Safeguarding churches from Satan’s army

Published 9:52 am Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The title of this column makes me cringe.

Never in a million years would I have thought that I needed to address such a topic. However, what is occurring all too often across our great nation forces each and every one of us to remain on guard at all times, keeping a close eye on our immediate surroundings in an effort to ensure not only our safety, but also of those we love.

Mass shootings are becoming more frequent. Way too many innocent lives have been lost. And in many of these cases where the agitator is not from foreign soil, we struggle to understand how a blue-blooded American has so much hatred in their heart where they feel compelled to use deadly force against his or her fellow citizens.

There are claims that those domestic shooters suffer from mental health issues. On a related topic, I read on my Facebook newsfeed last week where a poster said everyone is “only 24 hours away from snapping (suffering a mental breakdown). You can be fine one day and shooting up the world the next day.”

Personally, I find that statement hard to believe. For starters, even if I “snap”, I don’t harbor hatred in my heart for anyone. Therefore, if I go off the deep end mentally you will not see my name in a newspaper headline or on the TV news as a mass shooter.

Secondly, it’s tough to grasp the notion that someone snaps one day and murders innocent people the next, even if their heart is full of hate. I can’t put into words how a mentally unstable person may react because I’ve never walked in their shoes, but it would seem logical that carrying out such a brutal attack would take weeks, perhaps months, of careful planning. It would also seem logical that over that particular course of time that some sort of red flag would be raised by the shooter, enough to the point where a close relative or friend would be tipped off to the worst case scenario and make that known to law enforcement officials in advance.

But back to the premise of this column….mass shootings taking place during a religious service.

My heart broke for those innocent souls gathered back in June of 2015 at the Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston, SC. There, a proclaimed white supremacist by the name of Dylann Roof murdered nine black parishioners in cold blood. He went on record saying that his actions were intended to ignite a race war.

Now the 26 deaths of Sunday, Nov. 5 at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas haunts my mind and soul. Among the victims were eight innocent children, sitting with their parents during what was, up until the gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, entered the sanctuary, a typical service at a small town church.

Were Kelley’s hateful intentions aimed only at the parishioners of that church, or was he attempting to elicit fear in the hearts and minds of church-going people all across our land? In either case, the work of Satan is easy to see.

This reminds me of a Bible story I was taught as a child, one where following the crucifixion of Jesus, his loyal disciples went behind closed doors in the belief they were the next targets. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared before those disciples and said, “Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19). A short time later, those brave disciples ended their isolation and were filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly going out in public and spreading the word of Jesus Christ.

Even with these cases of cold blooded murder carried out within a place of worship, I still struggle with the thought of armed guards positioned inside or on the grounds of those faith-based facilities in an effort to protect parishioners.

I personally thank Northampton County Sheriff Jack Smith for orchestrating meetings with local church officials to offer advice on how they can strengthen security.

My best advice for local churches and their officers is to always be on guard against members of Satan’s army, but never be intimidated to carry forth the word of our creator.


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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