Every Sunday morning I walk into church thinking about killing, about murder, and about death. I think about how I can kill as many people as possible before I turn the gun upon myself and end it all.
No, I'm not a lunatic. I'm a member of my church Emergency Services Team, and I'm using a technique called visualization. It's my job to protect the flock from anyone who walks in bent on doing them harm, so I think about how the bad guys might do it and then respond to it inside my head. This helps me prepare for an actual altercation. Seems like there's been a lot of crazy people out there lately who like to kill as many people as possible before turning the gun on themselves. My job is to stop them before they hurt anyone innocent. Seems like an odd way to serve God, but that's what I do. It helps defines me.
Last week I sat in on a meeting at my church and it went something like this:
"Last Sunday a woman came up to me and asked for an escort to her vehicle after the service. Her boyfriend had just threatened to cut off her head and to murder their daughter if she didn't start dating him again. Two armed members of the team escorted her to her car safely as we asked her for more details."
This may seem a little bizarre, but it's becoming more and more common these days, especially in big, urban super churches. Oddly enough, my church is thirty miles from the nearest big city and is surrounded by corn, swamp and alfalfa. We have about 2,000 people who attend and they come from all walks of life.
In the above scenario, we gathered as much information as possible and made plans for how we'd respond if this crazy boyfriend ever came in and tried to hurt people. We assigned someone to call the Sheriff's Department and get a copy of the Personal Protection Order, we disseminated pictures of the man to the team, we appointed one member to maintain contact with her throughout the week to monitor the situation, and we made a schedule of who would attend each of our three services and where we'd be inside the church. When it came time for questions, I asked: "What is the step-by-step procedure we should follow if the man walks into church?" Together, we hashed it out so that everyone knew what to do and we were all on the same page. We are fortunate to have the County Sheriff on our team.
During the week I kept thinking about the meeting, and I practiced my visualization technique, recalling the man's face so I would recognize him and know how to respond. But, I have to tell you that I also kept wondering, What has brought us to this point in our human condition that we have to protect ourselves from evil even inside the house of God. Almost universally, throughout history, the church has been thought of as a place of sanctuary and refuge, a place where people who are hurting can come and be healed, where the poor can be fed, and where the lonely can find friendship and comfort. And the answer kept blaring back at me over and over again.
In my book "RKBA: Defending the Right to Keep and Bear Arms" I make the following statement:
And that's why I carry a gun everywhere I go, even in church. Here in Michigan and in some other states as well there is a law which establishes churches as pistol-free zones. But isn't it funny how bad guys just never seem to get the memo? And that's why we have an Emergency Services Team.
This morning I went to church to worship. First I signed in at the main desk and checked in with a few other Emergency Team members. During the service, I scanned the crowd for human anomalies. During prayer I kept one eye open. I don't like doing that. I remember a time when I was free to close my eyes, to sing, to praise God without focusing on anything else. I remember liking it.
But ... the world is different now. I serve on the team because of my qualifications and because that's where the need arose. Nonetheless, just between you and me, I'd rather be teaching Sunday School.