Washington Examiner

Catholic church attacks increase, no hate crime charges filed.

Attacks on Catholic Churches and Organizations

Recent years have seen a rise in high-profile attacks on Catholic churches and organizations, with advocates frustrated by the lack of consequences for those who target Catholics compared to those who target other religions or minority groups.

Examples of Attacks

  • In San Francisco, five people who desecrated a statue of a saint on Catholic church grounds had their charges downgraded from felonies to misdemeanors.
  • In Washington state, a transgender person who defaced church property and assaulted a church employee was recommended no jail time by the Justice Department.
  • In Washington, D.C., a man who destroyed the statues of three saints at a Catholic school pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor that allowed him to avoid serving his prison sentence.

These attacks started with the destruction of church property during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and have since turned toward attacks motivated by the Supreme Court’s 2022 abortion ruling and the defacement of churches in the name of the transgender rights movement.

Consequences for Perpetrators

Critics argue that suspects caught for such illegal activity often escape the more severe consequences that apply to crimes of hate. Instead, suspects sometimes face only low-level vandalism or theft charges that don’t land them behind bars.

The FBI reported that anti-Catholic hate crimes made up 6.1% of all religion-related hate crimes in 2021, which means the FBI recorded roughly 95 anti-Catholic incidents that year. The bureau said this was a decrease from 2020.

Catholic groups say the attacks started to increase in 2020 and have intensified dramatically in 2022, particularly in the wake of the May 2022 leak that revealed how the Supreme Court was planning to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Advocates Call for Action

Tommy Valentine, director of the Catholic Accountability Project at CatholicVote, said police manage to track down a suspect in only about a quarter of attacks. He believes police departments need resources from the federal government to combat clear instances of hate crimes.

Catholic groups argue that the treatment of perpetrators who target Catholic churches and organizations differs from those who target other religious sites. For example, a Massachusetts man who intentionally set fire to a Catholic church was sentenced to roughly three years in prison, while a man who intentionally set fire to a synagogue in Texas faces up to 20 years in prison for the same crime.

Advocates are calling for more severe consequences for those who target Catholic churches and organizations, arguing that the current lack of consequences is unacceptable.

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