Pastors and high-profile ministry leaders are being urged to tighten security in places of worship in light of the shooting death of prominent late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller on Sunday.
According to police reports, Scott Roeder, 51, allegedly walked into Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kan., and opened fire on Tiller while he was serving as an usher, the Associated Press reported.
Jeffrey Hawkins, executive director of the Christian Security Network, an organization that provides security, emergency preparedness and other services to Christians, said all churches share exposure to crime and violence and need to be protected. But he pointed out that "if a church has a leader or member that has a high profile or is controversial—or if the church has taken a stance on a controversial issue such as abortion ... they are at a higher level of risk and need to take greater precautions."
According to a statement released by the Department of Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder directed federal marshals to "offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation" as a result of the shooting, CNN reported. His action came in response to concerns by abortion providers about their safety. But some Christian leaders say churches around the country are targets of violence and need equal protection under the law.
"We've had more shootings in churches than we've had at abortion clinics. And we've had more protests now, almost as many protests, at churches in the wake of Proposition 8 in California," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, regarding Holder's mandate. "I wonder if the attorney general is willing to do this across the board, to give the same protection to churches that have been vandalized."
"Church security is about protecting all people that come into the church, no matter what their opinions may be," Hawkins said. "The church in Wichita had greater risk simply because this doctor attended. There was an attempt on his life in the past, and there was no reason to believe there would not be another."
He noted that Tiller's death makes the 15th incidence of violence against Christian churches and the sixth death since January.
Roeder is being held without bond on suspicion of first-degree murder, according to authorities.
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