Churches must take measures against possible terror attacks, warns security expert

Terrorist attacks on churches are on the increase. Thousands of churches throughout Britain are being urged to take security measures against the possibility of a terror attack or other anti-Christian hate crime.

New guidelines warn of growing evidence of hate crimes against Christians and say clergy and church staff must take steps to protect themselves and their congregations against terrorists armed with guns or knives.

The guidelines warn of an “escalating problem” in the wake of July’s attack on the Catholic church in Saint–Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen in France and the murder of its priest Father Jacques Hamel.

Although there is no evidence that a terror attack on a church is imminent, the guidelines note that attacks in churches during services are, in fact, surprisingly common.

There have been cases of congregation members attacked with axes and even firearms.

The guidelines have been produced by Nick Tolson, a leading expert in church security and director of National Churchwatch

Tolson, who is the Christian representative on a Home Office counter-extremism panel for places of worship, told Christian Today: “There is definitely a rise in the risk to churches.

“The murder of Father Jacques Hamel was the first time a church has been directly targeted by terrorists in northern Europe.

“We know that when there has been one attack, there are copycat attacks. So the risk has risen.

“We just need to talk about it and get people thinking about it.”

He has posted the new guidelines on the National Churchwatch Facebook page.

There are two sets. One is how to deal with anti-Christian hate crime and the other suggests counter-terrorism measures that churches can take.

In the last 10 years in the UK, eight members of the clergy have been murdered, all with knives.

In 2009 a man brandishing a firearm on the steps of Guildford Cathedral before an Advent carol service was shot and killed by police.

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