Late, great OC Weekly music editor Buddy Seigal is shown here (under the stage name Buddy Blue) performing his tune "Gun Sale at the Church" with the San Diego-based, '80s cowpunk band The Beat Farmers (still going strong as The Farmers despite the loss of Buddy and founder Country Dick Montana). Seigal/Blue's song was a playful jab at the then-budding Moral Majority, but it does not sound so far-fetched now.
Steve Smick kneeled before a cross at Crystal Cathedral before killing himself with a gun in February. The Rev. Fred Winters was gunned down at First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., one Sunday in March. Dr. George Tiller was blown away in the foyer of his Wichita church by an anti-abortion nut earlier this month.
With it seeming comparatively safer to walk through SouthCentral at midnight, churches may want to start giving away guns like communion wafers so churchgoers can defend themselves. Or at least that's what a security expert seemed to suggest to 15 Southern California church leaders who gathered in Garden Grove last week for an "Interfaith Intruder Response" course.
This is fromKate Linthicum
's report on the
The class, which met in a nondescript hotel conference room, was led by Vaughn Baker, who owns a security company called Strategos International. Baker is one of several church security consultants who travel the country like itinerant preachers, teaching seminars and writing up security plans for church leaders.
After an opening prayer, Baker offered some grim statistics. In the last decade, he said, 50 people were killed and 30 wounded in 35 church shootings. In 2007, there were six church shootings. In 2008, there were 18.
In most cases, the shooter was someone with a connection to the church.
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"You guys know the world's not getting better," said Baker, who, along with many church security consultants, is a churchgoer and has a background in law enforcement. "We've got to protect ourselves. . . . The trick of it and the art of it is protecting the congregation and ministry without compromising their sense of worship and refuge and sanctuary."
Since traditional security measures like metal detectors or pat-downs might spook congregants into feeling less safe, Baker proposed subtler methods, including peppering pews with undercover security agents packing heat. As Linthicum tells it, seminar attendees nodded along to the instant eye-for-an-eye, let-God-sort-it-out approach to keeping peace in the Prince of Peace's house.
One attendee, Al Brown, of Abundant Living Family Church in Rancho Cucamonga, said the pastor at his church at first was reluctant to let parishioners carry firearms into services. But with some persuasion from Brown, the former police chief at UC Irvine, the pastor came around. "He saw what was happening around the country," Brown said.
Get this: Brown says he attends church security seminars in part out of fear of violence from opponents of Prop. 8, which his church supported. Good thing he's the former police chief at UCI. I'd fear he'd start locking up women to stop campus rapes. After all, most responsible for shoot-'em-ups at churches are cut from the same cloth as gay-marriage haters, including the gunman police say killed two people during a children's performance at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville because the church advocates for gay rights.