Report: ISIS promotes attacking churches around holidays

Posted at 12:39 PM, Dec 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-23 16:51:13-05

NORFOLK, Va. - ISIS has listed thousands of churches that it says supporters should attack during the holidays, according to reports.

The FBI sent out a bulletin about the threat to local law enforcement on Friday. The list of churches includes ones in Virginia, but so far the threat is not considered credible.

Bob Chauncey from the Church Security Institute consults with churches on their security measures. "Churches are soft targets because they're wide open," Chauncey said. "You never know when it's going to happen and that's why you have to try to be observant and alert to what could go on with the hope that it doesn't."

Chauncey recommends everyone stay vigilant when going to church this holiday weekend. "We believe that it's a ministry. The Bible calls for the pastor to be the shepherd and to protect and provide for his flock," Chauncey said. He also says churches should lock most doors and have greeters meet people in the parking lot.

The threat to churches is an unfortunate sign of the time. "It's almost like anything goes, so you can't take anything off the table," said Dr. Carol Pertlow, a political science professor at Norfolk State University.

The reports come after a man accused of trying to help ISIS was arrested in Suffolk this week. Lionel Williams faces up to 20-years in prison.