Photo: (left) “Church Security Seminar” and (right) firearms training led by the National Organization for Church Security and Safety Management
By Thomas Lambert
After multiple mass shootings in Texas churches, some companies have filled the demand for security by offering training courses to arm and prepare parishioners for these kind of attacks. These programs are geared towards right-wing men, typically with police or military backgrounds, and are intended to facilitate the formation of teams with security goals broader than only defending against mass shooters.
In November 2017, the deadliest shooting in Texas occured at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist church. This shooting would lead to the formation of amateur church security teams throughout Texas, such as the one at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement. In December of 2019, a shooter killed two in White Settlement before he was fatally shot by a member of the church’s volunteer security, Jack Wilson, himself a former Sheriff’s deputy also running for a county commissioner as a Republican.
Since then, right-wing groups such as Turning Point USA have propagated the idea that individuals should carry and train with firearms as a solution to mass shootings, and more churches have started to organize their own security teams.
Chuck Chadwick, president of the National Organization for Church Security and Safety Management (NOCSSM), has been training and organizing security teams for churches since 2002 after leaving his position as security for a high-end auction house to lead security teams for two Texas megachurches. Chadwick made this decision in the wake of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, and the subsequent growing fears around terrorism.
Chadwick’s trainings mirror those taken by state-certified private security and focus on both armed responses to mass shootings as well as responses to other perceived ‘threats’ such as parking lot thefts. Like police training, protection of private property is central, and the imagined worst case scenarios are used to motivate church security teams to ‘protect their flock.’
NOCCSM operates on a policy of only providing training to Judeo-Christian churches, excluding mosques, which have in Texas have been routinely targeted by white supremacists and other reactionaries.
This combination of reactionary prejudice and high-alert training poise NOCCSM-trained security teams and ones like them to overreact to anyone they perceive as an outsider.
Mass shooters are the product of decaying US imperialism, where fascism carries more currency in a political climate of alienation and desperation. These armed church teams borrow from the same right-wing ideology as the basis for their organization, effectively helping to divide the working class and masses from uniting to overthrow the system that gives rise to mass shootings and build a new society in its place.