Churchgoers divided about armed congregants, LifeWay study shows

Churchgoers divided about armed congregants, LifeWay study shows

In the aftermath of several high-profile church shootings, most Protestant pastors say their churches have taken precautions to protect those in attendance.

Since 2000, 19 fatal shootings have taken place at Christian churches, while gunmen also have taken lives at other religious sites like Jewish synagogues, a Sikh temple and an Amish school.

Around 4 in 5 Protestant pastors (80%) say their church has some type of security measure in place when they gather for worship, according to a survey from LifeWay Research.

“Churches are some of the most common gatherings in any community, and that makes them targets,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

The most common form of preparation is making an intentional plan. Almost 2 in 3 pastors (62%) say their church has an intentional plan for an active shooter situation.

The question of guns in church is very much a live debate among pastors, as close to half of pastors (45%) say part of their security measures include having armed church members.

Combining this with the percentages who say they have uniformed police officers or armed security personnel on site, 51% intentionally have firearms at their worship services.

Other churches place their emphasis on keeping all guns away from the worship service.

More than a quarter (27%) have a no-firearms policy for the building where they meet and 3% have metal detectors at entrances to screen for weapons. (BP)