This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
The number of attacks on Christian churches exploded during the first quarter of 2023, with 69 documented "acts of hostility," putting the nation on course for potentially the worst record in years.
"This steep increase is a cause for concern," explains a new update, "Hostility Against Churches: Supplemental Report – First Quarter 2023," by the Family Research Council.
The report says "Criminal acts against churches have been steadily on the rise for the past several years, and the first quarter of 2023 has continued the upward trend. The first three months of 2023 saw approximately three times the number of acts of hostility perpetrated against churches in the same timeframe last year."
From January through March, 69 acts of hostility against churches have already occurred, the FRC said, and, "If this rate continues, 2023 will have the highest number of incidents of the six years FRC has tracked."
There were 53 acts of vandalism, 10 arson attacks, arson attempts or fires with unknown causes, three gun-related incidents, three bomb threats and two "other" situations, like assault.
Several situations fell into more than one category.
"Twenty-nine states experienced acts of hostility against churches. North Carolina had the most incidents, with seven. Ohio and Tennessee each had five. Florida, Missouri, and Pennsylvania each had four. No incidents were found in 21 states or the District of Columbia," the report said.
Arielle Del Turco, FRC's director of the Center for Religious Liberty and author of the report, noted, "The problem of acts of hostility against churches in the United States is widespread and growing. Increasing anger and frustration directed at church buildings points to a larger spiritual battle and a growing climate of hostility toward Christianity. The motivations for some of these acts of vandalism, arson, gun-related incidents, bomb threats, or other acts appear political while many more seem completely inexplicable.
"Yet, all of these incidents represent a deeply concerning trend and have the potential to be intimidating. In response, Americans should be united in our affirmation of religious freedom and the ability of all people to worship and live out their faith freely--without fear that their church or religious community will be targeted."
Among the more serious situations were the gun incidents.