Faith under fire: How 3 congregations coped with mass shootings

ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas sat down with religious leaders whose congregations suffered three of the worst attacks on houses of worship in American history.
9:21 | 06/09/19

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Transcript for Faith under fire: How 3 congregations coped with mass shootings
The tension congresswoman. Alexandra Costa protests and redhead to proceed its fleet and upon Omar. I was totally excited and pleased when I heard about 49 Muslims were killed in many. Many more are wanted. In New Zealand this is a great start. Let's hope and pray that it continues here in the unit in the good old USA. Up only only the only good Muslim is there is a problem. Congresswoman she Italy reading it now she received in the wake of a devastating mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques. And now that terror target as saying truce has hit home here in the US crimes motivated by religious hate on the rise. Our chief just personal interpreter Thomas is him here pier you sat down with Louisa three congregations shattered. That's right George sadly. Mass shootings have become a part of American culture more than a 150 cases so far this year no location is immune. Not even houses of worship. Houses of worship are supposed to be places of refuge. Spiritual renewal of peace joy. Sanctuaries to seek guard they're not supposed to be war zone. Recently a massacre of two mosques in New Zealand. And here at home attempted mass murder at a California synagogue that left one dead and three wounded. People are scared right now this is something. Now that is going worldwide. Complacency is your enemy we need to be vigilant not not fearful. Yeah yeah yeah. I. These stark warning for the millions of Americans who go to houses of worship each weekend. From religious leaders who congregations suffered through the worst attack on houses of worship in American history. These independent churches completely shut down here please send somebody lately. Mother. AME church Charleston, South Carolina. Nine African American parishioners gunned down during prayer meeting or a white supremacist. First Baptist Church Sutherland springs Texas. 26 murdered during Sunday morning services many of them children. Trio ride civil guard Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Eleven shot to death during Saturday morning worship. OPEC talk about. All the security. The aftermath hurt almost as much as what the shooter did it in our church right armory is the pastor of first back to Sutherland springs. His daughter and a bill only fourteen. Was among those killed. In his wife Cheri were both out of town at the time of the massacre though he still pained by having to tell his wife over the phone. Their daughter's death when she was at an airport. Ari. It's that effective had a colored pillar of whom by foam. That bill was gone. As I was at the security. Table about to walk through security. And I just fell to my knees. The memories painful. Healing never easy especially since these kinds of attacks on houses of worship keep coming. When that synagogue in California was recently attacked. Alan Carlson says the reaction at the tree of life in Pittsburgh. Was immediate. And it essentially just opens the wounds again and to really really hard to see. Senior folks looked almost reliving the entire event. And the healing can be challenging when the congregations. Continued to received threats. Have you sit received some sense I received one three cent this. Three weeks ago it doesn't take a vacation doesn't hate does not indication. They say with the nation so divided. Religious leaders in people of faith must do more to bridge gaps. We need to quit being so biased and start holding in loving one another and and having actual discourse. And in conversation. For you say. Your wrong people to say to that person. Our respect you. I love you and I appreciate who you war. Of these leaders also say that in the face of the our ongoing threat. Congregations needed more than words and prayers. Well of course first things that we we did was deployed back of Cameron's other doors were locked. You can only access to churches their security there or via an appointment tree of life in some springs the boning Moran is is secure. Armed security. Any type of special event we have uniformed police officers there if people come in and we don't recognize their route back so our route. Our search and we've done the cameras. This cutie barriers. Several barriers in some cases the issue of security is quite personal. He bought me again for Christmas now we both thought that was the right thing at the time. Have still not text. With all the pain and challenges the worst w.'s have been struck by the resilience of their congregations. Any real healing sparked by their faith how does one heal. How does one forgive you really can't it's not until you choose. To let the book the love of god within need to manifest through you reverend Manning's answer came from the families of those who were killed during the shooters bond hearing. A top. And how don't know him into the hall of. We have not seen that level of forgiveness so quickly. Usually of course it takes. Some people some time so before some members and I know having gotten area. Make no mistake the route to feeling he's usually never street. I'm just recently. Beginning to say I am okay for a while there she wouldn't you know that it would eat wouldn't sleep it's okay to tell are going you're not okay. And it's okay to ask for help in acute stress the importance of counselors. In the end these leaders just won't give in to darkness. We're here because there is far more quit in the world than there is evil if you choose hope and mercy and grace. Over pessimism and and hate in device in this he gonna keel and you're going to be able to move forward. Please do not gonna give him with a very open about how hard this healing. I was struck by how candid they were they say they didn't just fall on their knees trade get up and they were okay. That this was profoundly. Personal for them the wife of the pastor from Texas talked about how not only did she lost her own daughter. But that she's been inspired by the fact that so many in her church are moving forward she spoke a one woman. Who lost an eighteen month old carpet on the she said if she can get up and go to church and worship and move on so should continue here about all the steps are taking security cameras guards outside saint Teresa cuts against the idea. That these are sanctuaries. That's right. I was recently at church and with our wife and we were walking through a lobby and there was a police officer. Patrol car stationed outside. I was thinking to myself ten years ago you would never even think to have security in a church but I think sadly many houses of worship will be going this direction. You cover this beat every single day one of the things we're seeing in recent years he crimes on the rise now becoming real national security threat. And and and a lot more focus on domestic terrorist. That's right well I was of the FBI briefing recently in the officials said that since October there's been a 30%. Increase in the number of cases involving white supremacists people who believe in white security. It's are ongoing concern. They are talking about. Different things that they can do on the domestic terrorism front but they say is it as an act of a period of facing. And we when things are seen obviously there's more focus now on gun safety although there's real gridlock in congress over that issue some progress. In the states what other. Kinds of solutions are you are officials looking. One of the things that people keep talking about is that they have to do a better drop of identifying people. Who are troubled who. Pap issues before they act in case after case you see these news warning shots so law enforcement officials have talked about how can they connect better too cute with communities and pursue these kind of cases before people can act out. The other thing that's being discussed. Is the fact that may be domestic terrorism laws need to be. More specific to give police and law enforcement more tools to act free speech is a really prickly issues. Real prickly issue than what would it one of the things are sees it all grows out of these deep division drain on our country. While in speaking with those religious leaders they talked about the fact that. They feel like the country is more department they can feel it. And they believe that there needs to be more dialogue more people talking openly about their disagreements anymore loving way. Here Thomas thanks for goodness that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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