Report: Attacks on Churches Increased 800% in 6 Years

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Attacks on churches have increased nearly 800 percent in less than six years, indicating that “hostility against U.S. churches is not only on the rise but also accelerating,” a Family Research Council (FRC) report found.

Between 2018 and 2023, FRC identified 915 acts of hostility against churches in the United States by analyzing open-source documents, reports, and media outlets. In just the last year alone (between January and November of 2023), 436 acts of hostility against churches occurred, according to the report.

“This was more than double the number of incidents in all 12 months of 2022, which was 195. It also marked the second consecutive year that saw more than twice the number of incidents of the year before,” the report states. “There were at least 96 incidents in 2021, 55 in 2020, 83 in 2019, and 50 in 2018. Over the entire reporting period for this report, from 2018 to 2023, acts of hostility appear to have increased in frequency over time”

The report notes that the increase “could be due in part to increased public reporting on crimes against churches, resulting in more available data than in the past.”

By category, 315 attacks in 2023 were vandalisms, 75 were arson attacks or arson attempts, ten were gun-related, 20 were bomb threats, and 37 fell in the “other” category. Seventeen incidents fell into multiple categories, according to the report.

Between 2018 and 2023, there were at least 709 occurrences of vandalism, 135 arson attacks or attempts, 22 gun-related incidents, 32 bomb threats, and 61 other incidents (assault, threats, interruption of worship services, etc.). In 39 cases, multiple types of hostility occurred (e.g., vandalism and arson), the report states.

The incidents occurred in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, although states with larger populations tended to report more incidents.

According to the FRC, the motives of most of incidents are unknown, although many attacks had political overtones and several were overtly Satanic. At least 59 of the churches in the report were repeat victims with verifiable timeframes of the incidents, according to the FRC. 

“Some acts of vandalism against churches appeared to have been motivated by anger toward the targeted church. Other acts appeared to have a political motivation. Some incidents appeared to have been committed by juveniles or persons struggling with mental illness,” the report states. “Several instances of vandalism also involved theft. Many acts of vandalism against churches were under criminal investigation; a minority were under investigation as hate crimes. Police were often unable to identify the vandals.”

The longest section of the report is a 97-page list of attacks on churches, which are corroborated by 50 pages of endnotes.

Standout cases include several incidents of transgender violence against churches. The most shocking incident was the March 27 shooting at Nashville Covenant School. Trans-identifying Audrey Hale reportedly shot and killed six people, including three young students. Hale, who went by the male name “Aiden,” left behind a manifesto, most of which law enforcement refused to release, although a few pages were leaked.

The report lists another attack on January 3, 2023, by a man named Cameron Storer who identifies as a female. Storer is accused of setting fire to Portland Korean Church, a 117-year-old historic vacant building. Storer told investigators that he heard voices telling him to burn the church down.

On March 3, 2023, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Louisville, Kentucky, was vandalized with the painted message: “TRANS PWR.” The incident occurred after the state legislature overrode the Democrat governor’s veto of a bill that protects minors for sex mutilating surgeries.

A number of incidents were linked to pro-abortion hostility after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. And “at least 12 incidents included satanic imagery or symbols,” the report notes, listing several examples. 

The FRC said it “set out to analyze publicly available data to better understand the problem and determine whether there has been a statistically significant increase over time” due to “the perceived increased in acts of hostility against churches in the United States.” The FRC released the February report following a similar report on incidents that occurred between January 2018 and September 2022.

The FRC said the report is not comprehensive and that “many acts of hostility against churches are likely not reported to authorities and/or are not featured in the news or other online sources from which we collected data.”

“Thus, the number of acts of hostility is undoubtedly much higher than the number reflected in this report. This report is intended to compile the publicly reported data and identify any trends,” the report states. 

Author of the report Arielle Del Turco noted that while the motivations of many attacks are unknown, “the rise in crimes against churches is taking place in a context in which American culture appears increasingly hostile to Christianity.” She wrote: 

Criminal acts of vandalism and destruction of church property may be symptomatic of a collapse in societal reverence and respect for houses of worship and religion—in this case, churches and Christianity Americans appear increasingly comfortable lashing out against church buildings, pointing to a larger societal problem of marginalizing core Christian beliefs, including those that touch on hot-button political issues related to human dignity and sexuality. Attacks on houses of worship may also signal a discomfort with religion in general.

“The free exercise of religion has always been an essential component of American society and is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution as a basic right,” she added. “Attempts to prevent religious exercise through threats or violence should be soundly condemned by anyone who values the First Amendment.”

Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on X @thekat_hamilton.


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