Soft Target

Last Easter three churches were bombed by terrorists in Sri Lanka and 290 people were killed. World Vision International became concerned about its facilities around the world and has them to increase their security practices. The English Catholic community rents the auditorium of World Vision in Phnom Penh for its Saturday evening mass and now we need to introduce new security measures. We had an extensive meeting with World Vision and heard their requests for really stringent measures that wouldn’t be suitable for a church service, e.g., signing in and signing out, bringing no bags, backpacks, etc.

In the end we arranged that all our members will be issued ID badges which they must wear each week. Because we get tourists and others coming to our services irregularly, people without badges will be asked to sign in and possibly have their backpacks checked. It’s a nuisance but a measure we can live with. About ten years ago I was talking to an official of the U.S. State Department and he cautioned me that our congregation would be a prime soft target for terrorists. It’s all foreigners, we have various ambassadors and UN officials coming, and it would generate a lot of publicity which would be attractive to the terrorists.