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Attacks on Churches On The Rise

by | Tue, Feb 27 2024

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Hostility against American churches appears to be on the rise, according to the US Family Research Council (FRC). It identified 436 incidents targeting churches last year. That’s more than double the number in 2022 and eight times as many as in 2018.

The FRC detailed 315 cases of vandalism, 75 arson attacks, 10 gun-related incidents, 20 bomb threats and 37 other hate crimes. The incidents were spread across 48 states with California (33) and Texas (28) reporting most, and Hawaii and Wyoming recording none. The FRC has collected data since 2018, releasing regular Hostility Against Churches reports, identifying 915 incidents over the past six years.

“There is a common connection between the growing religious persecution abroad and the rapidly increasing hostility toward churches here at home: our government’s policies. The indifference abroad to the fundamental freedom of religion is rivaled only by the increasing antagonism toward the moral absolutes taught by Bible-believing churches here in the US, which is fomenting this environment of hostility toward churches,”  said FRC President Tony Perkins.

The report documented an act of vandalism in June that caused over A$150,000 in damages to the Fowler United Methodist Church, a historically black church in Annapolis, Maryland. Vandals ripped pages from Bibles and hymnals, scattering the torn pages across the floor and pews. In addition to ripping the upholstered pews and taking down a large wooden cross, the vandals removed a Christian flag from its stand and stripped the church’s outdoor sign of its lettering.

The report lists a couple of acts of vandalism with anti-Israel or anti-Semitic sentiment after the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. In November, a We stand with Israel sign was spray-painted with the words Israel’s Genocide on the property of The Church in Decatur, Georgia. Around a dozen incidents included satanic imagery or symbols being painted on, or placed in churches, while crosses were turned upside down and holy oil was dumped out.”

Arielle Del Turco, director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty and the report’s author, believes that the effect of these acts of hostility is religious intimidation. “They send the message that churches are not wanted in the community or respected in general. Our culture is demonstrating a growing disdain for Christianity and core Christian beliefs, and acts of hostility against churches could be a physical manifestation of that. Regardless of the motivations of these crimes, everyone should treat churches and all houses of worship with respect and affirm the importance of religious freedom for all Americans,” she asserted.