Protecting Houes of Worship

On July 10, 2019, the evening prior to the Protecting Houses of Worship Forum, several faith and community leaders met to discuss awareness and collaboration on how to keep our community’s houses of worship safe. Attendees were, from left, Fred Whitaker from St. Francis of Assisi School; Mat Goldberg development director of Jewish Community of Louisville; Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner of the Temple Shalom; Muhammad babar, president of Muslim Americans for Compassion; Sunder Iyer from the Hindu Temple of Kentucky; Sarah Harris, executive director of the Center for Interfaith Relations; Rabbi Gaylia R. Rooks from The Temple Congregation Adath Israel Brith Sholom; Mildred I. Duprey de Robles, a conciliation specialist with the U.S. Department of State community relations services; Philip A. Noble, director of safety and security with Southeast Christian Church; and Waqar Saleem, board member of Muslim Americans for Compassion and Doctors for healthy Communities.

The past few years have seen several unfortunate instances where violence has found its way into houses of worship. Such violence has resulted in the deaths of several individuals who were seeking spiritual refuge in places thought to be safe from the trials of everyday life. As the violence continues, it grows more common for parishioners of all faith traditions to enter their houses of worship fearful of the consequences of their faith – even to the point where, in some instances, parishioners feel compelled to arm themselves as a protective measure against potential acts of terrorism.

To address this issue, Muslim Americans for Compassion joined several faith and community leaders for a Protecting Places of Worship Forum, which was held at Southeast Christian Church and hosted by the Kentucky Intelligence Fusion Center, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Kentucky Department of Homeland Security and the Louisville Metro Police Department. Suggestions, questions and concerns were addressed in what Muslim Americans for Compassion hopes to be one of many such occasions for discussion and action.