". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Churches Face Increased Threat of Attack: DHS Report

June 1, 2023

The Biden administration has warned that churches and church-related institutions face an increased threat of attack due to the caustic nature of the U.S. political landscape.

The United States as a whole “remains in a heightened threat environment” for “the coming months,” thanks to “perceptions of the 2024 general election cycle and legislative or judicial decisions pertaining to sociopolitical issues,” says a May 24 bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security. Top targets include churches and other houses of worship, schools, and police. The official communication cites the March 27 mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, a private Christian institution affiliated with a Presbyterian congregation, which left six students and faculty dead before police killed the shooter, a 28-year-old woman who identified as a transgender male.

The DHS cites the murder of Christians, as well as acts of racial collectivist terrorism, while asserting that shooters may target “events associated with the LGBTQIA+ community,” “racial and ethnic minorities,” and “government facilities and personnel.”

Before the heightened alert, 2023 was already on track to record the largest number of anti-Christian church attacks of any year expert researchers have tracked to date. The number of U.S. church attacks nearly tripled in the first quarter of 2023 compared to 2022, according to a report from Arielle Del Turco, assistant director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council.

Assailants torched, vandalized, or committed acts of gun- or bomb-related violence against U.S. churches 69 times in the first three months of 2023, including:

  • 53 incidents of vandalism;
  • 10 suspicious fires;
  • Three gun-related incidents; and
  • Three bomb threats — including a pipe bomb recovered outside a Roman Catholic parish in Philadelphia.

The number of church attacks had already tripled over the previous four years. A total of 397 U.S. churches suffered a total of 420 acts of hostility between January 2018 and September 2022, Del Turco found in a separate report. Churches of every denominational background and theology came under attack, often from Satanic-themed assailants.

But churches known for taking a pro-life, pro-family stand find themselves the most likely to end up in assailants’ crosshairs. “In the United States, the majority of the churches that face targeted attacks are Catholic churches,” Del Turco told The Washington Stand. “By and large, the Catholic Church has the reputation of upholding longstanding Christian positions on social issues in defiance of demands to adopt new secular dogma rooted in the Sexual Revolution, including abortion, same-sex marriage, and gender ideology.”

The comprehensive report found two issues sparked the greatest number of politically motivated attacks on U.S. churches: abortion and the “Black Lives Matter” riots in the summer of 2020.

Anti-Christian attacks often include several of the groups on the DHS’s target list. For instance, vandals spray painted a Roman Catholic church in Los Angeles with the words “Kill all cops.” After the still-unsolved Dobbs decision leak, vandals plastered a Catholic parish and school in Armada, Michigan, with messages calling for “the death of Republicans,” Del Turco’s report notes.

“Across the board, the Biden administration has been hostile to religious freedom, and President Biden has demonized his political opponents, contributing to a tense environment that can foster violence against churches. And while President Biden might try to use his Catholic affiliation as cover, he has also invoked Christian themes to push ideologies that contradict the Catholic Church’s teachings,” Del Turco told The Washington Stand.

Despite the spike in church violence, the Biden administration recommended a pro-abortion activist who identifies as transgender receive no jail time for violently attacking St. Louise Catholic Church in Bellevue, Washington, and assaulting a church employee.

The defendant, Maeve Nota, destroyed $30,000 worth of church property, demolished a statue of the Virgin Mary, smashed windows, and sprayed “a lot” of spray paint over the face and into the ear of a church employee.

Nota also scrawled anti-Catholic graffiti onto the church’s exterior, including such phrases as “woman haters,” “we hate gay people,” and “rot in your fake hell.”

Nota, a male who identifies as a woman, said in court filings that the June 28, 2022, attack came from his deep anger over the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

The Biden administration recommended the one-year jail sentence be waived for the pro-abortion, trans-identifying church assailant. Under the terms of a March 14 plea agreement, Nota would serve three years of probation when he is sentenced on Friday.

The agreement sparked outrage among judicial observers. “[T]his deranged trans terrorist badly damaged a Catholic church, fought with the police, assaulted a church employee, and scared the hell out of a little old lady praying,” said Mike Davis, founder of the conservative judicial group the Article III Project.

The light prosecution contrasts with the administration’s focus on enforcing the FACE Act against pro-life advocates, often unsuccessfully.

“While Biden’s Department of Justice is happy to prosecute pro-lifers, it has failed to use statutes to protect houses of worship,” Del Turco told TWS. “The reality is that attacks against churches have been rising sharply since President Biden came into office. It’s time for the administration to get serious about addressing this issue.”

Critics say the deeper issue is one of uneven scales of justice, in which the president’s political foes face maximum prosecution over trifling issues while friends and allies of the Democratic Party face little or no repercussions for manifestly illegal actions. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League said decisions like the Nota church assault hasten “the time when the legitimacy of the Biden administration will collapse, beckoning Americans to take the law into their own hands.”

While “no one should want such an outcome,” Donohue said, “putting up with a two-tiered system of justice — which is no justice at all — is not an option either.”

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.