FBI report about threats to churches leaked to public

Published: Dec. 13, 2018 at 11:08 PM CST
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At least two posts by police departments in east Texas that caused some people to panic.

One says the department received information from the FBI that there may be 'attacks on Texas churches from lone wolf ISIS members,' and that the phrases 'very soon' and 'have a happy Sunday' were used in the threat.

A routine report sent out by the FBI to update local police departments about any threats pertaining to their area was circulated this week to the public.

Paris police chief Bob Hundley says the report was only meant for police.

But it raised many eyebrows once it hit social media, including those of area pastors.

"The issue with someone coming in and doing something violent is something that we've done some thinking about from time to time," said Reverend Doctor Lander Bethel, pastor of Grand Avenue Presbyterian and First Presbyterian of Denison.

Departments that chose to share the information in posts on Facebook have since taken them down but Hundley says the fear they instilled left many people looking to their churches and wondering how safe they are there.

"It puts the values of welcoming and hospitality sometimes in conflict with safety and security," said Bethel.

Bethel says he is fighting the fear of violence in his sanctuaries with his faith and logic.

"Recognizing that there may be people who are angry, who are upset, or who want to act out in some violent ways. For the most part, they're not going to show up. They're not going to act out. It's a tiny, tiny part of the population," said Bethel.

No matter what happens, Bethel says the doors to his sanctuary will be open during the service but says they are vigilant.

"Remember the values of our faith, which have to do with love and trust and being willing to risk, in welcoming the stranger and caring for people in need," said Bethel.

Hundley said in a statement about the original threat "We should all be aware that there are people out there who wish to harm the USA and remain vigilant."