Two New York church buildings that withstood the carnage of September 11’s terrorist attacks installed metal detectors to ensure their sanctuaries remain sanctums.
Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, which have endured over 300 years of American history and once stood in the shadow of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, installed metal detectors on March 1 in the face of what church leadership sees as the increasing dangers of a post 9/11 world, according to The Associated Press. No particular event led to the decision to install the devices; but an Islamic terrorist attack in Fall 2017 — a man used a truck to kill eight people at a nearby location — forced them to acknowledge the reality of the dangers present in the current state of the world, church leadership said.
“While no one wants to have to implement such measures, it’s a reflection of the times we live in and our desire to keep our people — parishioners and visitors — safe,” Trinity Church Vicar Rev. Phillip Jackson told AP.
The metal detectors would remain onsite “until this world becomes a safer place,” Jackson said.
The two church buildings serve not only as Christian sanctuaries and places of worship but also as historical sites that draw visitors year round. Alexander Hamilton and John Jay attended Trinity, which also serves as the site of Hamilton’s grave. President George Washington prayed in St. Paul’s Chapel, which celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016 and is the only colonial era chapel remaining in Manhattan.
that While St. Paul’s and Trinity are not under any particular threat, the metal detectors are necessary to ensure worshipers’ and visitors’ safety given the fact their location is a high profile target for potential terrorist attacks, Trinity Church Wall Street Chief Communications Officer Patti Walsh reiterated in a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation. They are not the only church buildings to adopt heightened security measures, Walsh also noted.
“There is no imminent threat to Trinity or St. Paul’s, and planning for these new measures has been in the works for some time. That said, lower Manhattan is considered to be one of the country’s top terrorist targets,” Walsh told TheDCNF in a statement.
“While it saddens Trinity to implement these measures, the times we live in necessitate this action. This is not unique to this parish; it is a conversation that is being had by other houses of worship,” Walsh added.
The metal detectors were indicative of the current climate, but only in the sense of heightened fearful mentalities as opposed to necessity, other religious leaders agreed.
called The metal detectors are “a shame,” San Diego Jewish Academy’s Advanced Institute for Judaic Studies Director Rabbi Philip Graubart said. Security measures of that caliber create a “fortress” atmosphere that “reinforces fear as a daily emotion,” Graubart posited.
“Unfortunately, it’s the madness of the world we live in,” Graubart added.
“Keeping Your Church Safe” author and church security consultant Ron Aguiar told AP that while American churches have increasingly used armed guards, he does not believe current threat levels have reached a point where metal detectors are necessary and has not begun recommending them to churches.
In addition to passing through metal detectors, visitors and worshipers will be required to have purses and large bags and containers searched, Walsh told TheDCNF. The security measures will remain in place during all hours the buildings are open to the public, including Sunday services.
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