The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh has welcomed a new £500,000 scheme to help places of worship install security measures to protect them against hate crime.
The fund will be open to all places of worship in Scotland. Religious groups will be consulted in the coming months to help develop the scheme.
Archbishop Cushley told BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought for the Day segment that the scheme was welcomed. “You know, we’re a security conscious lot. Most of us lock up our homes and vehicles and use passwords to protect our phones and computers. We want to feel safe. We want to feel secure,” However, citing the latest terror incident in London, he noted that few places are ever completely safe, “not even places of worship”.
“The Scottish Government recently announced funding to protect such places,” the archbishop continued. “The scheme makes half-a-million pounds available to churches, temples and mosques to install security measures to protect them against hate crime.
“It’s a move meant to reassure us that no-one should fear violence, and that’s surely to be commended. But security gates and CCTV, while practically important, will never be 100 per cent effective.”
Archbishop Cushley also noted that families, close relationships and communities are also places where people should feel secure, connected, cared for, comforted and loved, and highlighted the importance of feeling peace in one’s heart.
“When the disciples were feeling vulnerable, Jesus told them to trust God, saying: ‘Let not your heart be troubled’. He knew that the heart is our safe place and that it must be protected above all things.
“Why? Because when your heart is troubled, it robs you of all your peace – if you’ve been broken-hearted, you’ll know what I mean. But when our heart is safe and serene, well, that’s a different story. It lifts our whole being.
“Knowing this, gives us the empathy required to help others with spiritual and practical support. And when our heart is in the right place, we all benefit and our communities become safer places for everyone.
“I hope all places of worship will be treated as sanctuaries of prayer and safety; and I hope your heart and your home are a haven of peace today.”
Picture: The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Leo Cushley.