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Providence Baptist Church in Northeast Missouri, was destroyed in an arson fire Jan. 4. Submitted photo.

Attacks on U.S. churches up 800% since 2020

Attacks against U.S. churches are up 800% since 2020 and more than doubled last year, according to the latest Hostility Against Churches report from the Family Research Council. It has revealed an exponential and shocking trend.

In one horrific act, a January 4, 2024 arson fire destroyed Providence Baptist Church and the parsonage, located in Northeast Missouri.

On Feb. 18, an arsonist set fire to several Topeka churches. A 15-year-old male was arrested in the incidents.

Researchers documented 436 acts of hostility against churches from January through November 2023, compared to 195 in 2022. But the increase is even more shocking compared to 2021.  Attacks on churches have been on the rise for years, with 96 in 2021, 55 in 2020, 83 in 2019 and 50 in 2018.

“Although the motivations for many of these incidents remain unknown, the rise in crimes against churches is taking place in a context in which American culture appears increasingly hostile to Christianity,” the report said. “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.

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“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.”

Examples of attacks on churches in 2023 include:

  • Vandals breaking into Greater Tabernacle Worship Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., and causing $15,000 worth of damage.
  • A July 12, 2023  arson fire destroyed Abundant Life Church in Warrenton, Mo.
  • The spray painting pf a monument to unborn children at St. Rosalia Church in Pittsburgh.
  • Looters spray painting “abortion is our human right” on the property at Second Baptist Church in Palermo, Maine.
  • A 2021 fire gutted Harlem Baptist Church in Kansas City.

Arielle Del Turco, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the council and author of the report, said the motivations for many of the acts may be unknown, but the “effect is unmistakable: religious intimidation.”

READ: Topeka’s only Jewish synagogue vandalized

“They send the message that churches are not wanted in the community or respected in general,” he said. “Our culture is demonstrating a growing disdain for Christianity and core Christian beliefs, and acts of hostility against churches could be a physical manifestation of that. Regardless of the motivations of these crimes, everyone should treat churches and all houses of worship with respect and affirm the importance of religious freedom for all Americans.”

The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, passed by Congress and signed into law in 1994, is supposed to protect churches, pro-life pregnancy centers, and abortion clinics. While the Biden Department of Justice is using the law to charge dozens of pro-lifers praying outside of abortion clinics, not a single charge has been brought against an individual who has vandalized or set a church ablaze.

As for the arson fire at Providence Baptist, it remains under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office and Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A $5,000 reward is being offered for information.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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