Louisiana, Texas theologians discuss church security after Sunday's mass shooting

Local church security

(WVUE) - The pain over what happened inside a Texas church Sunday crosses religious denominational lines.

"Tremendous sadness and a great sorrow," said Dr. Paige Patterson, President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

"It's just so sad. It's a day of mourning for our country," said New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

The carnage inside the church reignited discussions about whether churches should have armed security inside.

Dr. Patterson talked to FOX 8 News inside the sprawling chapel at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is on the campus to give talks.

"It is going to be very difficult for Pastor [Frank] Pomeroy but I know enough about him to know that he is the sort that will rise to the occasion and even though he has the deep sorrow in his own heart he's going to lead his conversation back," said Patterson.

The pastor and his wife lost their young daughter to the shooter's gunfire.

Dr. Patterson is not put off by the idea of guns being in the sanctuary during worship and other activities.

"By all means, I urge every church to see that they have armed security but trained armed security," said Dr. Patterson.

"This was a discussion after Mother Emmanuel across the country," said Rev. Willie Gable, Pastor of Progressive Baptist Church in New Orleans and a member of the board of Directors for the National Baptist Convention, USA, Incorporated.

Gable does not want guns on the inside of churches.

"We can't weaponize ourselves in the place of worship, but we certainly can be aware of the fact that there are possibilities and there are always possibilities. It certainly was tragic, in terms of what happened in Texas, but I'm just one that firmly believes that we have to you know display our faith, our trust in God. I don't carry a gun and we're in a neighborhood where there's been violence," said Rev. Gable.

Archbishop Aymond responded to whether it is far-fetched to think that churches should have armed security personnel inside their sanctuaries.

"I hope we don't get to that point, but one must wonder and also it brings up I think a larger question, how do so many people have guns and use them irresponsibly and how do people who have mental illnesses get guns and use them to kill people," said the archbishop.

"One has to consider before making that decision do we militarize the house of worship? That is a daunting thing I believe," said Rev. Gable.

Aymond said some Catholic churches employ security outside.

"Some of our churches do sometimes for traffic, but also to make sure that things are peaceful and safe, that would be the exception. I think it's a good question, it's a sad question. I never thought that in my lifetime we would have to ask the question should we have security guards for people coming into church because there might be violence and that's where we need to go to God. We need to have a deeper respect for human life and we need for families to come together and teach peace, and teach respect for one another."

Pastor Gable said in the past he had conversations with a federal law enforcement agent attending his church who wanted to bring his weapon into the church services.

"We used to have an FBI agent years ago who was a member of the church and I had to say to that agent you must keep that gun in your car and they said to me as an FBI agent I'm required my arm on me, well I said if you worship here it must stay in the car and they acquiesced. I ended up marrying them and they moved away," said Pastor Gable.

But Dr. Patterson said the bloodshed in churches necessitates change.

"The most important single place for anybody carry is right in the back against the wall because a shooter coming in, a proposed shooter coming in never notices what's back against the wall, even if he did notice one he would turn his back on the other," Dr. Patterson said.

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