A church in San Diego that was set to host a New Year’s Eve worship celebration led by Sean Feucht was vandalized by far-left terrorists early Saturday morning — putting a final exclamation point on a report released by Family Research Council showing that attacks on churches skyrocketed in 2022.
Antifa has taken responsibility for breaking out a window of the century-old City View Church and spray-painting symbols and lewd and threatening messages on the building’s exterior, such as “No Safe Space for Bigots,” “Christofascists not Welcome,” and “Queers Bash Back.”
City View is an evangelistic church that offers worship services in English, Spanish, Swahili, and Ethiopian as part of its outreach to a highly diverse local community.
Feucht, a recording artist and founder of the “Let Us Worship” movement, wrote on his Instagram account that the police are investigating the attack as a hate crime. However, he stated that the attacks wouldn’t succeed at intimidating the Church or his nationwide revivals.
In fact, the San Diego New Year’s Eve event went off as planned to a packed crowd.
“We’re not going to let persecution, bigotry, hatred, vandalism, stop us from worshiping,” Feucht declared, to Charisma News.
He later tweeted, “Antifa thought vandalism, threats & intimidation would deter the church from doing what it’s done for 2000 years. They were dead wrong. The fire & joy last night was only exponentially greater.”
He also told ChurchLeaders.com, “The church isn’t a building. We’re the bride of Christ and in 2023, we’re rising up like never before.”
The FRC report, which was released in mid-December, analyzed data from January 2018 to September 2022 and found a monumental increase in attacks and nightmarish crimes perpetrated against Christian churches over that time, including the murder of worshippers, arson, vandalism, theft, bomb threats, shootings, and intrusive interruptions of services.
In 2018 there were 50 incidences of hostility against churches. In 2019, there were 83. In 2020, the number dropped to 54. In 2021, there were 96. And as of September 2022, there were 137 hostile incidents against churches.
Over the time period, 420 incidents of hostility against 397 churches were recorded. “Criminal acts of vandalism and destruction of church property are likely symptomatic of a collapse in societal reverence and respect for houses of worship and religion—in this case, churches and Christianity. Americans appear increasingly comfortable lashing out against church buildings, pointing to a larger societal problem of marginalizing core Christian beliefs, including those that touch on hot-button political issues related to human dignity and sexuality,” FRC said.
The increase is reflected in the FBI’s recording of hate crimes against Christians. In 2021, there were 240 anti-Christian hate crimes; up from 2020 with 213 crimes, and 217 in 2019. In 2018, there were 172 hate crimes recorded against Christians.
The violent incidents ranged in severity and motivation. FRC found “342 occurrences of vandalism, 58 arson attacks or attempts, 12 gun-related incidents, 11 bomb threats, and 19 other incidences (assault, threats, interruption of worship services, etc.).”
Hostile incidents occurred in 45 states and Washington D.C.
In 2022, seven Christians were shot and killed at churches.
The main reason for the rise in attacks this year was due to pro-abortion terrorism after the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. More than 50 incidents of violence against churches this year were related to pro-abortion ideals.
FRC president Tony Perkins said the attacks on churches are part of America’s turning from biblical morals.
“As a former commissioner and chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), I’ve seen the warning signs of this gathering like clouds across the Atlantic. As the mainstream culture moves further and further away from a biblical worldview, I’ve witnessed the hostility to moral truth creep closer to our shores. The West, once the safe haven of free speech and religion, is turning cold to our religious foundations that have helped us thrive.”
Not a single person has been arrested by the FBI in connection with any of the church attacks in 2022.
It’s sad to think that these kinds of religious attacks are happening in the United States of America, a country that was founded on the right to freely worship God. As Christians, though, we should expect it and even “rejoice” for being “counted worthy to suffer for His name” (Acts 5:41). After all, we were warned by Christ Himself to expect to be hated because of our belief in Him (Matthew 10:22). And we also recognize from Scripture and from history that God can and does use adversity and persecution for His own purposes.
As Sean Feucht wrote, “The enemy is making the age old mistake. Persecuting the Church won’t stop the Gospel, it’ll spark a wildfire.”
He’s right. From the 1st century to the 21st, from Jerusalem to Rome to eastern Europe to Africa to China, Christians have suffered immensely in dark times. And yet in the midst of it, the light of Christ shone even brighter to those around them, changing hearts, saving souls, and reviving and transforming whole countries.
Persecution in America is likely to increase in the coming years as the larger culture continues a near-total rejection of Judeo-Christian morality and embraces its own ever-changing secular rules and rituals. Those who don’t believe in God see Christians as a threat. They see our adherence to biblical truths as restricting their beliefs and activities. And so they attack both Christians and the Church.
Christians in America should not be surprised nor should they diminish their efforts to share the Gospel and show Christ in all that they say and do. God promises that the gates of Hell will never prevail against Christ’s Church, and as Christians stand firm amid the trials and the darkness, God can use their plight to bring even the most anti-Christian zealots into His corner to achieve His larger purposes.
This is seen most clearly in the life of the Apostle Paul, who went from persecuting the Church to enduring his own persecution for the sake of Christ. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12-15 that
“all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
People have long hated the Church and Christians, and that will not stop. Why? Because so many people hate God. The Christian Church, however, must never stop showing the love of Christ to such people, even in the face of increasing levels of hatred and violence. No matter how lost, those who seek to attack the Church can still be saved.
As Troy Singleterry, pastor of City View, said when discussing those who defaced his church:
“I wish I could have ministered the good news of the gospel to them. My heart was for who they are. What they did can be fixed, but it’s an individual that needs to be delivered and set free by the grace of God…As the capital-C church, we’re going forward to possess the harvest God has called us to reach.”
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.