A SECURITY firm in the United States is offering to train churches in “biblically based” deterrence to prevent another attack such as the one that killed 26 adults and children in Texas last month.
The Texan-based Hedge Protection Ministries trains volunteer church-security teams, some of whom may be armed, to, it says, “focus on deterrence while maintaining the delicate balance between security and evangelism”.
Founded by two retired police officers, Steve Hinton and Steve Hisser, the company offers different packages, depending on the size of the church, to help train and develop security teams to deter a would-be attacker. They have visited more than 100 churches to listen to their needs before devising their programme, and have also written a book on making churches secure.
Mr Hinton said that security teams do not have to be armed, though in some states churchgoers and ministers did carry guns into church. Under state law, Texans are allowed to carry a concealed weapon in houses of worship, as long as the house of worship does not specifically forbid it.
“The program does not require people to be armed. We do not teach them to be security guards, police officers, or personal protection officers. We do teach every church to utilize their own volunteer members and show them how to create multiple layers of highly visible deterrence designed to minimize the success of criminals who would target their church.”
Training a security team would also help to attract churchgoers, he said. “The congregation will feel secure and protected by the very presence of your volunteer members who make up your security group.”
The company, which was launched online just two weeks ago, offers a monthly subscription service which includes web-based training and advice: prices start from $49 a month for churches with congregations of fewer than 150 members, to $249 for churches with congregations of more than 4000.
It also publishes free tips on setting up a new security ministry, which suggests that churches have a security-team member on duty in the church car park, lock the church doors once the service has started, screen late arrivals and funnel them through one entrance, and place volunteers in the sanctuary of the church to protect the priest or pastor.
Texas changed its laws to exempt volunteer security teams in churches from government oversight, and allow churches to provide voluntary security on their own property.
The shooting at the Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, last month, was the deadliest church attack in US history. Seven of the victims were children, one an unborn child (News, 10 November).