Devin Kelley walked into the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas Sunday and unleashed a fury of gunfire that left 26 people dead and many others injured.
Kelley, like many mass shooters before him, decided to target a place where people were seeking solace and refuge from the outside world. A place where people go to escape the horrors of life, not be swallowed by them. These places — churches, movie theaters, concert halls and schools — are sanctuaries and outlets where people go for relief in times of hardship. But what about when these places are under attack?
Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmet Price joined Boston Public Radio for another edition of All Revved Up to discuss the tragedy in Texas and the spiritual violation these attacks on our communal sanctuaries perpetrate.
Price, as a result of the growing commonality of mass shootings, has taken measures to create emergency action plans at his parish. For Monroe, though, there is no amount of preparedness that can account for every eventuality and ensure safety. She believes that the attacks on sacred grounds have changed the culture of worship.
“You are most vulnerable when you are going into church. It is the whole idea of leaving the problems of the world outside, and in this one place you are able to be in community with one another,” said Monroe. “We are at a new norm … it is a different culture now.”
The assumption is that the church has always been a safe place, Price added. While this assumption has been shaken, he does not believe that it is gone.
“People are resilient. I guarantee this coming Sunday there will probably be more people in church than there were last Sunday as a result of what happened,” said Price.
Click above to listen to the full interview with Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price.