Places of worship face vandalism amid hate crimes

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Places of worship – across a variety of denominations, including Jewish synagogues to Buddhist temples and Catholic churches – suffer high amounts of vandalism, arson and other property damage.

The big picture: 2021 is set to be a banner year for hate crimes in the United States, and many of these attacks are linked to religious bigotry.

In numbers : The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said last week that it has now recorded 100 acts of hate against Catholic sites in the United States since May 2020.

  • Earlier this summer, Canada saw more than a dozen arson attacks on churches, following the discovery of mass graves near Catholic residential schools that had housed Indigenous children.

Politics and News around the world are the source of hate incidents.

  • New York City saw almost as many anti-Semitic hate crimes in a three-week period in May as it did in the entire first quarter of the year, said Brian Levin, who heads the Center for the Study of Hate and California State University Extremism.
  • This spike in violence coincided with heightened tensions between Israel and Palestine.
  • Previously, historically African-American churches had suffered property damage in retaliation for the Black Lives Matter protests, and a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles had been burnt down over anti-Asian hatred.

It’s not only Property damage: Tuesday marks the third anniversary of one of Pennslyvania’s worst mass shootings, in which a white supremacist terrorist killed 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

  • A mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012 killed six people and injured four others.
  • The Sikh Coalition then created a security toolkit to help places of worship and local communities take advantage of help from local law enforcement.
  • “We have helped over 80 gurdwaras to have a better sense of security,” said Sim J. Singh Attariwala, senior policy and advocacy officer at the Sikh Coalition.

And after: Attariwala said the anti-Asian hate crimes law President Biden signed earlier this year is a start – but the coalition wants “local, state and federal officials to use their convening power to organize forums. communities and create task forces that prevent hate violence. “

  • Attorney Merrick Garland said in congressional testimony Monday that the Justice Department has charged more than 17 people with federal hate crimes and obtained multiple convictions or guilty pleas.
  • He said the DoJ’s civil rights division is also speeding up its review of federal hate crimes.

The bottom line: “The communal institutions that have traditionally united us – universities, branches of government, media, the medical establishment and now religious institutions – are held in low esteem compared to previous decades,” Levin said.

  • “So when there are disputes or questions about authority, and especially when you have these new conspiracy theories appearing like QAnon, there is always a place for someone of faith to be the scapegoat.” We are extremely concerned. ”

Go further: 🎧 Listen to an interview with Brian Levin on “Axios Today”.


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