Church President Russel M. Nelson, Personal Opinion And Inspiration (UPDATE: PBS Report On Congregation Security)

I had a recent experience on Sunday where Church of Jesus Christ President/Prophet Nelson attended our service. The talks were really good and President Nelson offered a few concluding words. His words were an example that the Church President is a man and is fallible.

President Nelson noted he had recently visited church members in Sri Lanka and the sadness he felt for the despicable attack on Christians. He then stated how grateful he is that we are ‘fortunate to live in a country where we can worship in peace and safety’.

I assume he was not aware of the attack (Saturday – the day before) on the California synagogue that left one dead and maybe forgot about the Tree of Life synagogue attack six months ago along with the other shootings that have occurred at US Christian/other churches over the years. Then there’s ISIS’ explicit threat on Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints facilities. At least, I sure hope he was made aware of these items and not oblivious to them.

Basically, he was wrong. I agree that we are blessed to live where we do and all of us take it for granted but we are absolutely not safe in a church anymore. To think so doesn’t acknowledge the reality on the ground. He was ‘ad-libbing’ and some of his words were inspired but others were simply misinformed. It’s a good example that church leaders (to the highest level) may be good folks but they’re certainly not omniscient and it’s unfair to them (and lazy) to suggest all blindly agree with everything they say (hint: Nephi didn’t buy off on Lehi’s teaching/directions, he questioned it and spent some time praying to get confirmation, meanwhile, it appears Laman/Lemuel just went along for the ride without seeking personal confirmation and it didn’t end well).

It is also easy for President Nelson to say we’re safe when he happens to have an armed security detail that protects him in church. I’ll admit that doesn’t sit well with me at all. The rest of us are prohibited from effective means of self-defense, so we’re all sitting ducks when we go to church. It’s also particularly ironic that the prior day’s synagogue shooting was interdicted by a malfunction and an armed congregant and another brave soul who rushed the shooter (I expect several people owe their lives to their actions).

Again, I call on President Nelson and the church to terminate the dangerous and ridiculous gun ban*.

*Click on the last link for active shooter resources – it could save your life.

UPDATE: First, PBS updated a good background report (How safe is your place of worship?). The data on Jewish congregations addressing security is reflected locally: Once Soft Target For Terror In Utah Hardens Itself

Better yet, PBS just ran a report today that starts with a list of attacks on churches in the US: Amid rising attacks on places of worship, how religious leaders are responding (video and transcript at the link). Church leaders discuss the issue with Bishop Sutton noting a church shooting (of a priest and secretary) in his diocese. The discussion turns to security. Pastor Elmore discusses experienced, armed congregants as part of their security plan which begins in the parking lot. As Rabbi Marcus states:

In the end, we made that choice to move to armed guards, for a number of different reasons. One, as was demonstrated at Chabad, first of all, it decreases the appearance of being a soft target. And people who come in to do these attacks often flee immediately when they are confronted with other people who are armed and trained.

So we didn’t do this because we glorify violence or we celebrate guns. We’re very much not in favor of a violent culture. We made the transition to switch to armed guards because we felt that it was the best way to keep everyone in our community safe.

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Annual Warning: LDS Church Publicly Announces Soft Target Status, Demonstrates Some Lives More Valuable Than Others

Each January, I check to see if the LDS Church has renewed it’s firearm ban and publicly announced itself to be a soft target for terror and/or other violent crimes (and, yes, islamic terrorists have specifically named the LDS Church as a target). The trend continues this year. However, there is something else I picked up on during the last year and I was reminded of when reading their January 9, 2019 legal notice:

NOTICE OF FIREARMS PROHIBITION Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to Section 76-10-530 of the Utah Code Annotated, firearms are prohibited in all houses of worship, including temples, meetinghouses, chapels, stake centers, tabernacles, the Assembly Hall, the Tabernacle and the Conference Center, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”), except for firearms in the possession and control of individuals who (a) are specified in Section 76-10-523(1)(a)-(e) of the Utah Code Annotated or (b) are otherwise engaged in the protection of Church members, visitors, personnel or facilities and hold a written authorization issued by the Managing Director of the Church’s Security Department. This notice is effective upon publication and shall remain in effect until revoked or the first anniversary of the publication of this notice, whichever first occurs. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 50 East North Temple Street Salt Lake City, Utah 84150 1238909 UPAXLP [Emphasis added]

First, “members” with “written authorization” does not apply to general membership. Trust me, if you’re not in upper church leadership that bold section doesn’t apply to you. You’re expendable.

Earlier this year, I attended a couple of meetings where the church’s president was in attendance. Both were in a church facility where the gun ban applied. In both instances he had an armed security detail. They either were advertising to potential trouble makers that they were armed or didn’t do a very good job concealing their weapons. It’s another instance of “good for me but not for thee”.

Members should be aware of three things:

1. Upper leadership is afforded protection that you and innocent members (particularly children) are not. Apparently, their lives aren’t as valuable as others (‘some lives are more equal than others’?…). As far as I’m concerned a child’s, middle-aged mother’s, or sleepy 75-year-old member’s life is just as important as the Prophet’s or other General Authority’s life. If they refuse to let members protect themselves, they should at least either provide security or active shooter (and first aid) training.

2. Just because an armed security detail is in a meeting you attend, do not count on them protecting you or your family. Their priority is the individual(s) they’re assigned to. If crap hits the fan, they’ll get them out of the danger which may mean neutralizing the threat (if you’re lucky) but more likely, just getting out to safety. It’s possible they’ll come back to engage the threat but there will be a long delay (they have to secure their client) and most of the damage will be done. Basically, you’re on your own.

3. Given the two items above, you need to plan for your own security, reaction and egress. You should hold a family home evening on it. I would also suggest looking into some sort of trauma first aid training to help in the aftermath if you survive. Here are a few resources to start off:

Everything You Think You Know About an Active Shooter Situation Is Wrong
Recognizing 8 Signs of Terrorism
How Situational Awareness Can Save Your Life In A Terror Attack

Notes on the videos:  In Auburn’s you’ll notice everyone concentrate in one corner of the room. That isn’t best practice IMO (see the Ohio video where they mention spacing out). Also in Ohio University’s video, note the “…bring along a weapon in case you encounter the shooter along the way” comment. The best weapon (IMO) has been denied to you so grab what you can quickly (don’t waste time evaluating/looking for something, however). Remember, ALICE  means Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

There are plenty of other resources so check them out but be sure to apply them to your situation as each method will have deficiencies for different scenarios (e.g. differing room type, size, configuration, obstacles, number of shooters, etc.). Try to play out realistic scenarios in your mind (don’t get into fantasy where you come out the hero). Plan on casualties and steel yourself mentally for the screaming, gore and likely death you will encounter.

Finally, The LDS Church remains one of only two churches in Utah with this dangerous policy. I hope the LDS Church will reconsider their policy just as another congregation did when faced with a threat. It should also be noted that prior to the change a few years ago, concealed carry had been allowed for decades in LDS facilities without incident.

Once Soft Target For Terror In Utah Hardens Itself

At the beginning of the year, I put up my (now) annual post warning of the dangers of feel-good gun bans by churches, particularly related to terrorism or mass shooting/casualty situations. As I noted then, the LDS Church was only one of two religious organizations in Utah that advertise they ban lawful citizens from carrying guns. At the time, the only other church to do so was Congregation Kol Ami.

They are now off BCI’s list of those banning a lawful and effective defensive means. It may have something to do with this (Congregation Kol Ami in SLC heightens security after three anti-Semitic incidents):

Congregation Kol Ami says they are increasing security measures in response to several incidents of anti-Semitism that occurred within a short period of time.

I won’t pretend to know much about them, but there appear to be plenty of their faith who advocate for individual defensive means in the face of bigoted threats.

Must Watch: I’m The Majority

Just watch, there’s not much I can add.

“We’re the first ones taxed, and the last ones considered, and the first ones punished when things like this happen. Because our rights are the ones being taken away.”

Enough with leftists blaming good citizens and treading on rights of the law-abiding. I too am fed up with all the politicians coddling to the “loonies from the left”. We must start to fight and “raise hell” with the schools, city councils, legislatures, and organizations who bow down to the leftist minority who are either ignorant to realities and God-given rights or malevolently seek to deny them for their own power. I’m done with unprincipled politicians and organizations (including churches) who say we always have to compromise our natural and constitutional rights to speech and defense (among others) to some squeamish leftist social justice warrior when we’ve done nothing wrong and obey the law. They can take their despotic social justice and shove it.

LDS President Nelson And Firearm Laws

Quick blurb: Fox13 caught some statement LDS President Nelson made about firearm laws and featured it for a bit on their website. The main part they focused on is:

“…Well, God allows us to have our agency, and men have passed laws that allow guns to go to people who shouldn’t have them.”

A spokesman for the LDS Church said the quote speaks for itself.

I’ll be blunt. LDS Public Affairs is useless on this since the quote doesn’t really speak for itself. Without a specific example of a law, I have no idea whatsoever what he’s talking about. Besides the current State & Federal laws, Baker Act (and variants), NICS requirements, and ATF Form 4473, there are plenty of laws disqualifying people under various conditions (yes, including mental disorders) from possessing a firearm. So, quite contrary, men have passed laws to block guns going to people who shouldn’t have them (and respect constitutional due process requirements in stripping an individual of the right). Of course, criminals don’t really care about laws so they’ll always try their best to violate them but the law-abiding care and follow them.

Meanwhile, in terms of the Parkland shooting, it’s seems clearer that rather than a lack of laws, we’re seeing a lack of enforcement and due diligence based on the plethora of legal/school/social services interactions with the shooter and the subsequent (in)action by Broward County Sheriff Deputies. Should we look at tweaking laws and mental adjudication/commitment (which also respect constitutional rights) to avoid the failures we’re seeing? Sure. Same with hardening soft targets. But it seems like the first priority will be to address the causes of the failures and determine if priorities and processes rather than laws are what really need to be addressed.

Anyway, back to the statement. I’m basically left shrugging and finding he was expressing a personal opinion and may not have all the facts on hand (he also called the shooter a “sniper” which was not the case). That may well be why Public Affairs put out the statement they did – it was his opinion, what else can they say.

If, on the other hand, he was targeting the 2nd Amendment as a whole and plans on initiating a departure from church being stalwart defender of the US Constitution (including in doctrine), it would be a massive upheaval. Even with the recent weakness on individual rights, I don’t see that at all here, especially with Public Affairs’ quick punt.

Further reading:
Founders: Why the Bill of Rights (including the 2nd Amendment) is pointless.
Yep, the right to bear arms was always clearly intended as a personal right.

LDS Church Renews Tempting Soft Target Status For 2018

Last month I posted my annual warning/reminder about staying vigilant when attending services at an LDS church, particularly given the specific Daesh (ISIS) threat against the church. This month, I checked if anything had changed in terms of the church allowing members and visitors to have defensive means. Nope. The LDS church renewed its status as one of two churches in Utah to ban law-abiding citizens from possessing a firearm.

The ban is in effect for another year. Thus, if you attend church (or any ‘gun-ban’ public venue) this year, be sure to click the linked post and review the terrorism defense tips/links at the end of the post. Stay safe and good luck.

Daesh (ISIS) Now Specifically Threatens LDS Church (Annual Threat Update)

Apparently, this is turning into an annual Christmas tradition here. Two years ago, I posted about Daesh (ISIS) stating they would target churches in the US and last year I noted that they had reaffirmed that threat. Both times, I have highlighted LDS churches have been made into tempting soft targets. Just a week ago, Daesh demonstrated their appetite to kill at religious sites and the bloody carnage that results. That brings us to our third anniversary. This year, Daesh decided to not only reissue their threat but treat us with imagery specific to the LDS church (Image with LDS temple, terrorist, circulating online).

(KUTV) A disturbing, concerning image is circulating online claiming that a group is targeting the LDS temple in San Deigo, California. The picture which was allegedly released by a pro-ISIS media group shows a burning temple with an alleged member of ISIS looking on and the bloody words “Coming Soon.”

The FBI says they are “not aware of any specific and credible threat to [the LDS] community”. However, lone wolf and terrorist’s whole purpose is to fly under the radar.  The FBI isn’t able to catch everything; evidenced by recent terror attacks here and the still unresolved Vegas shooting (not to mention Fox 13’s report about Daesh recruiting in Utah). It is still up to individuals and organizations to maintain vigilance and situational awareness and be, preferably, granted a means of defense.

Unfortunately, we’re three years into this and folks are still stripped of the some excellent individual means of defense and a simple means to harden an exploitable soft target (i.e. the church’s firearms ban).

The article concludes with a U of U counter-terrorism expert:

“I think it warrants attention,” Guiora said. “We have a tendency to dismiss things that seem this can’t happen. but I think what we’ve learned in the past period – literally anything can happen. Terrorists say what they mean and they mean what they say.”

At the same time, Guiora said the last thing we want to do is stay home.

“You don’t want people to stay home, because if you stay home then terrorism wins,” he said.

I have to admit that it’s a bit more tempting to stay home when you’re denied a defensive ability and hindered in fulfilling a God-given duty to protect the innocent. It’s not all that fun being told to be a sitting duck. Regardless, to reiterate last year’s conclusion: As you go to church, pray, be vigilant, look for improvised means of defense and be ready to act. Please also review the following (also linked on my prior two posts on this subject):
Recognizing 8 Signs of Terrorism
How Situational Awareness Can Save Your Life In A Terror Attack

Stay vigilant and have a Merry Christmas!