If you care about religious liberty, pay attention

If you care about religious liberty, pay attention

If you care about religious liberty, pay attention

The author of the most recent "Hostility Against Churches" annual report expects the situation to only get worse.

While sharing the numbers with former Congressman Jody Hice (R-Georgia), study author Arielle Del Turco of the Family Research Council's (FRC) Center for Religious Liberty said American churches are increasingly under threat of attacks, including arson, vandalism, bomb threats, and more.

"We had 436 acts of hostility just from January through November of 2023, which was the reporting period," she relayed. "That was well over double what it had been the year before."

The churches in some of those cases were total losses, but in general, she says the senseless chaos was meant to sow fear into the congregations.

Del Turco, Arielle (FRC) Del Turco

"We unfortunately saw many incidents where churches were completely destroyed, mainly by arson attacks. But some of the incidents that stick out to me most are actually when a church has just been ransacked," Del Turco said.

She blames the uptick in hostility on a collapse in societal respect for religion and religious institutions.

"We see the mainstream media constantly maligning religion, maligning Christianity in particular," she observes. "It's blamed in academia as being a source of oppression for different minority groups. When you have all of these social forces building up, of course that's going to spill over."

But as alarming and dismaying as the figures may be, Del Turco warned that they could get even worse.

"It's almost an unsustainable rate of growth for these incidents," she said. "This is something that should seriously be of concern to Americans who care about religious freedom."

Over the past six years (2018-2023), FRC has identified 915 acts of hostility against U.S. churches. In 2023, such acts 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.