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1999-2019 DFI Study: 2nd of 3 Parts

Last week the FBSN released the updated Deadly Force Incident (DFI) study of the worst of all faith-based related violence in the U.S. That information now captures data from 21 years of learning from the 2,183 incidents in the study.

It is not just numbers. It is an effort to help us get better at protection.

This week I want to document the history of the study, in the 2nd of 3 parts of that release.

In 1996, I began writing a book about security in faith-based organizations (Evil Invades Sanctuary was published in 2012). To establish a baseline confirmation of the need, I researched crime at ministries. A surprise emerged in that research, in how many of those incidents had violent deaths, or the potential for such associated with them. The quantity of such attacks was undocumented, so I developed methods of tracking.

National news stories would break regarding some church violence. I would be annoyed by reporters saying something like, “this is the 5th church shooting in 10 years”.

I couldn’t discern what a “shooting” meant. I still can’t. It’s an attention-getting title with many variations of meaning. To consider “shootings” would not be a realistic approach to define the issue. I needed a violence category to title appropriately. That led to the title of “deadly force incidents”.

I knew it wasn’t about shootings and knew it was happening more than reported.

In 1999, I read the 1992 Kristen French story that became the foundation of the DFI research. Her story troubled me more than most. Though her story was out of Canada, it became the model by which I researched. My hope for effective readiness in faith-based environments is that stories like that of Kristen French would be kept rare. Her story caused me to examine violence connected with faith-based environments in a more inclusive way.

Kristen French was simply walking through a church parking lot when she was tricked, abducted, tortured and eventually killed by two of the cruelest murderers one can imagine. Investigators discovered a video taken by the husband / wife team that murdered her.

Some of Kristen’s last words were, “some things are worth dying for.”

Think About It…

If this work were dedicated to any person, it would be Kristen French. Her story prompted how the DFI study is conducted.

Next week we unpack the compiled data of the study for application.

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