Religious Leaders Say Safety Cannot Be Guaranteed, Only Hoped For

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  "You look at what happened in New York, you look at what happened in Las Vegas, now we're talking about Texas; each one of these were different," said Dr. Randy Ehrhardt, Senior Minister at West Des Moines Christian Church. "We cannot hide, we cannot bury our heads in the sand. We can't sit there and quit living."

However, recent acts of violence have terrorized the public and created a climate of fear.

"I think a lot of people today are afraid to go to large public gatherings," said The Rev. Sarah Trone Garriott, Coordinator of Interfaith Engagement at Des Moines Area Religious Council. "There's concerns about sending your children to school, pretty much any public place is a place where you are at risk now."

It appears no place is safe, and tragic events that would have been unthinkable years ago, now seem almost commonplace.

"Unfortunately, this is what our nation has become, and it's very frightening that a sanctuary can't be a safe space," said Rev. Garriott.

The church shooting in Texas on Sunday has faith leaders looking at emergency response plans and asking how they can keep their congregations safe in a worst case scenario. Still, a sobering reality remains.

"I was a parish pastor for nine years, and being people of faith, it's about trust rather than certainty, and so we come together, hoping, and trusting for that community, for a better world, but we're not assured of it," said Garriott.

Ultimately, no matter what precautions are taken, safety cannot be guaranteed.

"A church needs to be a place of safety, a place where people feel welcome that they can come, that they belong. So you take safety seriously, you want them to feel they can come here and be safe and secure," said Dr. Randy Ehrhardt. "At the same time, our faith tells us not to live in fear. We can't let that stop us from living life to its fullest."