Today the Chicago Tribune carried a story about how religious leaders are responding to the danger of gun violence in their houses of worship. Susanne Baker of the Naperville Sun reports that “While guns are not allowed in schools, libraries, government buildings and hospitals, houses of worship were not included on the list of prohibited public spaces when Illinois’ concealed carry law was adopted in 2013.”
What to do? The First Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Naperville voted to declare their church a “gun free zone,” and the First Baptist Church in Elgin plans to send members to attend an active shooter program at a local hospital. Larger churches may opt to hire more security.
The article also noted that because “FBI statistics from 2015 show more than half of U.S. hate crimes motivated by religious bias were anti-Jewish offenses and 22 percent were anti-Islamic (Muslim)” these communities are understandably even more concerned about safety.
Nevertheless, Rabbi Marc Rudolph of Congregation Beth Shalom observed that “Obviously (the Texas shooting) is a tragic circumstance that really can happen anywhere” . . . “There’s very little an individual faith community can do, short of hiring armed guards, and even then there’s nothing to stop gunmen once they’re inside. What do we do, put metal detectors in every building? I don’t know what the answer is,” Rudolph said. “People need to feel safe in the churches, synagogues and mosques.”
The article also notes that there are spiritual issues involved in community response to the rise of mass shootings. UCC pastor, the Rev. Mark Winters, said “he has noticed a toxic level of fear overcoming people in the United States, which he says is causing a form of idolatry. Instead of trusting God, people are trusting guns.”
You can read the whole story here.