II – Aware

DHS Outlines Steps Houses of Worship Can Take To Protect Themselves

To “mitigate the threat of targeted violence and prepare for potential incidents” against churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released Dec. 6, 2023 the PDF guide, Physical Security Performance Goals for Faith-Based Communities, which outlines measures “faith-based communities” can take to protect themselves from current vicious tensions.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Church Security Book Review: Defending the Flock ]

This guide comes as reported hate crimes have spiked since the onset of the war between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, A Prayer for Church Security Team Members ]

DHS emphasized in its 2024 Homeland Threat Assessment that the danger of violence from individuals radicalized in the United States will “remain high . . . marked by lone offenders or small group attacks that occur with little warning.”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Chart: The Spectrum of Potential Threat Personas in Self-Defense and Church Security ]

The 16-page document examines threats and vulnerabilities to provide targeted strategies organized by the functional categories of Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. It also includes a glossary of security-related words and phrases, and links to multiple resources under each category. Here are some of the guide’s recommendations:

Church Security Book Review: Defending the Flock

The US is in a heightened threat environment due to violent conflicts around the world, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Lone offenders, motivated by a range of savage ideologies, pose the most likely threat. DHS urges the American public to stay vigilant.

[ Read SemperVerus articles on the topic of Situational Awarenewss ]

Middle East expert Walid Phares says the charter of the terrorist organization Hamas calls for not only the killing of Jews and the elimination of Israel, but also for the killing of Christians worldwide. He says, “This is a jihadist movement, and it is manifesting itself in America and Canada, and in Western Europe. We have never been at this level of danger for our democratic world.”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Chart: The Spectrum of Potential Threat Personas in Self-Defense and Church Security ]

Acts of targeted violence against houses of worship are a real—and potentially growing—problem in the United States, says the DHS. The best way to mitigate a potential attack is to take a holistic approach to security.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, A Prayer for Church Security Team Members ]

A necessary and excellent resource for establishing a well-rounded, comprehensive church security program is the book, Defending the Flock: A Security Guide for Church Safety Directors by veteran police officer, retired Army captain, and founder of Sheepdog Church Security (SDCS) certification curriculum, Kris Moloney.

Situational Awareness: What Are You NOT Seeing?

Situational awareness is intentionally being aware of possible threats in your everyday surroundings. But there’s more to it than what is obviously observable.

You need to also ask yourself, “What am I NOT seeing?”

That question comprises two sub-questions:

  • “What IS there that I SHOULD be seeing but I’m NOT seeing it?” and
  • “What ISN’T there that SHOULD be there that I’m NOT seeing?”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Situational Awareness: 14 Ways to Walk Like You Drive ]

“Looking isn’t the same as seeing. You have to focus attention on something in order to become aware of it,” says Prof. Daniel Simons. “We know when we notice something unexpected, but we’re not aware of the times when we miss something unexpected….We need to filter out the distractions from our world and not let them interfere with our ability to do the task we’re trying to do.”

In self-defense situational awareness, it’s important to “filter out the distractions” and focus on both what IS in front of our eyes and what SHOULD be in front of our eyes but isn’t. Take the challenges in the videos below and see how attentive you are.

Situational Awareness: Spiritual Self-Defense

Satan, also known as the devil, is real. Not only does the Bible make that clear, simply reading and watching everyday news of horrific terrorism and crimes of every sort is convincing proof that the devil’s work of motivating people to commit pure evil is rampant in the world.

The second element of the five SemperVerus components is AWARE, which means giving keen scrutiny to being diligently vigilant to your surroundings. It says:

II. Aware: heightening attentiveness to be alert to—and anticipate—dangerous potentialities and temptations, as well as edifying opportunities.

Being AWARE plus the sum total of the other four SemperVerus principles cultivates the strategic and tactical element of SELF-DEFENSE, which is the intelligent ability to responsibly protect yourself from menacing spiritual and physical threats.

Notice the inclusion of the spiritual aspect that is often overlooked when considering self-defense. In fact, in many ways spiritual threats are more dangerous than physical perils. “Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world” (Ephesians 6:12).