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Is Your House of Worship Prepared to Respond to Violence?

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Houses of Worship are particularly vulnerable to violent attacks because, by their nature, they tend to be open and welcoming communities for all.

Religious bias fueled by hate often leads to attacks by active shooters, terrorists or bombers.

In the incidents studied by the FBI, 50% of violent attacks took place on a Sunday during Church services resulting in 21 people killed and 27 wounded.

Media reports illustrate that religious communities are at risk of:

  • Active Shooter – such as the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church often referred to as the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Anti-Semitism – illustrated by bomb threats, desecration of Jewish cemeteries, and violent threats against Jewish Community Centers.
  • Islamophobia – as illustrated by attacks such as the Quebec City Mosque attack.

FBI Statistics further illustrate that all major religious communities are vulnerable to hate crimes and violent attacks.

The ALICE Solution

ALICE empowers unarmed people collectively to save more lives during any violent attack — terrorist attacks, active shooter events, and violence. Rather than waiting passively for the police to arrive, ALICE empowers people. This is achieved by cultivating a survival mindset and instilling confidence in how skills already known can have a great impact on increasing survival with ALICE proactive, options-based training. These ALICE protocols transfer the power from the attacker to the victims and turn everyday actions into life saving measures.

The real first responders must be the people who are on scene when a violent attack begins because 60% of active shooter events are over before law enforcement arrives according to a FBI report.

ALICE Training is delivered through a blended approach of education and practice involving mandatory e-Learning together with Instructor Lead Training provided by ALICE Certified Instructors (ACI). To become an ALICE Certified Instructor, register for a course near you. Please note that the e-Learning module is available immediately after registering and provides the framework for attending the classes and participating in the practice drills. The ALICE blended method ensures that attendees have the basic knowledge and preparation required to really engage in the practical drill portion. It is an essential part of the ALICE toolbox where the terms and principles of ALICE are defined and explained. ALICE Certified Instructors (ACIs) rely on the e-Learning to ensure their trainees are prepared.

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The Department of Homeland Security recommends that each House of Worship develop a plan of action if a violent attack occurs on their premises. In so doing, the community can understand their options, and know how they can respond to significantly increase their survivability.

ALICE is in line with these recommendations by the federal and state government agencies across the US: Department of Homeland Security (DHS); Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); US Department of Education; State of Alabama; State of Massachusetts; Ohio Attorney General; State of Illinois; State of Minnesota; State of Vermont; among others.

ALICE strategies are the national standard for preparation and training in responding to violent situations, and after 15 years these strategies are now mandated by the federal government for executive branch employees.

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ALICE Resources

Why Proactive, Options-based Training like ALICE is Needed

Without a proactive response:

After participating in a Bible study at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Church, a young man pulled out a handgun shouting racial epithets and began shooting at the 13 others in attendance. In a shooting spree lasting almost 6 minutes, the shooter fired approximately 74 times and changed magazines 5 times according to survivors. Some magazines were almost entirely used to shoot a single victim.

There were 54 documented hits on innocent people.

9 people were killed.

4 were unharmed.

These innocent victims, like many victims from other violent events, may have had options to respond, but did not know about these options. For generations, our society has trained people to respond passively to violence which has led to these grave outcomes.


With a proactive response:

At the First Baptist Church in Maryville IL, a stranger walked down the center aisle during the Worship service, pulled out a gun and shot at the pastor. The pastor used his Bible in an attempt to deflect the bullets. Four rounds were fired before the gun jammed.

After the gun jammed, the shooter pulled out a knife as he was being brought under control by two congregants: Terry Ballard and Keith Melton. Both men suffered knife wounds, but they brought the attack to an end. There were approximately another 150 people in attendance. Despite his efforts to deflect, the pastor was struck down and killed.

These individuals are heroes who bravely took action in the face of grave tragedy to help save others.