(NewsNation) — A group tracking attacks against Catholic churches said there has been an increase in incidents since 2020.
Catholic Vote has counted 278 attacks since 2020, tracking incidents that include protests, graffiti, smashed statues and other disruptions.
Father “Rocky” Hoffman said the violence tracks with other increases in politically motivated incidents.
“It really started in the summer of 2020, when we had a lot of violence in our country. And not only were Catholic churches attacked back then, but they started toppling down statues and public squares, Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and all that,” he told NewsNation.
The FBI has warned faith institutions about a heightened risk for attacks. Data from the FBI’s crime statistics showed 135 anti-Catholic incidents for 2020-2021, though not all law enforcement agencies report bias-motivated crime data to the FBI.
Hoffman said the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade motivated people to act against the Catholic church.
“It’s not totally surprising, because Roe versus Wade and abortion has been a big issue for the last 50 years. Americans are passionate about their politics, and sometimes they take it out on innocent victims,” he said.
Catholic Vote’s data shows 37 of the attacks as motivated by pro-abortion rights beliefs, 7 percent of the total incidents.
On a practical level, Hoffman said people can encourage local officials to prosecute acts of violence or vandalism against churches as well as taking security precautions.
“Local churches should increase their security with cameras and locks and all that,” he said.