The report cites 67 cases of destructive vandalism at U.S. churches since May 2020.
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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is bringing attention to the increasing vandalism of churches in America. They cite more than 67 destructive incidents that have occurred since May 2020.
The report includes a list of incidents that took place across 25 states. Arson, the beheading of statues, desecration of graves, and hateful graffiti are among the most commonly reported crimes.
The vast majority of cases were simple acts of vandalism resulting in damage to church property. Some of the reports, however, were disturbingly dangerous.On April 1, 2021, gunshots were fired at the abbey of Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles in rural Missouri.
In July, 2020, a man crashed a car through a Florida church door. He then proceeded to pour gasoline in the foyer and ignite it. In this instance a congregation was present in the nave and preparing for Mass.
This is not the first time the USCCB has addressed this concerning trend. In a statement from July, 2020, Archbishops Wenski and Coakley, of Miami and Oklahoma City respectively, wrote:
“Whether those who committed these acts were troubled individuals crying out for help or agents of hate seeking to intimidate, the attacks are signs of a society in need of healing.
“In those incidents where human actions are clear, the motives still are not. As we strain to understand the destruction of these holy symbols of selfless love and devotion, we pray for any who have caused it, and we remain vigilant against more of it.”
To help stem this tide of anti-Christian vandalism, the USCCB is lobbying in Congress to increase funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). The program provides grants to nonprofits and houses of worship in order to enhance security.
If funding is received it would go towards improving infrastructure, funding for emergency planning and training, and upgrading security systems. The bishops noted that the program was very popular, but lack of funds led to some churches being turned away in 2019. They are asking Congress to quadruple the current funding of the NSGP, to $360 million.
“Each of our communities believes that respect for human dignity requires respect for religious liberty. We believe that protecting the ability of all Americans to live out their faith without fear or harm is one of the most important duties of the federal government.”