Tag Archive for: Christian persecution

The Largest Christian University in the U.S. Was Fined $37 Million. Coincidence or Targeted Attack?

A dust storm of political madness is brewing in Phoenix, Arizona as Grand Canyon University faces the continued threats of Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Christians have watched as the Biden administration attacks biblical views left and right, with a particularly vehement disregard of the sanctity of life and marriage. As such, it can’t be too surprising that Cardona, a part of this leftist administration, has “vowed” to shut down America’s largest Christian university.

In late October, GCU was hit with “a $37.7 million fine brought by the federal government over allegations that it lied to students about the cost of its programs,” AP News reported — an accusation GCU President Brian Mueller described as “ridiculous.” Around the same time, Liberty University, America’s second largest Christian university, was also fined $37 million “over alleged underreporting of crimes.” GCU appealed its fine in November even though a hearing is not expected until January 2025. But the question Mueller has is one of integrity. Is this genuine consideration for the well-being of students, or is this a targeted attack against religious institutions?

“It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the two largest Christian universities in the country, this one and Liberty University, are both being fined almost the identical amount at almost the identical time?” the college president speculated in a speech. “Now is there a cause and effect there? I don’t know. But it’s a fact.”

This April, the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing specifically about the administration’s decision to “crack down on GCU and other universities like it.” During the proceedings, Cardona and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), made their disapproval for GCU and similar universities obvious. “[W]e are cracking down not only to shut them down, but to send a message to not prey on students,” Cardona emphasized.

Supporters of GCU agree the fine seems unprecedented and motivated by ideological bias, including American Principles Project Policy Director Jon Schweppe, who said, “The federal government’s education agenda is punishing schools that do not conform to their progressive ideology. It’s time we take a stand against this egregious abuse of power.” Another conservative think tank, the Goldwater Institute (GI), sued the Department of Education for “refusing to turn over” public “documents that explain why” they’re fining GCU. The goal of their lawsuit is to unmask the reason behind the fine.

“With its motto of ‘private, Christian, affordable’ and its track record of graduating students into high-demand and high-paying jobs, GCU is a success story by any metric. And it stands apart from universities across the country that are facing declining enrollment, that are indoctrinating students with radical politics, and that are under attack for failing to defend the First Amendment,” GI wrote. “So then why are the feds targeting GCU, a popular university that seems to be doing everything right? That’s exactly what we’re going to find out.”

While there is still immense uncertainty surrounding this case, GCU president took the time to share with The Washington Stand how his staff, faculty, and students are fairing in these troubling times and how believers everywhere can help. Mueller emphasized that GCU has faced various issues over the years. But despite the government’s action, he wanted people to know that “interestingly enough, “it has had zero impact on anything that we’re doing.”

He continued, “The enrollments are just continuing to grow … [and] the morale is very high in terms of our faculty and staff. The campus is extremely vibrant. I mean, the students absolutely love this place. They’re extremely loyal to it, and so we just keep marching through it.” And while the fine they’re being dealt by the Department of Education is “a problem,” Mueller is just thankful that GCU remains optimistic.

The Christian “mission, not politics, is our motivation and it is our hope,” he told TWS. As a university, Mueller explained how they exist to “pour into” the community around them. He added, “[O]ur reach into the neighborhood and caring for disadvantaged populations has been a way to live out our faith” in a way “that has risen above … political divide.” Ultimately, with support from “both sides of the aisle” in Arizona, he noted, “[A]ll the issues we have are with a very small number of people in Washington D.C.”

“We encourage people to be involved politically and vote,” Mueller said. “… But our faith will stand above the politics always, and our politics will never become our religion.” Because, for “many people in our country today, their politics have become their religion, and that’s when things … go really bad in our society.” He pointed out that GCU is “trying to be an example of a Christian community that can rise above those things and focus on helping people” through service, as Scripture calls believers to do.

Mueller concluded with a request for prayer as they work through these troubling times and for “the hearts of certain people in Washington, D.C. to be softened,” adding that “it’s hard to make progress and resolve differences when people just … don’t want to talk to each other.”

AUTHOR

Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Biden Admin Sent ‘Hate Group’ List of Conservative Orgs to Banks after J6

Last week, it came to light that the Biden administration provided a listing of “hate groups,” which lumped together mainstream conservative organizations alongside avowed neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, to major U.S. banks for the purpose of monitoring financial transactions in the wake of the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol. Experts say the pattern could lead to an increase in banks cancelling the accounts of politically disfavored organizations.

The listing was taken from a report compiled by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and the Global Disinformation Index (GDI), two U.K.-based left-wing activist groups. The report includes a listing of “American Hate Groups,” which is itself based on the classifications of the anti-Christian Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The listing classifies conservative organizations such as Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Association, Eagle Forum, Liberty Counsel, and others alongside avowed Neo-Nazi and other white supremacist groups such as the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

According to an investigation by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) sent the report to “some of the largest financial institutions in the world, including the very financial institutions that are likely responsible for providing financial services to many of the listed ‘hate groups.’”

In January, reports surfaced that FinCEN had urged banks to “comb through the private transactions of their customers” to look for “suspicious charges” of legal activities involving political and religious expression without warrants, including the purchase of religious texts and legal firearms. Experts warn that these actions are part of a pattern of increasing collusion between the federal government and corporate America to commit warrantless surveillance of American citizens.

But experts also fear that the Biden administration’s actions could lead to an increase in outright cancellations of the bank accounts of conservative organizations by major financial institutions, which has already occurred on numerous occasions. As Jeremy Tedesco, a senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, testified before the Weaponization subcommittee last week, “viewpoint-based de-banking is on the rise.”

As reported by National Review, some banks are citing “reputation risk” in order to justify discrimination “against gun manufacturers, distributors, and sellersfossil-fuel producerscontractors for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency; and private prisons and related services.”

In recent years, two Christian nonprofit organizations were targeted by Bank of America (BoA). Indigenous Advance Ministries, which helps impoverished widows and orphans in Uganda, had its long-standing account closed in 2023, with BoA claiming that they no longer serve Indigenous Advance’s “business type” and that the ministry exceeded the “bank’s risk tolerance.” Three years prior, Timothy Two Project International, a ministry that trains indigenous pastors across the globe, received “a nearly identical letter” from BoA and “was repeatedly stonewalled in attempts to gain clarity about the cancellation and how to resolve it.”

Similarly, in 2022 JPMorgan Chase, without explanation, cancelled the account of the National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF), a nonprofit that advocates for religious freedom in the U.S. which is headed by former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback. In order for their account to be reinstated, JPMorgan demanded that NCRF turn over a list of high-level donors, “a list of candidates it intended to support, and its criteria for political support.”

Experts say that the Biden Treasury Department’s actions could lead to more conservative organizations being de-banked.

“That’s what they want,” Chris Gacek, senior fellow for Regulatory Affairs at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand. “It’s really troubling. The Republican attorneys general need to come together on this. They need to really start digging into this de-banking pattern and getting subpoenas out. One of the industries where there’s a lot of state regulation is banking. State AGs would have the ability to get subpoenas and start looking at the records and start seeing what the Feds were forcing them to do. It’s very, very serious.”

AUTHOR

Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: J6 Committee Reportedly Covered Up Key Testimony, Resulted in Trump Being Struck from Ballot

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

FBI Raids Traditional Catholic Family’s Home over Son’s Memes

The Biden administration’s FBI is once again targeting faithful Catholic Americans by raiding a Catholic family’s home. According to a report from American Greatness, the Rufini family were “dragged out of their home at gunpoint, handcuffed and locked in a van” by FBI agents earlier this year.

According to Jeremiah Rufini, his 15-year-old son was targeted for posting allegedly “offensive” memes online and in social media group chats, prompting the FBI’s raid. Rufini also alleges that undercover FBI agents infiltrated “right wing” social media chat groups, befriended his son there, and convinced or “goaded” him to generate content which they could then target.

Rufini explained that his son, an altar boy and volunteer firefighter, stepped up to take care of his 93-year-old great-grandmother. The boy was not “raised with cell phones or unrestricted internet access” but his responsibility taking care of his great-grandmother necessitated cell phone use. “He spent a lot of time alone with nothing to do but wait and think and the cell phone became a welcome distraction,” Rufini explained. He added that his son’s “interests in history and theology led him down a rabbit hole where he was recruited into group chats targeting teenage traditionalist Catholics with extreme political content.” Rufini said he later found that the group chats his son was involved in were “closely monitored, and possibly operated by, FBI agents as part of an effort to investigate Traditional Catholics…”

He further noted, “Ironically, our legal troubles began when he had an attack of conscience and abruptly deleted all of his chat apps. He later told us that he felt using social media was a coping mechanism and it had been affecting his mood and ability to sleep.” The FBI’s investigation against the teenager, which his father categorized as “very disproportionate,” reportedly yielded a misdemeanor conviction for breach of peace, but cost the Rufini family over $20,000 in legal fees spent combating the U.S. Justice Department.

Arielle Del Turco, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, commented to The Washington Stand, “From the way the Rufini family describes it, the FBI targeted their son on social media and undercover agents might have encouraged him to commit some sort of offense for which they could arrest him.” She explained, “This is unspeakably cruel to a minor, and it creates problems that were not naturally there. Federal authorities should never foment illicit activity just to confirm their own bias against Christians.” Del Turco added, “This is yet another example of the FBI’s bizarre series of attempts to catch traditional Catholics in some kind of wrongdoing.”

This follows a series of instances in which FBI agents and the Biden Justice Department have aggressively targeted conservative Catholic individuals or communities for harassment or investigation over the past two years. In September of 2022, for example, around two dozen heavily-armed FBI agents equipped with riot gear raided the home of Catholic pro-life advocate and father of seven Mark Houck, handcuffing him in front of his wife and children. Houck was accused of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act by physically assaulting a Planned Parenthood employee. At trial, Houck’s defense team demonstrated that the Planned Parenthood employee had actually violated the abortion business’s policies, left his post, and crossed the street to where Houck and his son were peacefully praying. After the Planned Parenthood employee began following the two and verbally harassing Houck’s son, Houck shoved the man. Houck was acquitted earlier this year.

In February 2023, a memo was leaked from the FBI’s field office in Richmond, Virginia, detailing plans for infiltrating and spying on Catholic parishes which celebrate the Tridentine Mass, sometimes called the Traditional Latin Mass. The memo labeled Tridentine Mass-goers potential “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” and relied heavily on information from the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC classifies “radical traditional Catholics” as a hate group and places them on par with neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Despite initial claims that the memo was the misguided product of only one FBI field office, later documents and testimony revealed that multiple FBI field offices had contributed to the creation of the memo, including FBI field offices on the West Coast which had already infiltrated and spied on traditional Catholic communities.

When asked, months later, if he considered “traditional” American Catholics to be extremists, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland responded in a Congressional hearing, “I have no idea what ‘traditional’ means here.” After being pressed repeatedly to clarify his position on traditional Catholics and repeatedly refusing to answer directly, Garland finally admitted, “Catholics are not extremists, no.” When asked if anyone in the FBI or Justice Department had been disciplined over the creation of the memo, Garland replied, “I don’t know.”

Additionally, the FBI and Justice Department have done little to investigate or prosecute hundreds of attacks against Catholic churches in the U.S. According to a report by advocacy group CatholicVote, nearly 400 Catholic churches have been attacked over the past three years, including 99 in 2023 alone. The attacks have ranged from vandalism and spray-painting to destruction of property and desecration of Catholic statues to firebombing and attempted arson. Attacks have taken place in 42 states and Washington, D.C. A fresh spate of attacks took place in Ohio in late September and early November, ahead of the referendum vote on Issue 1, which enshrined a “right” to abortion in the Buckeye State’s constitution. According to CatholicVote, arrests have been made in less than 25% of attacks on Catholic churches.

Del Turco commented, “The FBI’s resources could be more effectively allocated if they would stop pursing imaginary terrorist threats among Catholics. One would think there is enough crime in America to keep the FBI busy.” She added, “When the FBI’s hyper-fixation on Catholics is inexplicable in the natural, that may just mean it’s spiritual. Spiritual warfare is real, and it affects human events.”

AUTHOR

S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Biden Regulation Could Deny Christians, Conservatives Government Employment: Critics

The Biden administration has proposed new federal guidelines that would politicize the civil service and potentially bar Christians and others who hold disfavored opinions from government employment. Critics say the president’s proposal essentially states, “Conservatives need not apply.”

Current federal law deems an applicant “unsuitable” for federal employment if the applicant engages in “[k]nowing and willful engagement in acts or activities designed to overthrow the U.S. [g]overnment by force.” (Emphasis added.) But the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) proposal would strike the words “by force with a collection of provisions that are broad, ill-defined, and over-inclusive,” said a comment offered by Family Research Council. “We urge the OPM to withdraw the proposed rule changes.”

Removing the words “by force” renders the rule “dangerously vague. Such lack of clarity would give the government great leeway in keeping people out of federal employment that it did not like,” Chris Gacek, coalitions senior research fellow at FRC who guided the group’s comment, told The Washington Stand. “The provisions repeatedly ran afoul of First Amendment norms — and would imperil the rights of clergy and religious believers.”

The Biden administration admits its new, legally binding employment policy includes “more nuanced factors,” but only punishes “conduct that is not protected by the First Amendment.” Still, FRC objects that the code contains “vague and broad provisions that could target disfavored groups with unpopular beliefs — including groups of religious believers whose beliefs not infrequently challenge societal norms and loyalties.”

For instance, one part of the revised policy would ban acts of “force, violence, intimidation, or coercion with the purpose of denying others the free exercise of their rights under the U.S. constitution or any state constitution.” The Biden administration has repeatedly stated the U.S. Constitution contains a right to an abortion, in contravention of a current Supreme Court ruling.

Further, “the idea that mere speech can be deemed ‘violence’ has gained some acceptance in much of America,” FRC’s comment states. “Such thinking, if absorbed into OPM legal practice, could transform pure speech into ‘violence,’ ‘intimidation,’ and ‘coercion.’” Yet the underlying action, of engaging in free speech, “does not seem far removed from teaching, instructing, or preaching doctrine — a common practice in churches, seminaries, and schools.”

It would also deny government employment to any applicant who belongs to a group with “unlawful aims,” a term FRC found broad enough to include those who sheltered runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. FRC asked Biden officials if a pastor who allows an illegal immigrant to take sanctuary inside his church, or who holds services in defiance of a pandemic order, could be denied government employment.

“There needs to be a precise definition of violence in the rule to preclude such unconstitutional, post-modern interpretations of the law,” FRC continued. Since the regulation’s current wording does not require criminal conviction, “how does the OPM plan to decide whether state constitutional provisions have been violated?

The request for clarity comes as Democrats classify an ever-widening panoply of actions as acts of “insurrection,” a term legally condemned by the U.S. Constitution. These actions include refusing to automatically mail ballots to inactive voters, automatically registering everyone with a driver’s license to vote — even voting to remove then-Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her House leadership position. Using broad definitions of such terminology in the national or state constitutions, Democratic officials have sued to keep Republican candidates — including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) and Rep. David Eastman (R-Alaska) — off the ballot. Both Democrats’ disenfranchising lawsuits proved unsuccessful.

Yet under Biden’s proposed federal employment guidelines, applicants would never see their day in court. Instead, the language “would allow hiring managers to reject candidates solely on the grounds of being lawfully critical of government policy,” said a statement spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation and signed by 41 people representing 35 organizations, including Quena González of Family Research Council. “[T]he terms used in the proposed change, ‘intimidate’ and ‘coerce,’ have become synonymous — wrongly so — in the eyes of some, with vigorous, active speech that seeks to change opinions and federal and state laws.” As a result, “opinions on abortion, the Second Amendment, or climate change, or membership in an association that actively works to change the law on such issues, whatever side of the political aisle they are, could be used by a hiring manager to unfairly reject an otherwise well-qualified, excellent employee.”

The statement — which calls the OPM regulation “unwarranted and dangerous” — has been signed by former Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, Reagan administration OPM Director Donald J. Devine, former HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell, Sandy Rios of the American Family Association, Claremont Institute President Ryan P. Williams, Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance, Jon Schweppe of the American Principles Project, and Jordan Sekulow of ACLJ Action, among others.

The rule accelerates what critics call Biden’s pattern of politicizing the federal bureaucracy. The White House demanded members of the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) quit and, when they refused, launched investigations into recalcitrant conservatives. “It’s very clear what’s happening — it’s forcing people out who are not political actors,” a former CFPB employee told the Government Executive website. “This is being done in a pretty underhanded way and, frankly, they are getting away with it.”

Such efforts stretch back to Biden’s very first day in office, when the president demanded National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Peter Robb resign or be fired. Robb’s tenure did not end for months, and a previous administration’s appointees have typically served out their full terms alongside new members. Yet in a violation of norms, Biden proceeded to fire both Robb and his assistant, Alice Stock, placing the agency under the leadership of former union lawyer Jennifer Abruzzo. He then fired the general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Sharon Gustafson, after she refused to resign, as well as Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul and religious liberty/civil rights official Roger Severino.

Biden went on to clear-cut numerous members of the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, the National Capital Planning Commission, and to terminate all 10 members of the Federal Services Impasse Panel (which also deals with labor unions’ concerns).

The White House then set its sights on the military, targeting 18 Trump appointees to military advisory boards such as the Air Force Academy, West Point, and the Naval Academy. Biden also fired members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and the Administrative Conference of the United States.

Fantasies of depriving one’s political enemies of the ability to earn a living, in the public or private sector, have increasingly consumed the Left. In 2020, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed the work of the Trump Accountability Project to blacklist “Trump sycophants” from gainful employment.

“In the Biden regime, the new rule could more simply be written as ‘conservatives need not apply,’” said Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts.

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

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

RELATED ARTICLE: FBI Undercover Agent Developed Plan To Spy On Catholics: Jordan

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Not Just Nashville: Attacks Against Churches Nearly Tripled in 2023, Report Finds

Last week’s mass murder of six people at a church-run Christian school constitutes 2023’s deadliest act of violence against churches, which have increased nearly three times this year compared to last year, a new report from Family Research Council finds. The number of anti-church attacks in 2022 had already tripled over four years, a previous report found.

In all, assailants attacked churches 69 times in the first three months of 2023, compared with 24 such acts during the same period last year, a 288% increase. The rising tempo of anti-Christian assaults — which includes arsons, bomb threats, vandalism, and sacrilege — has affected places of worship in 29 states. The motives behind such desecration run the gamut from pro-abortion activism or controversies over transgender ideology to apparently senseless acts of destruction.

“American churches are increasingly bearing the brunt of anger and aggression, whether that’s from political or other motivations,” the report’s author — Arielle Del Turco, assistant director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council — told The Washington Stand. “This contributes to an environment of hostility toward Christianity.”

The acts of anti-church aggression documented between January and March of this year includes:

  • 53 incidents of vandalism;
  • 10 suspicious fires;
  • Three gun-related incidents; and
  • Three bomb threats — including a pipe bomb recovered outside Philadelphia’s 127-year-old St. Dominic Catholic Church.

“If this rate continues, 2023 will have the highest number of incidents of the six years FRC has tracked,” the report notes. The number of church attacks in 2023 already exceeds “the entirety of 2018, in which we identified only 50 incidents, or 2020, in which we identified 54.”

The month of January 2023 had more church attacks than any single month in the five years FRC has kept records, with 43 such events, according to data furnished to TWS. “This steep increase is a cause for concern,” says the update.

Hostility toward Christian views of hot-button political issues have exploded into violence and vandalism numerous times this year. In January, abortion activists spray painted the words “Women’s Body, Women’s Choice” over a pro-life banner hanging outside St. Stephen Catholic Church in Riverview, Florida.

Last month, transgender activists lashed out at Kentucky legislators who voted against their agenda by defacing an historic church. Vandals spray painted the words “TRANS PWR” on St. Joseph Catholic Church in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 3 — “the day after the Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill that would protect children from harmful gender-transition procedures,” the report states. Undeterred state legislators enacted the child safety protections over Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s veto later that month.

Individuals who identify as transgender have focused their rage on Christian facilities as well. In addition to 28-year-old Audrey Hale’s attack on The Covenant School in Nashville, a 27-year-old man who identifies as a woman set the 117-year-old Portland Korean Church building ablaze on January 3. The suspect, whose legal name is Cameron Storer, claimed to hear voices that “threatened to ‘mutilate’ Storer if Storer refused to burn the church down,” the new FRC report states.

Nashville police have yet to release Hale’s “manifesto,” purportedly due to an “ongoing investigation,” but officers have said Hale’s views of the transgender issue may have touched off her violent rampage. Storer apparently suffers from mental illness, which afflicts those who identify as LGBTQ at far higher rates than average, according to the Biden administration.

Sometimes, the same perpetrator strikes multiple times. Police say 40-year-old Peter Sirolli vandalized three Roman Catholic churches in New Jersey on the same morning, including burning a 10-foot-tall cross on the lawn of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Woodbury on January 13.

The new FRC update builds on an 84-page report released last December. In the original study, FRC verified 420 acts of hostility against houses of worship between January 2018 and September 2022. The new addition brings the full number of anti-Christian incidents in 2022 up to date. In the original report, FRC calculated 137 intentionally damaging incidents against churches had taken place through last September. The last three months of 2022 brought an additional 54 such acts, bringing the total number of assaults against churches to 191 in 2022.

In all, researchers documented a total of 543 attacks on 517 separate churches between January 2018 and March 2023. Of the 517 separate churches attacked, 26 of the churches were victimized more than once, with three being targeted three times each, according to data furnished to The Washington Stand.

Between 2018 and 2023, American churches have suffered:

  • 442 acts of vandalism;
  • 71 cases of arson;
  • 15 gun-related incidents;
  • 14 bomb threats; and
  • 25 miscellaneous acts of aggression against church facilities

A total of 25 incidents fell into multiple categories, according to FRC researchers.

The worst period of sustained assaults during those 39 months broke out last summer over the unprecedented, and heretofore unsolved, leak of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling last May. After the media reported the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade and return the issue of abortion to democratic control, pro-abortion activists committed 86 attacks against Christian churches last May (24), June (28), and July (34).

Churches also sustained damage from the “Black Lives Matter” riots, which broke out in the summer of 2020 over the killing of George Floyd. BLM rioters committed 11 acts of church desecration, researchers told TWS.

Despite the quickening pulse of anti-Christian crimes, some of which have been investigated as “hate crimes,” conservatives say the Biden administration has been too lax in its response. In January, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 3, which noted that abortion extremists such as Jane’s Revenge had “defaced, vandalized, and caused destruction to over 100 pro-life facilities, groups, and churches” in 2022, yet “the Biden Administration has failed to take action to respond to the radical attacks on pro-life facilities, groups, and churches, or to protect the rights of these organizations.”

The Democrat-controlled Senate has taken no action on the bill.

“American leaders and citizens alike should condemn acts of hostility against churches and affirm the right for all people to attend their houses of worship without feeling targeted or threatened,” Del Turco told TWS.

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

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

RELATED ARTICLE: Loudoun County Bans Teacher from Adding Bible Verse in Email Signature

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

American Pride Burning

They called it a “night of rage.” But outside the charred walls of Buffalo’s CompassCare, pro-lifers could barely get the national media to call it anything. Like the string of domestic firebombings across WisconsinOregonColoradoTennessee, and Washington, the blown out windows, graffiti, and trashed offices were barely a blip on network news. It’s been quite a contrast to the extensive coverage a single burned flag in New York is getting. But then, that’s the power of the Pride.

The incident that’s grabbing headlines happened in the wee hours of Monday morning. According to security footage, a woman parked her SUV, walked over to a rainbow flag hanging outside SoHo’s Little Prince restaurant, pulled out a lighter, and set the flag on fire. An employee working late inside saw the flames and called 911. Although the residents on higher floors had to be evacuated, no one was injured. There were, however, cracked windows and “external damage,” especially to the outside landscaping.

“It’s disgusting,” restaurant owner Cobi Levy said. His staff, he told the press, is shaken and scared. “These kinds of acts are desperate acts committed by people who are consumed with hate and filled with hate,” thundered Eric Bottcher, a local councilmember. The New York Times and other major newspapers descended on the scene, interviewing sympathetic neighbors and calling for the suspect to face the harshest penalties.

Within 24 hours, an investigation had been launched by NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force and a replacement flag — larger than the one that proclaimed “Make America Gay Again” — had already been hung.

The all-hands-on-deck response was quite a contradiction to what more than 100 churches and pro-life groups have experienced over the last seven months from the FBI, which waited six of those months just to list the attackers on its Most Wanted website. Not a single arrest has been made in CompassCare’s case. In fact, the federal government has been so indifferent to the crimes that several pro-life groups have resorted to launching their own private investigation.

Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, Bottcher celebrated the LGBT movement’s resilience. “Our resolve is only strengthened when acts like this happen,” Bottcher told the community at a special ceremony to replace the colors on Tuesday. “We are standing up in the face of this hate and reasserting our pride in ourselves and our community. That’s why we hung the flag again.” Little Prince posted a photo of the new flag with one word: “Defiant.”

I want to be clear right off the bat: While there’s an obvious discrepancy in how the two sides have been treated by the media and law enforcement, no one is defending this woman’s actions. Respect for other people’s property — whether it’s a ministry or a drag bar — ought to be a reasonable expectation of every American. There’s no excuse for lawlessness in any form or against any person. That said, the hysteria over what happened in SoHo is a powerful illustration of where we are as a nation, and ignoring it only primes the pump for more hypocrisy.

There are plenty of double standards at play here, not the least of which is the excessive significance the legacy media assigns to victims of their pet political causes, while more than 100 pro-life ministries, churches, and pregnancy care centers sit smoldering in the ashes of a similar hatred, virtually ignored. Imagine if this woman had set fire to an America flag. Would the press race to the scene and mourn the lack of national pride across their platforms? Of course not, because in this age of identity politics, we’ve gotten to the point where setting fire to a rainbow flag is a “hate crime” and burning Old Glory is self-expression.

Frankly, the fact that a single act of arson can make national news is astonishing in an age when mobs can burn down entire cities with the ruling class’s blessing. During the George Floyd riots of 2020, torching federal buildings, courts, city property, and private businesses wasn’t violence, the Left said. It was “justice” — the kind that major Democratic figures publicly embraced.

It wasn’t even two years ago that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), told the masses that if there wasn’t a guilty verdict in the Floyd murder case, then “… we got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice.” Party leaders, like then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), defended Waters’s call to arms, saying she should not have to apologize for inciting violence. Rep. Alyssa Pressley (Mass.) flat-out called for “unrest,” while liberal city leaders from Portland to Chicago linked arms with anarchists, even going so far as to sue federal officials who tried to restore law and order.

The soon-to-be vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris, also endorsed the mobs, telling Stephen Colbert, “They’re not going to stop. … This is a movement. … And everyone, beware. …They’re not going to let up. And they should not, and we should not.”

Protestors, emboldened by Democrats, went on an anti-American rampage, toppling statues, defacing monuments, spraypainted historic buildings, and destroying private property, racking up more than $1 billion dollars in damage across the country — the most expensive riot spree in U.S. history. And yet this, the burning of a single LGBT flag, is “war in America.”

The irony is hard to miss. At a time when liberal ideologues argue against prosecuting anyone for anything, a woman destroying a rainbow flag faces double the punishment under New York’s hate crimes statute, which not only penalizes crimes but motives too. But what about the motives of the arsons in Buffalo? Where was the demand for “hate crimes” in cities where “ABORT THE CHURCH” and “DEATH TO CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM” were spraypainted across houses of worship?

If you’re starting to believe double standards are America’s only standards, you’re not alone. When burning our flag is “protected speech,” and a banner of sexual fanaticism is untouchable, we’ve passed the point of absurdity as a nation. And yet, these are the lessons our children have been taught: you can kneel for the national anthem but not refuse to wear a rainbow.

Now the bitter fruits of that indoctrination are everywhere. Today, more of Generation Z identifies as LGBT (20%) than feels proud to call America home (16%). Is it any wonder that society treats the Pride flag with a reverence it used to reserve for the country that gave activists the right to fly it in the first place?

In 1989, when the Supreme Court struck down the criminal penalties for burning a U.S. flag, Justice John Paul Stevens lamented in his dissent, “[The American flag] is more than a proud symbol of the courage, the determination, and the gifts of nature that transformed 13 fledgling Colonies into a world power. It is a symbol of freedom, of equal opportunity, of religious tolerance, and of goodwill for other peoples who share our aspirations.” It does not “represent the views of any particular party, and it does not represent any political philosophy,” Chief Justice William Rehnquist insisted. “The flag is not simply another idea or point of view competing for recognition in the marketplace of ideas.” The value of its unifying power, the four dissenting justices argued, cannot be measured.

Thirty-four years later, that unity is being tested as never before. We’ve become a people determined to wave our own flags, so comfortable in our factions that we’re trampling our country’s ideals — the same ideals that laid the foundations of self-expression the Left worships today. But if America has any hope of healing these deep divides, of ending these uncivil wars, the solution is returning — not to what divides us, but to what connects us. A national identity found, not in a spectrum of colors, but in three: red, white, and blue.

AUTHOR

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of Family Research Council and executive editor of The Washington Stand.

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The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Chinese Communists ‘Hope to Erase’ Christianity: Report

Last August 25, several faithful gathered around one of the largest churches in China’s Shanxi province to watch it dissolve into dust. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities had planted explosives inside Beihan Catholic Church, bringing its 131-foot-tall bell tower crashing to the ground. In a bout of déjà vu, the 10-year-old church had been built on the site of another church, which the CCP demolished in 1990.

Many Chinese religious systems believe in reincarnation — but in Communist-controlled China, a cycle of destruction repeats itself for Christians, according to a comprehensive, 63-page report from ChinaAid.

The Chinese Communist Party has continued to destroy churches, arrest and abuse Christians, forcibly “disappear” clergy, prevent believers from expressing their faith online, and attempt to coerce Christians into proclaiming Marxist principles from the pulpit in place of the Holy Bible. The report’s “partial list of persecution cases in 2022,” broken down by province, takes up 20 pages.

“The CCP implemented various strategies against Christians in 2022. By using the new measures against religious content online and the infamous zero-COVID policy, authorities limited or eliminated Christian gatherings,” recounted ChinaAid President Bob Fu. “By using charges of ‘fraud,’ the Chinese government financially suffocated the house church movement.”

The report details the forcible disappearance of 10 clergy from Hebei prince’s Xuanhua diocese — including two Roman Catholic bishops — and another 10 priests in the province’s Baoding diocese. Those allowed to remain in the country may be forced out of their ministry by government interference. Fengwo Township Religion Bureau showed up at a church last January to tell parishioners the bureau deemed their pastor, Huang Yizi, unfit to preach sermons, because of his arrest record — for refusing government orders to remove public crosses.

The government has told Christians not to evangelize, preach, print, proselytize, or in some cases pray — especially in the name of Jesus. While preventing many registered churches from worshiping in person, allegedly to stop the spread of COVID-19, Jiangsu province also made it a crime “to illegally preach online, give sermons, interpret scriptures, chant,” etc. Police visited churches that persevered. “Village cadres came to me yesterday and asked me not to preach religion on WeChat. Now we are not even allowed to say the word Jesus in our prayers, or ‘trust in the Savior,’” one Chinese citizen told her U.S.-based family.

The government also tried to prohibit Christians from carrying out their scripturally mandated duty to pray for those in authority. “Our church has received orders from government officials. Now when we pray in WeChat groups, we’re not allowed to say, ‘We pray for those in power,’ let alone pray for President Xi Jinping by name or ask God to make him repent. These are all forbidden now. Some of us used to pray for China’s top government leaders, but that’s not allowed anymore,” another believer told a family member who had emigrated. “We don’t know if we can still pray together in WeChat groups after this March.”

To stifle the growth of house churches, the government has treated tithing and other standard Christian economic activities as a form of “fraud.” In July, police arrested Pastor Qin Sifeng and coworker Su Minjun of Beijing Lampstand Church for “illegal business activities” when it printed hymns for the church to sing. Officials have repeatedly postponed their trial, originally scheduled for last November, effectively imprisoning them indefinitely. Others received swift, crushing punishment. Officers arrested a believing couple, Chang Yuchun and Li Chenhui, in December 2021 for printing Christian books; last May, a court sentenced them to seven years in prison and a fine of nearly $37,000 (U.S.).

The report notes the heart of the persecution campaign: the determination to follow through with what the CCP called the “Sinicization of Religion” at the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th national Congress last October 16. The party demands churches teach Communist principles and revise religious dogma in light of socialism.

“Their goal is not only to curate a ‘socialist-friendly’ church; they hope to erase it,” said Fu. “Previously, they asked for sole allegiance to the Communist Party, but since the 20th National Party Congress, they shifted their emphasis to aligning with Xi Jinping.”

To this end, government officials insist the church cede the education of children to the secular, socialist state. Last May, CCP officials reminded college graduates and students of their official policy: “No one may use religion to carry out activities that obstruct the national education system.” They have effected this policy by shutting down church-operated schools, including the Wenzhou Bowen Bible School and Wenzhou Bible School in Zhejiang province last August, or fining those who hold religious education conferences nearly $21,000 (U.S.). Fined people who rented out facilities to a church school and illegally held a human rights lawyer who represented Christians under house arrest.

These measures likely violate the wording of the Chinese constitution, which states Chinese citizens “enjoy freedom of religious belief” and the right to attend “normal” services — but the document, written by Communists, does not define normal services.

The problem of religious persecution is as old as Marxism itself. Karl Marx considered religion the opiate of the masses. Yet suppression of Christians appears to have intensified as China has gained economic and military strength over the last two decades. The U.S. State Department has classified the People’s Republic of China as a “Country of Particular Concern” since 1999.

The CCP faces credible and consistent charges of committing “deaths in custody and that the government tortured, physically abused, arrested, disappeared, detained, sentenced to prison, subjected to forced labor and forced indoctrination in CCP ideology, and harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices,” noted the State Department’s most recent report on Chinese religious freedom, published last June.

Despite their oppression, Chinese Christians remain resilient. Last February 20, “Christian activist Zhou Jinxia held up a sign to preach the gospel to Xi Jinping,” knowing it would result in arrest.

China Aid’s new report coincides with an emboldened China that has increasingly begun saber-rattling, provocatively sending spy craft to hover over the U.S. mainland. While the CCP has begun “brazenly pushing the limits, to see how far they can go,” said the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn. “President Biden’s administration has consistently demonstrated weakness, showing a willingness to act against adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party only after the public outcry was so deafening that they could not ignore it,” Rep. Green told The Daily Signal.

This overseas aggression has bled into the CCP’s treatment of Christians, as officials have attempted to reach beyond its own shores to harass or kidnap ethnic Chinese living in the United States. They also sanctioned Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.

“The international community needs to know about these trends and developments” of Beijing’s persecution of Christians “as China continues to rise on the global stage,” said Fu. Unless Western Christians stand up for their brethren, Chinese Christians believe the cycle of destruction will continue.

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

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

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

What Will Persecuted Christians Face in 2023?

The Bible radically challenges the status quo. It speaks truth to power.


During a recent conversation with Margaret, a woman who suffered life-changing injuries after Islamists assaulted a Catholic church in Nigeria last Pentecost Sunday, I couldn’t help but reflect deeply on the words of Christ:

“Whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5)

Indeed, who is it that can forgive their enemies and overcome hatred, violence and abuse of the kind suffered by Margaret but he or she who knows Christ?

In my work for the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) UK, I am frequently asked about how I deal with all the negative stories and the “doom and gloom”. But as St John’s letter reminds us, a strong faith in Christ’s ultimate victory upends this question: rather, how can I deal with all the pessimism and negativity without learning from the example of the modern-day martyrs?

Speaking to Margaret taught me two key lessons: that we in the West need the example of the persecuted Church, and they need us. The more that the opponents of the Church become emboldened in persecuting her, and the less we speak truth to power, the more severe will the persecution be this year. Our silence is a green light to violence.

2022 made this fact clearer than ever. More Christians suffer for their faith in Christ than any other religious group suffers for their faith, according to the Pew Research Center. This is borne out by fresh data from Aid to the Church in Need’s latest report Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2020-22.

The oppression or persecution of Christians increased in 75 percent of the 24 countries ACN surveyed. In Africa, the situation for Christians worsened in all countries reviewed amid a sharp increase in genocidal violence from militant non-state actors, including the jihadist groups Islamic State West Africa Province and Boko Haram. Nigeria is in particular trouble. In the Middle East, continuing migration deepened the crisis threatening the survival of three of the world’s oldest Christian communities located in Iraq, Syria and Palestine.

State authoritarianism has been the critical factor causing worsening oppression against Christians in China, North Korea, Vietnam and Burma (Myanmar). Religious nationalism has caused increasing persecution against Christians in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, among other countries. Fashionable holiday destinations like the Maldives fare poorly when it comes to the treatment of Christians. Football-famous Qatar has also been on our radar.

A key trend we are witnessing in the West which aids and abets the persecution of Christians is civil authorities’ frequent denial of the extent of the problem. This can stem from ignorance of and outright unwillingness to alleviate the suffering of Christians, but also takes the form of dubious arguments that reject explanations of the crisis rooted in anti-Christian hatred, instead preferring economic justifications or cries of “climate change”. But climate change alone cannot explain Christian persecution, as the UK parliamentarian Sir Edward Leigh MP explained in a recent article.

2023 will see these trends escalate, ACN’s research suggests. Our work proactively identifies the trends Christians face early on, rather than being purely reactive. This call to justice is crucial to waking up governments, decision-makers and the Church to the plight of the most vulnerable. We defend the persecuted Church and stand in solidarity with her but, perhaps even more importantly, we provide support and pastoral care so that she can persevere in her mission to preach the Gospel to all nations, whatever the cost.

Speaking to ACN last year after her release from captivity in Mali, west Africa, Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez said: “My God, it is hard to be chained and to receive blows, but I live this moment as you present it to me … And, in spite of everything, I would not want any of [my captors] to be harmed.”

The Franciscan sister was held by Islamist militants for over four years, during which time she was repeatedly physically and psychologically tortured. Sister Gloria made clear that her Christian faith was the source of the animus against her, describing to us how her captors became enraged when she prayed. On one occasion, when a jihadist leader found her praying, he struck her saying: “Let’s see if that God gets you out of here. Sister Gloria continued: “He spoke to me using very strong, ugly words…My soul shuddered at what this person was saying, while the other guards laughed out loud at the insults.”

As Christ says to the persecuted Church and to us: “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

When I read these words, the smiling portrait of a humble and persevering Nigerian woman comes to mind. This year, like so many other Christians, Margaret will continue to suffer and to triumph. This year truth and falsehood will be asserted variably in the courts of power.

Yet, however worldly justice deals with the cause of persecuted Christians, long may their suffering smiles ring out the joy of victory.

AUTHOR

John Pontifex

John Pontifex is Head of Press and Information at Aid to the Church in Need (UK), an international Catholic charity which supports persecuted and other suffering Christians. More by John Pontifex

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EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.