Nothing will stop a murderous shooter like the one who gunned down 26 worshippers at a Baptist church in Texas, insists one Utah evangelical Christian, but a bullet to the head.
In other words, a good guy with a gun.
“Jesus says, ‘I did not come to bring peace but a sword,’” Chuck Huyck, a retired federal law enforcement officer, said Thursday. “In order to have peace, we have to kill the evil.”
And next month, Huyck will offer a workshop next month to teach Utah Christian congregations how to do just that — develop a security plan to respond to “any and all threats.”
The tough-talking trainer runs Soldiers of God Missions, which, according to its website, “calls all men out of their comfort zone, and equips them to stand against the enemy, both physical and spiritual.”
At a Thursday news conference, Standing Together, a consortium of Utah evangelical churches, introduced Huyck and his upcoming training, tentatively set for Dec. 16.
A dozen or so pastors stepped up to the microphone to condemn the violence and to express their collective “sympathy, sorrow and solidarity for the families and communities who have lost loved ones to senseless and random violence, death and destruction.”
In a news release, the ministers called upon all “like-minded churches and faith communities to set aside a short portion of their weekly worship service this coming Sunday to pray for the families of the victims in Las Vegas, New York and Sutherland Springs [Texas], for their comfort and that they might experience the healing power of God’s presence in their lives.”
They further asked believers to pray as well that “this violence in our society would end and that these types of mass shootings would cease in our nation.”
The group of pastors noted that the Huyck workshop on dealing with potential assaults will be open to all communities of faith, not just evangelical churches.
“Unfortunately, this is our new normal,” lamented Pastor Greg Johnson, the consortium’s director. “It grieves our hearts that we have to be carefully thinking of security and security teams. The last thing we want to do is put metal detectors at our front doors. That is not the image we want to be part of a church experience.”
About half the evangelical churches in the Salt Lake Valley, Johnson said, have armed security teams at services already.
Life Church in West Valley City, he pointed out, has hired police officers, whose patrol cars are there for every meeting.
“If I’m a shooter and I see a police officer’s car,” he said, “I’m going to avoid your church.”
Other Utah faith communities across the religious spectrum have also hired armed security personnel and made the guards visible in hopes of scaring off any would-be attackers.
Even those without such protectors, Johnson said, have members who carry firearms to church.
“We don’t have gun-free zones in most of our evangelical churches,” Johnson said. “Most pastors are comforted by that.”
On the flip side, Utah’s predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has taken steps under state law to bar guns from its meetinghouses.
In his workshop for pastors, Huyck will outline ways to identify weaknesses in a church building, to defuse potentially dangerous exchanges, and to assess the presence of unfamiliar attendees.
“The only thing that is going to stop an active shooter is if he runs out of ammo,” he said, “or if somebody puts a bullet in his head.”
Escalating violence is happening because the devil is unleashed and the end is near, Huyck added. “We have pushed God out of the equation.”
With such murderous attacks “getting more and more frequent,” he said, “we have to be ready.”