On March 27, 2023, three children and three adults were killed in a shooting at The Covenant School, a private Christian school and a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. The assailant shot through glass side doors to access areas throughout the building, including the church office and the children’s ministry. Covenant released a statement that said, “Our community is heartbroken. We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of the terror that shattered our school and church.”
Research conducted by Family Research Council (FRC) indicates that 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.
Acts of Hostility Continue to Be on the Rise
In December 2022, FRC released an extensive publication documenting a sharp rise in acts of hostility against churches in the United States. Analyzing publicly available data from the past five years, FRC found a total of 420 documented acts of hostility that occurred between January 2018 and September 2022. The types of acts identified include vandalism, arson, gun-related incidents, bomb threats, and more. There also appeared to be an increase in frequency over the course of the reporting period. FRC’s report identified 137 acts of hostility against churches between January and September 2022. By comparison, there were 96 incidents in all 12 months of 2021. FRC also identified 54 incidents against churches in 2020, 83 in 2019, and 50 in 2018.
Since the launch of that report, FRC has continued to track acts of hostility against churches. The fourth quarter of 2022 saw an additional 54 incidents, for a total of 191 in 2022. That number is nearly double the previous year’s total of 96. In the first quarter of 2023, 69 incidents have already occurred. If this rate continues, 2023 will have the highest number of incidents of the six years FRC has tracked, continuing the upward trend. Most of the 2023 incidents occurred in January (43); 14 occurred in February, and 12 occurred in March.
Arielle Del Turco, M.A | “Hostility Against Churches: Supplemental Report” | April, 2023
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