Monday, November 06, 2017

Your Church is not a Safe Space

I'm mad.  And sad.  In the wake of another mass shooting, I saw a wave of people expressing various things.  I know it is natural to assume that some spaces were safer.  We all do calculations because the randomness of actual life is too ridiculous to comprehend.  So we say, oh well, that happened in a city.  Oh well, that happened in the bad part of that city.  Or that happened in that state.  We do a lot of things to justify why what happened was the kind of thing that could not happen to us.  (Except it appears when the crimes were committed by Muslims.  Then we are sure legislative overhaul could fix this.)  
I am tired of responding to mass shootings.  I am sad that I have gone from wondering why flags are at half mast, to wondering which tragic event(s) this particular flag is honoring. But I was really annoyed at the people figuratively clutching pearls because it was in a church.  Places of worship have long been a target, and just of the top of my head there are bombings, burnings, shootings, and pedophiles.  One of the things I did as an adult adviser for youth conferences was arrange coverage so there was an adult awake at any time through the night, often with teen counterparts.  Folks joked that this was to make sure no one was having sex, but the reality was it was to make sure all manner of things that could happen in the middle of the night - be it illness, injury, or someone trying to break in in the middle of the night could be addressed swiftly. 
Plenty of places of worship intentionally lack on site parking.  Are surrounded by those cute planters that we know are really ramming barriers.  Just two years ago, there was a church shooting that made national news. Someone shot up a church play at a church in my denomination in 2008.  
I do get it. We want to maintain our innocence, even as several large events I've been to this year at places of worship required bag searches, and had visible extra security on hand. But we are at a point where it starts to seem a little less like innocence and a little more like willful ignorance.  If you thought your place of worship was a safe space until this weekend, then, okay, hi.  Now let's talk about what we're going to do to reduce shootings.  Whether it's better interventions for domestic violence, or reducing access to guns, we can't keep pretending a clear pattern of events is surprising.