Attacks Against U.S. Churches Surge: Report

A report from the Family Research Council found that there have been at least 915 attacks against churches in the United States since 2018.

More than 436 hostile acts occurred against churches between January and November 2023, a number more than double the hostilities against churches in 2020 and eight times greater than in 2018.

The hostile actions covered in the report included vandalism, arson, bomb threats, gun-related instances, and other deeds.

“Our findings suggest that the rise in hostility we identified in our December 2022 report has neither slowed nor plateaued; rather, it has accelerated,” the report said. “This could be due in part to increased public reporting on crimes against churches, resulting in more available data than in the past.”

California churches saw the greatest number of hostilities in 2023, with 33. Texas had 28 incidents of hostile action, followed by Tennessee (26), Ohio (24), and Florida (23). Both New York and Carolina had 22 hostile events. Hawaii and Wyoming had zero hostile actions taken against churches throughout 2023.

Vandalism was the number 1 hostile action taken against churches in 2023, with 315 instances. Arson was the next-greatest threat, with 75 recorded events. Churches across the United States also had 20 bomb threats that year.

“Many of the acts of vandalism represented unexplained acts of destruction, such as rocks being thrown through a window,” according to the report. “In January, vandals broke into Holy Nation Church of Memphis, Tennessee, smashed stained glass windows, and stole equipment the church uses to broadcast its services online.”

“At least 12 incidents included satanic imagery or symbols,” the report added. Vandals broke into a Texas church and left satanic imagery, including “666,” and upside-down crosses. In Louisiana, a vandal spray-painted, “Devil Has Risen.”

In Europe, hostility against Christians increased by 44% between 2022-2023.

“In 2022, OIDAC Europe documented 748 anti-Christian hate crimes in 30 different countries, ranging from arson attacks, graffiti, desecrations, and thefts to physical attacks, insults, and threats,” the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe (OIDAC Europe) said in its annual report, adding, “Between 2021 and 2022, there has been an increase in anti-Christian hate crimes from 519 to 748, including arson attacks, which rose from 60 to 105. OIDAC has identified an increasing trend in hate crimes perpetrated by radicalised members of ideological, political or religious groups that follow an anti-Christian narrative.”

The organization documented 38 cases of physical assault against Christians in Europe as well as three instances where a Christian was murdered during an attack.