In a message to “Members of the Faith-Based Community” from Brian Harrell, Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security at the Department of Homeland Security, he warns that that certain ” stressors caused by the pandemic may contribute to an individual’s decision to commit an attack or influence their target of choice” and provides remedies on how to be prepared for this potential eventuality.
We can imagine what some of these stressors can be- poverty, job loss, interpersonal conflict, mental health disorders from being quarantined for months on end- but one underreported stressor which certainly will be up there is their rage and bitterness against some Churches for their decision to stay open and not completely shut everything during these dark times.
These in-person services or drive-in services are seen by pagans (and some professing Christians) as hostile acts of extreme provocation against the wider society- as manifested acts of violence against them. In fact, there’s more than a few rando commenters on social media calling for pastors who lead these churches to be arrested and charged with attempted murder and mass murder, or even executed for treasonous acts against the country.
The New York Times is emblematic of this blameshifting with their recent editorial “The Road to Coronavirus Hell Was Paved by Evangelicals.” (titled later changed) As things progress, that view will become more commonplace and gravitated to by unhinged radicals.
Though the memo acknowledges the stressors, it also provides some guidelines for returning churches to deal with possible hostilities. We read:
When you begin efforts to reconstitute services and welcome congregants back into your houses of worship, please also review your security plans and ensure procedures are in place to protect your facilities and visitors. Although there are no imminent or credible threats at this time, there has been an increase in online hate speech intended to encourage violence or use the ongoing situation as an excuse to spread hatred.
We encourage all churches to have security plans in place if and when this sort of monstrous thing might occur.
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