USA: Attacks on Churches More than Doubled Compared to Previous Year

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In 2023, the number of attacks and vandalism against Christian places of worship in the United States more than doubled compared to the previous year, indicating a loss of reverence for the houses of God in American society caused by the marginalization of Christian values, reports

The report, entitled “Hostility Toward Churches,” published by the Family Research Council (FRC; an American religious right-wing NGO), recorded 436 acts of temple vandalism from January to November 2023, compared with it was 195.

According to the report's authors, the number of attacks on churches has been on the rise for at least several years. In 2021 there were 96 such incidents, in 2020 - 55, in 2019 - 83, in 2018 - 50.

The FRC published its first report on this issue in December 2022. Since then the situation has only gotten worse.

“While the motives for many of these acts of vandalism and desecration of holy places remain unknown, the rise in crimes targeting churches occurs in a context where American culture has become increasingly hostile to Christianity. Acts of vandalism and destruction of church property may be symptoms of a society's loss of reverence and respect for houses of worship and religion - in this case, churches and Christianity. Americans no longer seem to feel uncomfortable attacking church buildings, highlighting a larger problem of marginalization of core Christian teachings, including those that touch on sensitive issues related to human dignity and sexual orientation. Attacks on places of worship may also signal American society's rejection of religion in general,” the report says.

Here are some examples of attacks on churches in 2023:

  • Vandals spray-painted “Abortion is our right” on the grounds of a Baptist church in Palermo, Maine.

  • Vandals broke into a Protestant Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, causing $15,000 in damage;

  • Attackers poured paint on a monument to unborn babies in the Church of St. Rosalia in Pittsburgh, the second largest city in Pennsylvania.

The report says that in a number of cases, radical advocates of traditional values ​​are causing damage to some “progressive” churches. For example, unknown people tore down LGBT rainbow flags from several churches.

In turn, the director of the FRC Center for Religious Freedom and one of the authors of the report, Ariel Del Turco, said that the motives for many hostile actions may be unknown, but “the effect is obvious: intimidation of believers.”

“They send the message that churches are unwelcome in American society and are not respected in general. Our society demonstrates a growing contempt for Christianity and the main points of Christian teaching, and acts of vandalism can be considered a physical manifestation of this contempt. Regardless of the motive for these crimes, everyone must treat churches and all houses of worship with respect so that the right of all American citizens to religious freedom is respected,” she said.

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