As Islamic terror threats against churches escalate, so should churches' plans for safety and security – even in the United States.
Dabiq – the online magazine ISIS uses for propaganda and recruitment – is telling radical Muslims to target Western churches. Counter-terrorism experts think the blow is most likely to land in Great Britain, but Chuck Chadwick of the Texas-based National Organization of Church Security & Safety Management says churches in America shouldn't ignore the threat.
"What we over here can expect is the lone wolf attack," he offers, "[and] it looks like bombing is becoming popular again."
While Chadwick says an attack on a U.S. church is probably not imminent, it's still important to have the conversation. "Having a person who is armed and can respond in deadly force may be an option [for churches]," he says. "If it does happen, we're prepared; if it doesn't happen, all glory to God."
Many churches are working with local police to have a uniformed officer on site. Some have a trained and armed security team not in uniform at the ready.
In addition to physical security, Chadwick suggests churches need to think about who will be legally liable if the need to shoot arises – and about access points to their church. Can someone sneak in a back door? Can people get out in a hurry? And he says churches of all sizes need to be wary.
"Who's their likely target here? Maybe a high-profile pastor? That would send a message," he explains. "But how about ... a coordinated attack of five smaller churches all across the United States? The terrorists' message [of course] would be every small church."
Chadwick's organization has assisted thousands of churches, both large and small, with security and safety issues; and through its Gatekeeper Program has put hundreds of armed gatekeepers in churches across Texas.
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