BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Training to stay safe in an environment where most feel comfortable is becoming more necessary. We’re talking about keeping your eyes out for suspicious behavior in church.
“It’s imperative that we know what to do in those types of situations because if we are prepared in advance, we can actually take the time to support those in need during a disaster, an emergency,” said Stephanie Wagner, regional director of communication and marketing for the American Red Cross.
“The reality is that hatred exists in this world and that Christians and Jews and Muslims and Bahai. We are all at risk,” said Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade, executive director of The Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge.
Clergy members heard from the Baton Rouge Police Department, who passed along tips like creating a security plan and training staff to be aware of suspicious behavior.
“At some point, we have to say stop,” Bade said. “We also have to be smart about how we protect our houses of worship.”
Mary Mullen, who was also at the training, says this session is not about looking out for just the people in a particular congregation, but everyone in the faith-based community.
“My eyes have been really opened up and expanded to not just what’s going on in my community, but the greater community as a whole," she said.
This group, pushing unity, justice, and peace, has been planning this session for a while now, even before the recent attacks across the world. It’s a harsh reality, but leaders say it’s necessary.
“I think all of us, no matter our faith tradition, people of goodwill should be concerned about the level of hatred that we see toward people of faith,” Bade said.
“We see all this realness and us kind of a lot want to reject it because of how real it is, ‘That’s not happening to me. That’s not happening in my community,’ but the fact is, that it is,” Mullen said.
With over 600 congregations in East Baton Rouge Parish, leaders say now is the time to unify.
Because the session was about being ready for unfortunate events, participants also learned about preparing for arson, hurricanes, and floods.
The Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge, established in 1986, “serves as a catalyst for communication, coordination, and collaboration among the local faith community.”