ASIS International is bringing together security professionals from various religious communities for the Faith-Based Organization Security Committee (FBOSC), an interfaith working group started earlier this year as part of the organization’s Museum, Library and Cultural Properties Council. The FBOSC will address the security risks and needs of houses of worship and other faith-based organizations to develop best security practices.
“The Faith-Based Organization Security Committee is a result of incidents of violence and other crimes against houses of worship and faith-based organizations,” says Jeffrey Hawkins, executive director of the Christian Security Network, and head of the FBOSC. “We want to have all faiths represented so we can effectively develop comprehensive guidelines, and tackle issues that all religions are facing now and in the future.”
Hawkins is also vice chairperson of ASIS International’s Museum, Library and Cultural Properties Council. He will head the FBOSC through 2009 and become chairperson of the larger council next year.
ASIS International is the umbrella organization for more than 30 councils made up of volunteer security, law enforcement and military personnel from banking, education, pharmaceutical, retail, transportation, utilities and other fields. The FBOSC is ASIS International’s first committee dedicated to security issues among faith-based organizations. The group is comprised of ASIS International members from the Christian, Jewish, Mormon and Muslim faiths.
“Having representatives from diverse faiths will help garner further communication and build trust,” says Nawar Shora, legal director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and a FBOSC member. “Perhaps one of our greatest challenges as a society has been a lack of trust and lack of understanding. The Faith-Based Organization Security Committee will help broaden understanding, thus ultimately improving society’s trust. Once faith-based communities secure this trust, they can move forward in security, safety and dialogue.”
The committee will identify the major risks that houses of worship and faith-based organizations face, including violent crimes, arson and internal theft, and promote standards and guidelines to combat them. One of the first projects of the committee is to develop a resource guide for houses of worship and other faith-based organizations. The guide will provide insight and instruction for developing safety teams, assessing risks, identifying potential dangers and protecting high-profile religious leaders.
Hawkins will outline several strategies in “Increasing Risks for Faith-Based Organizations,” a presentation at ASIS International’s Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Anaheim, Calif., Sept. 21-24.
The Christian Security Network (www.christiansecuritynetwork.com) is a national organization dedicated to the advancement of security, safety and emergency planning for Christian churches, schools, ministries and missionaries. The organization provides training, information, and resources to help faith-based organizations minimize risks and increase safety. In addition to implementing plans against violent acts, arson and similar tragedies, Christian Security Network also provides resources that address lawsuits and liability, medical emergencies and destructive weather. The organization provides webinars, seminars, training articles, access to intelligence information, grant information to fund security measures, on-site risk assessments and educational materials.