Having faith groups assess their own crisis readiness, equipping their members with improvised first aid skills, and putting together detailed emergency response plans are some measures to prepare religious organisations here to handle a crisis such as a terrorist attack on their premises. The Crisis Preparedness for Religious Organisations programme will help these groups to better protect their premises and congregants, and assist the larger community when a crisis strikes. It is the latest initiative under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth's SGSecure Community Network, which aims to connect religious organisations and get places of worship to be ready in an emergency.
The programme should work well at two levels. Places of worship themselves are, lamentably, prime targets for terrorists and extremists. Any attack on them is loaded symbolically, apart from being ghastly physically, because it is an act of spiritual desecration along with human devastation. When a white supremacist gunman went on a rampage at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on March 15 last year, he attacked the status of those places as sites of religious communion along with killing 51 people and injuring dozens. In last year's Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, suicide bombers killed more than 250 people at churches and hotels. While innocents suffered at both locations, the church attacks symbolised an assault on religious identity along with personal security. As in New Zealand, an entire religious community in Sri Lanka was put at risk through the desecration of places of worship.