This week, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released updated outlines for its members to follow in regards to safety in its buildings.
Church buildings have not been immune to the outbreak of mass shootings — think of the Christchurch mosque shooting in New Zealand, Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, and Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting — and it is wise for such a global church to share safety concerns and policies with its members who frequent its buildings on a weekly basis.
Leaders are expected to discuss these safety measures with congregants in the coming weeks, something we hope leaders do not neglect or treat lightly.
The measures the church asks its members to follow are what law enforcement has instructed schools, businesses and other institutions to use when faced with an active shooter: run, hide and fight. It also reminded members that even if they have a concealed carry permit, weapons should not be brought onto any church-owned grounds.
Other suggestions given include being aware of one’s surroundings, keeping calm, being friendly to all visitors and to not be alone in a building. Many of these are reasonable and applicable outside a worship service, regardless of one’s denomination or location. However, we disagree that one should extend friendship to every person one might cross; if an individual makes you uncomfortable and you feel you could be put in an unsafe situation, don’t sacrifice your personal safety for the sake of being polite — this especially applies to women. Many predators have historically relied on the expectation of women striving to be polite to strangers when making odd or isolating requests in order to capture a victim.
In today’s world, we might not like the fact we have to talk about standard safety procedures in the places we worship, the schools our kids attend or places we visit for entertainment, but it is nonetheless our reality and we should meet that with logical measures.