Press release

Sanctuaries under Siege: Fear among US Worshippers Centered on Armed Intruders

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In places of worship – the hallowed spaces that offer refuge and
sanctuary – more than 1 in 10 Americans (12%) say they do not feel safe.
Their top concern: 45% said they feared armed intruders.

These and other findings from the new Church Mutual House of Worship
Safety and Security Study
1 were released today by Church
Mutual Insurance Company, the nation’s leading insurer of religious
organizations. It is the first survey commissioned by the organization
to examine Americans’ safety and security concerns related to their
places of worship. Of the 2,001 consumers surveyed, more than half (51%)
said that they regularly attend a church or house of worship.

“It’s deeply upsetting that today’s worshippers, regardless of religion,
have to contend with the very real possibility of an armed intruder,”
said Rich Poirier, Church Mutual president and CEO. “Even beyond
churches, many organizations, from schools to offices and factories, are
asking themselves, ‘What do we do if an armed intruder enters our
facility?’”

Fear of armed intruders surpassed natural disasters (25%), cybersecurity
breaches (11%) and even sexual misconduct (13%) as the top
safety/security concern identified by the survey. Men who regularly
attend worship services were significantly more concerned about all the
potential threats facing houses of worship.

Preparing for the Unthinkable
When asked if their place of
worship had implemented a prevention/response plan for armed intruders,
39% said “yes,” while 61% indicated “no/don’t know.” Survey respondents
identified several ways that a house of worship could make attendees
feel safer:

  • 61% – communicate and educate on safety plans
  • 56% – work with local law enforcement to prepare
  • 55% – train staff and volunteers
  • 51% – develop response plans
  • 44% – increase physical security

“We know that people consider a safe and secure house of worship to be
very important,” said Poirier. “And nothing undermines our fundamental
sense of security than the possibility of violence. Our security experts
recommend all organizations have a response plan in place, and we also
have many resources and tools to help save lives.”

Church Mutual has created an armed intruder resource kit that’s
available to anyone at no cost, on their website. It features videos,
checklists, FAQs and important assessment and planning guides. To access
the tools and information, visit: https://www.churchmutual.com/6421/Armed-Intruder.

About Church Mutual
Church Mutual Insurance Company, founded
in 1897, offers specialized insurance for religious organizations of all
denominations, public and private K-12 schools, colleges and
universities, senior living facilities, camps and conference centers,
and nonprofit and human services organizations throughout the United
States. Church Mutual markets most lines of commercial property and
liability insurance, including multi-peril, workers’ compensation and
commercial auto insurance. In addition to insurance, Church Mutual
provides a spectrum of value-added solutions that benefit its customers.
Church Mutual holds the following honors:

  • A.M. Best Company “A” (excellent) rating
  • 2018 Ward’s 50 Top Performing Property and Casualty Insurers
  • BenchmarkPortal Top 10 National Customer Service Center
  • Wisconsin 75 by Deloitte US, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Futuremakers Partner, by Wisconsin Technical College System
  • Celent Model Insurer for innovation and emerging technologies
  • Award in Innovation for entrepreneurialism and innovation, by National
    Association of Mutual Insurance Companies

1Church Mutual Insurance Company conducted an online survey
through SMS
Research Advisors
, The Church Mutual House of Worship Safety and
Security Study
from March 28 – April 1, 2019 with a nationally
representative sample of 2,001 ages 18+.