There's a church in Fairfax County that doesn't lock its doors.
It never has, as far as I know.
I was introduced to it about fifteen years ago. I was a teenager, questioning my faith and very depressed, and a boy took me there in the middle of the night to sing hymns. (This probably sounds a little precious to you, but I can assure you that to a teenage girl, it was great stuff and it helped me out a lot. I hope I made out with him in a serious way after we left the church. I'm sure I did.)
I've never forgotten that this church is unlocked. It's not a UU church, but it's a church just the same and I've been there a couple more times in the middle of the night in what felt like desperate circumstances and I've always found peace there, not so much for praying as for thinking in an environment conducive to looking beyond one's own problems and taking the long view.
Every time I've ever been, I've written an anonymous thank-you in the guestbook indicating that I was there in the middle of the night and that I was grateful that the church had been unlocked when I needed it.
By contrast, I've heard a lot about security measures at UU churches recently. People want to lock the doors during the service, to check packages, to let nothing evil cross our doors. A Chalicesseur actually attended a service yesterday where the church was locked from inside during the service.
I get the temptation.
But please, please don't.
I probably should have written this a couple of weeks ago as I did see this coming*.
But I was hoping that the "random whackjob wanting to hurt his ex-wife" explanation would be the commonly accepted one rather than the "holy war against liberalism" explanation.
Either way, locks and security won't keep evil from our doors if evil really wants to get in, but they will eat away at our feeling of safety with each other, our feeling that the church is a place we can come to that will be available for us.
I get that all churches can't be like my beloved church in Fairfax County. Indeed, with the world we live in, the "always unlocked" policy must be terribly controversial within the church itself. I am fairly confident that I will need that church again some awful night, and not at all confident that I won't find the doors soundly locked.
But we can't be locking people out on Sunday mornings.
If we start, those shootings will have damaged us in a much more widespread and serious way than merely killing two of our number.
And Evil will have won.
*Us Washingtonians know a bit about threats and the way people react to them.