Despite huge surge in church attacks, don't bother praying for help from Biden admin and DOJ

Despite huge surge in church attacks, don't bother praying for help from Biden admin and DOJ

Despite huge surge in church attacks, don't bother praying for help from Biden admin and DOJ

Attacks against churches in the United States are not only increasing but are doing so at an alarming rate, according to an alarming study released by the Family Research Council.

The study’s open-source reporting, which goes back to 2018, identified 915 acts of hostility against churches in a country founded with religious freedom as one of its main tenets.

The report, which lists every incident, finds that open hostility has doubled within the past year and has increased by 800% since 2018.

Some key takeaways in the report, reviewed by AFN, include: 

  • Over the past six years (2018-2023), FRC has identified 915 acts of hostility against U.S. churches. The types of acts identified included vandalism, arson, gun-related incidents, bomb threats, and more.
  • In 2023, at least 436 acts of hostility against churches occurred in the United States, more than double the number identified in 2022.
  • In 2023, acts of hostility against churches took place in 48 states and the District of Columbia, with more occurring in states with larger populations. California had the most incidents, with 33. Texas had 28 incidents. Hawaii and Wyoming had none.
  • 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.

“What we found in this last year is startling, alarming," Tony Perkins, the FRC president, said on his own Washington Watch program Tuesday. "It's not just that we're seeing an elevated level of hostility towards churches. We're seeing it rapidly accelerate, and you cannot separate this from the policies that we see coming out of our government." 

Biden admin called 'outright hostile' 

Perkins served as chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom during the Trump administration. Citing that work to fight religious persecution, he compares rampant attacks against Christians in Nigeria to the Biden administration turning a blind eye to violence against people of certain faiths.

The U.S., under Trump, designated Nigeria as country of particular concern as the President is required to review annually the status of religious freedom in every country in the world.  The unfavorable designation meant economic sanctions for Nigeria. That got the attention of the government there for a time, but Joe Biden removed Nigeria from the watch list.

“So, our foreign policy is indifferent toward religious freedom, and our domestic policy under this administration is showing hostility toward biblical teaching and biblical views," Perkins told show host Jody Hice. "There’s no other way to look at this other than the policies of this administration have been not only counter to biblical truth when it comes to human sexuality, parental rights, you name it, but it's been outright hostile." 

Last January, a leaked memo revealed that the FBI office in Richmond, Virginia actively sought parishioners and priests to spy on a local conservative Catholic church. The FBI alleged the church, a breakaway congregation, was radicalizing its members to become domestic terrorists.

The source for that memo, the FBI later admitted, was the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center, and left-wing news outlets The Atlantic and Salon, columnist Tim Graham has pointed out. 

The D.C.-based Family Research Council, ironically, was attacked by a gunman in 2012 who used the SPLC's "hate map" to pick out his target. 

Perkins, Tony (FRC - mug shot) Perkins

“They’ve been promoting abortion as we've stood for the sanctity of human life, and they've essentially given a green light to attack those institutions. The church, which stands firm on biblical truth in teaching. There's no other way to look at this,” Perkins said.

Beyond the administration – whose policies do not help the church – there’s a cultural question in play. Perkins says there’s a clear goal to intimidate Christians.

“Of these 436 incidents last year the bulk of them are vandalism followed by arson, bomb threats and even shootings. There were 10 shootings in churches last year, and that's not including the one we just saw recently at Lakewood in Houston. This is a form of domestic cultural terrorism, and it's designed to intimidate and to silence,” said Perkins, who previously served as a contractor with the State Department in the field of anti-terrorism.

Pastor: Churches no longer untouchable 

It's the “reported” incidents that are found in the report. Many others go unreported.

“I documented 18 separate incidences of either vandalism, theft, or other hostilities in the year 2023 alone,” Rob Rotola, the senior pastor of Word of Life Church in Wichita, Kansas, told Hice.

In Wichita, assistance from authorities is hindered by local politics, Rotola said.

“We are short a hundred police officers because the last administration, the mayor, was moving towards the defunding thing, and they replaced some police officers with social workers," the pastor recalled. "So when you call in an incident now, the response time is markedly slower. You end up policing yourself. You don't even report a bunch of things. You just self-handle, and that's what we've had to do.”

Rotola said this uptick in crime occurs in middle class and upper-middle class areas that his churches serve, not in Wichita’s inner city.

He sees increased attacks against churches as rooted in two things, beginning with a lack of respect for churches that is itself concerning. 

“Secondly, there’s the onslaught of media always picturing churches and pastors and ministers and rabbis in almost always a negative light," he warned. "We're both crooks, or we're pedophiles, or we're this and that. This has created this onslaught of ill will because now (it’s felt) there's more of a license.”