Republican Louisiana Senator John Kennedy expressed his concern Tuesday in a letter to Attorney General William Barr about the recent attacks targeting Catholics across the country, urging Barr to hold the perpetrators responsible.
The letter points to a number of recent incidents involving alleged vandalism, attempted murder, and arson, that have targeted Catholic Churches, statues, and people themselves.
“Catholics are under attack in America. That is a sentence I hoped I would never have to write, but it is the reality we are facing,” Kennedy writes. “Since the start of the street protests beginning in May, too many accompanied by riots, there have been at least nineteen attacks on Catholic Churches, statues, businesses, cemeteries, parishioners, and personnel.”
The incidents include multiple arsons. Kennedy mentions the attack that took place at Queen of Peace Catholic Sanctuary in July, when Steven Shields is alleged to have crashed his vehicle into the front doors of the church, then proceeded to pour gasoline in the foyer area and set it aflame while parishioners were inside preparing for mass.
Kennedy also mentions a Virgin Mary statue that was allegedly set on fire at St. Peter Parish in Boston, which was intended to commemorate World War II servicemen.
Damage at this church in Weymouth after police believe someone tried to set it on fire.
The Catholic Action League says this is the 6th Catholic institution in our area to be a target of vandalism or arson.
— Litsa Pappas (@LitsaPappas) August 4, 2020
Minority groups are specifically being targeted, he says, giving the example of a church founded in 1923 by Middle Eastern immigrants, which was spray-painted with “anti-police messages.”
“Many are first-generation Americans who moved to the United States to escape persecution,” he adds.
“Christians have historically been and continue to be one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world.”
Kennedy’s letter comes a week after Republican Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann wrote to Attorney General Barr with similar concerns, calling the multiple attacks a “disturbing trend.”
In Fleischmann’s home state, a Virgin Mary statue was beheaded in Chattanooga in July, around the same time that a statue of Jesus Christ was vandalized in Miami. (RELATED: Republican Congressman Urges Attorney General Barr To Continue Protecting Religious Freedom Amid ‘Disturbing Attacks’ On Catholic Churches)
“There is definitely cause for concern about a rise of hostility towards religion given the apparent rise in vandalism happening in places of worship,” Fleischmann told the Daily Caller in early August.
“These acts of vandalism are happening across the nation, including in Chattanooga, that’s why I sent the letter to the DOJ. We must be vocal in condemning any act of vandalism to any house of worship, they are sacred, it should not be tolerated.”
This is a disturbing attack on Catholicism and religion.
Sadly, it is among a series of attacks on Catholic churches that have happened in recent days.
I hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, but I also pray that they will find their way to God as well. https://t.co/MFPHZhqn3h
— Chuck Fleischmann (@RepChuck) July 15, 2020
President Donald Trump’s campaign condemned the onslaught of violence against houses of worship in an exclusive comment to the Daily Caller News Foundation in July, calling the “rise in violence” an “epidemic across the country led by radical leftists hell-bent on destroying the very moral fabrics of our nation.”
“The Founding Fathers considered freedom of religion so integral to the fabrics of the nation that they codified it in the First Amendment of the Constitution,” Kennedy continues. “We cannot let a handful of people destroy this fundamental right.”