Churches across America are likely to see record-high levels of violence this year after 69 incidents were reported in the first three months of 2023, according to a new report.
Family Research Council (FRC) released a 2022 report titled, “Hostility Against Churches Is on the Rise in the United States,” which found that from 2018 to 2022, 420 incidents were reported by 397 churches across the country. On Monday, FRC published a supplementary report that found that from January to March churches were attacked 69 times in an “unusually high number of acts of hostility.” (RELATED: Gen Z Traded Church For ‘A New Religion,’ Faith Leaders Say)
“January of 2023 was a particularly intense month for acts of hostility against churches,” the report read. “Although the number of actions dropped in February and March. The first quarter of 2023 overall saw an unusually high number of acts of hostility, with 69 such incidents being documented. Research indicates that number is more than the entirety of 2018, in which we identified only 50 incidents, or 2020, in which we identified 54.”
Many of the incidents appear to be politically motivated after multiple pro-life memorials were vandalized and a church in Kentucky was spray painted with the message “TRANS PWR” after the state legislature banned gender transition medical procedures on minors.
Arielle Del Turco, FRC’s director of the Center for Religious Liberty and the author of the report, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the uptick in violence was due to “several contributing factors,” noting that “secularism” has been “eroding respect for religion.”
“Some of the incidents are linked to political motivations—last year saw dozens of pro-abortion acts of hostility against churches, while the first quarter of 2023 has seen at least three incidents with some tie to the transgender issue,” Del Turco said. “[M]any of the incidents are almost inexplicable acts of rage and anger against churches, indicating there is something else going on here. This is not just a public policy issue, it’s a spiritual issue.”
Churches in 29 different states suffered a variety of attacks including 53 acts of vandalism, ten arson incidents, three attacks where a gun threat was involved, three bomb threats and two assaults, according to the report. The Nashville school shooting at Covenant Presbyterian Church on March 27 by 28-year-old transgender shooter Audrey Hale was also included in the report’s summary of gun-related incidents.
North Carolina suffered the most incidents at seven with Ohio and Tennessee each having five incidents, while Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania each had four.
Del Turco said that these trends are important for churches to be aware of to “take precautions to protect their congregants.”
“Yet, we should never let fear prevent us from attending worship services or expressing our faith or sending our kids to Christian schools,” Del Turco told the DCNF. “The reality is that religious freedom relies on cultural support, and we can build that cultural support simply by practicing our faith in public and not growing timid even in the face of targeted tragedies like the Covenant School shooting.”
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