Second annual nationwide survey conducted by Church Mutual
MERRILL, Wis. – As coronavirus restrictions ease and places of worship slowly begin to open their doors, many worshippers are eager to return to their spiritual sanctuaries. Surprisingly, considering these turbulent times, the overwhelming majority of Americans polled feel their houses of worship are, indeed, safe sanctuaries – even more than in 2019.
According to the second annual House of Worship Safety and Security Study1 by Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. (a stock insurer)2, the nation’s leading insurer of religious organizations, 96% of Americans now say that they feel safe where they worship, compared to 88% polled in 2019. The national online survey, using a sample representative of the U.S. census, was conducted during the week of February 24, 2020. It surveyed 1,009 adults who identified with a religious denomination and reported attending religious services.
For many respondents, the increased feeling of safety stems from knowing their religious organization is taking steps to prevent what they consider to be the top two dangers: the threat of physical violence from malicious armed intruders and natural disasters, respectively. In the new survey, when respondents were asked whether they knew of their church or house of worship implementing a prevention/response plan, only 20% said they didn’t know, compared to 30% in 2019.
While feelings of safety have increased since 2019, most worshippers still expect their institution to keep them informed of preventive measures and response planning – whether or not they knew if a plan was in place. When asked what a church or place of worship should do to make its members feel safer, the top response, at 59%, was “communicate and educate congregants,” closely followed by “train staff and volunteers,” “work with local law enforcement” and “implement response plans.”
Armed intruders and physical violence remain worshippers’ top safety concern in 2020, as in 2019. Yet according to FBI data, places of worship accounted for only 4% of 250 active shootings in the United States between 2000 and 2017. Congregants are also becoming increasingly concerned about sexual misconduct.
“All faith leaders want to offer their members a safe place to worship,” said Rich Poirier, Church Mutual president and CEO. “Fortunately, some of the most effective safety prevention tactics are the simplest – from controlling access to entrances during services to teaching members to report the warning signs of violence.”
“We recommend that faith leaders invest the time to create formalized safety and security plans – and to review them regularly while conducting practice drills. Not only do these plans have the potential to save lives, but by keeping members informed of your preventive measures, you’ll also help to alleviate their fears.”
Churches and places of worship can get a head start on their safety and security plans at no cost, using a robust toolkit of resources created by Church Mutual to help assess risks and create and implement a safety and security plan.
About Church Mutual
Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. (a stock insurer)1, founded in 1897, offers specialized insurance for religious organizations of all denominations, public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities, senior living facilities, secular and non-secular camps and conference centers, and nonprofit and human services organizations throughout the United States. Church Mutual markets most lines of commercial property and liability insurance, including multi-peril, workers' compensation and commercial auto insurance. In addition to insurance, Church Mutual provides a spectrum of value-added solutions that benefit its customers. Church Mutual holds the following honors:
- A.M. Best Company "A" (excellent) rating
- BenchmarkPortal Top 10 National Customer Service Center
- Wisconsin 75 Top Private Company by Deloitte US, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019
- Wisconsin 75 Distinguished Performer: Innovation by Deloitte US 2019
- Futuremakers Partner by Wisconsin Technical College System
- Celent Model Insurer for innovation and emerging technologies
- Award in Innovation for entrepreneurialism and innovation by National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
- 2018-2019 Employer of the Year by Northcentral Technical College
1Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I., conducted an online survey through SMS Research Advisors, The Church Mutual House of Worship Safety and Security Study in February 2020 with a nationally representative sample of 1,009 ages 18+.
2Church Mutual is a stock insurer whose policyholders are members of the parent mutual holding company formed on 1/1/20. S.I. = a stock insurer.