Churches consider armed security in wake of TX shooting

Posted: Updated:
HIGHTSTOWN -

Churches and other places of worship across the country are considering whether to have armed guards at their services after a gunman opened fire on a church in Texas, killing over two dozen people.

Sunday’s shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs is not the first shooting at a house of worship. A gunman murdered six people praying at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 2012. In 2015, nine parishioners were shot and killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. And in September, a shooter killed one woman and wounded seven other people at a church in Nashville, Tennessee.

RELATED: Texas church gunman sent hostile text messages before attack

Reverend Dan Schafer, who heads the Calvary Assembly of God in Hightstown, thinks more churches should increase their security.

“I know of lot of churches that have armed people,” he says.

Schafer also teaches courses on what other churches and pastors can do to protect others. He says armed security guards are the ultimate deterrent.

“We will protect our people and we will take care of our people at any means it takes,” Schafer says.

WATCH: Extended interview with Reverend Dan Schafer

But not everyone believes security should be so intense.

“Would you want to go to a church where there are armed guards there?” asks Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness.

The Archdiocese of Newark, which oversees 219 parishes, lets pastors decide on the level of security at churches. They’re encouraged to develop strong relationships with their local police departments and work with parish councils on security issues.  Goodness say armed guards don't reflect the Christian outlook.

“Churches and schools of the Archdiocese of Newark, they are places of welcoming. That's what church is all about,” Goodness says.

New Jersey has not been spared by violence in churches. Two people were shot and killed in a church in Clifton in 2008. The suspect in that case attacked his estranged wife and two other people.

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