Report: Unprecedented Rise in Hate Crimes against American Churches

Attacks on churches and Christian institutions on American soil are at an all-time high.  The Mar. 27, 2023 killings in Nashville — where a woman claiming to be a man (AKA "transgender") stormed a private Christian school and murdered three children and three adults — is just the tip of the iceberg.

According to recent reports by the Family Research Council, "criminal acts against churches have been steadily on the rise for the past several years."  While relying on limited open-source information — meaning that the actual number "of acts of hostility [against churches] is undoubtedly much higher" — the organization managed to verify "a total of 420 documented acts of hostility that occurred between January 2018 and September 2022" across the United States.

Some of these, while not lethal, were reminiscent of the Nashville shooting:

Three gun-related incidents occurred on church property in the first three months of 2023, including the shooting at The Covenant School [in Tennessee]. In one incident, two adults and two juveniles shot 50 rounds from 9mm pistols at a Mennonite church building in Versailles, Missouri; the property damage was charged as a hate crime.  In another incident, a late-night shooting took place in the parking lot of the Praise Temple Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, sending four individuals to the hospital.

Every year since 2021 has seen a steady increase in attacks on churches.  As the report notes,

[i]n the first quarter of 2023 [Jan, Feb, and Mar], 69 incidents have already occurred. If this rate continues, 2023 will have the highest number of incidents of the six years FRC has tracked, continuing the upward trend. ... Compared to the same [three month] timeframe in previous years, January through March of 2023 represents a significant increase in acts of hostility. In those same months, 2018 saw 15 acts of hostility against churches; 2019 saw 12; 2020 saw none [due to lockdowns]; 2021 saw 14; and 2022 saw 24.

In other words, there were more church attacks in the first quarter of this year than there were in the first quarters of the preceding five years combined.

Of the 69 attacks on churches to occur between January and March of 2023, the overwhelming majority, 53 (78%), consisted of vandalism and random property destruction.  The rest included ten incidents of arson, three gun-related, and three bomb threats.  Three of these attacks featured more than one of these categories.

While vandalism is the most innocuous of these crimes, it also best demonstrates their true motivation: hate.  As the report notes,

Many of the acts of vandalism represented unexplained acts of destruction, such as an outdoor nativity scene being destroyed or rocks being thrown through a window.

Other acts of defacement and desecration featured the beheading of Christian statues, the burning of crosses, and the scrawling of Satanic symbols on churches.

Regarding the mindless damage caused by vandals on Valentine's Day to a Presbyterian church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a church worker said,

I just don't understand. I keep wondering why. It shows a great deal of anger. And were they angry at us? Were they angry at churches? Were they angry at God? I just don't understand why someone would do this.

While the identity of the assailants is often unknown (or intentionally concealed), a growing number appear to be, like the Nashville murderer, gender-confused people. 

For example, on Jan. 3, 2023, Cameron David Storer, a man claiming to be a woman, burned down a 117-year-old church building in response to "voices in [his] head."

One month later, on Mar. 3 — the day after the Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill that would protect children from sexual mutilation (AKA "gender-transitioning") — vandals spray-painted "TRANS PWR" on St. Joseph Catholic Church in Louisville. 

After saying, "The problem of acts of hostility against churches in the United States is widespread and growing," Arielle Del Turco, of the Family Research Council, said that these crimes point

to a larger spiritual battle and a growing climate of hostility toward Christianity. The motivations for some of these acts of vandalism, arson, gun-related incidents, bomb threats, or other acts appear political while many more seem completely inexplicable. Yet, all of these incidents represent a deeply concerning trend and have the potential to be intimidating.

On the other hand, these trends are consistent with developments all around the world.  Even in Europe, the world's former bastion of Christianity, several churches are desecrated daily, including by being defecated and urinated on, though this phenomenon gets little to zero news coverage. 

And while Muslim migrants have been the traditional culprits — European cities with large Muslim populations often see a concomitant rise in attacks on churches and Christian symbols — so-called "leftist" elements, and not just gender-confused people, but flaming wokists of all stripes, are increasingly behind the church desecrations. 

In Canada, for instance, which was once described as "the church burning centre of the Western world" (though, clearly, its southern neighbor is giving it a run for its money), dozens of churches have been vandalized and torched, to official cheers, on the flimsy pretext of historic "grievances."

Here a seeming irony arises:  the worldviews of, on the one hand, "woke" people and, on the other, Muslims are virtually antithetical: the former can be typified by extreme liberalism and an abnegation of reality, while the latter is the epitome of authoritarianism, patriarchy, and stark dogmatism.

So what explains their shared hatred for Christian churches?  The answer seems simple enough: whereas amoral secularism is willing to accommodate and appease just about anything, churches cling to their own — that is, distinctly Christian — worldview, and this worldview rejects and contradicts much of what both the woke and the Muslim believe.  As (the now "canceled") Tucker Carlson said, while explaining why a "trans" woman murdered six people in Tennessee:

[The] victims were murdered because they were Christians. It's that simple. Transgenderists hate Christians above all not because Christians are a physical threat — the third-graders [killed] were not a physical threat — but because Christians refuse to join every other liar in our society and proclaim that transgenderists are gods with the power to change nature itself. Christians are not allowed to say that they have their own God. And for that refusal, that unwillingness to bow down and worship a false idol, in this case of transgenderism, they were murdered.

Be that as it may, what cannot be denied is that hate for and violence against Christians and their places of worship — which once typified and were largely limited to the Muslim world — have reached America and are rapidly spreading.

Raymond Ibrahim, author of Defenders of the West and Sword and Scimitar, is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Image via Pixnio.

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