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Sunday, May 19, 2024 - 09:15 PM

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

First Published in 1994

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF
UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

Hostility to Churches Fueled by Bidens Anti Faith Climate

“It’s an emotional moment,” Pastor Robin Lutjohann said quietly, surveying the rubble of his church. “It’s been a place of worship for a number of communities for over a century,” he told reporters after a six-alarm fire raged through the building Easter Sunday, destroying the Massachusetts landmark. “It fills me with sadness and dread about the work that is ahead of us,” Lutjohann admitted, wondering why anyone would have such malice toward Faith Lutheran. “If and when a person is found who has done this then we will pray for the power to forgive,” he insisted

Unfortunately, his congregation isn’t alone in that prayer. An astonishing 436 churches in America were victims of criminal attacks in 2023, according to a new report from Family Research Council — more than double the number in 2022. From shattering stained glass and spray-painting relics to lighting five-gallon drums of gasoline on fire and riddling altars with bullet holes, houses of worship have become an increasingly dangerous target. 

“You just feel the hate,” Rev. Jerome Jones shook his head, still shocked at the sight of his trashed Maryland sanctuary. Bibles, ripped into shreds that “looked like snow” on the pews, slashed upholstery, the big wooden cross — where congregants lifted their hands during the offering — torn down and tossed on the $100,000 of damage. From now on, Jones had to tell worshippers, “the cross is in your hearts.”

His Fowler United Methodist Church is just a few miles from the Maryland State House, a fact that didn’t shield Jones from the violence that too many U.S. congregations are experiencing. If anything, experts say, our country’s deepening political divides may be what’s fanning the all-too-real flames. The growing anti-faith rhetoric of the Left, led by the Biden administration’s own bigotry toward Christians, has made it open season on houses of worship. After just 55 acts of hostility in 2020 under Donald Trump, the aggression has skyrocketed from 96 (2021) to 195 (2022) to a staggering 436 acts last year. 

None of this happened in a vacuum. Under the Biden administration, there’s one common denominator between the growing religious persecution abroad and the rapidly increasing hostility toward churches here at home: our government’s policies.

Frankly, Congressman Nathanial Moran (R-Texas) insisted on Tuesday’s “Washington Watch,” the biggest reason for this spike is probably because “this is the behavior that’s being modeled by the federal government.” When we see “the Department of Justice weaponizing its political views against everyday Americans and religious institutions and faith-based organizations, more of [these attacks] are going to happen.” 

Under Joe Biden, men and women at the highest levels of government have not only condoned religious intimidation, they’ve encouraged it — refusing to investigate, hold culprits accountable, or worse, targeting Christians themselves. From the FBI to IRS, the Biden administration has spent the last three years criminalizing Americans with biblical views, only to turn around and complain about threats to democracy. What bigger threat is there than a government weaponized against its own people?

And sadly, this 800% spike in church attacks hasn’t just triggered terror here at home, it’s also had deadly consequences abroad. During my time as chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), I witnessed firsthand that when American leaders turn their backs on religious hostility, it sends a message that the world’s persecuted are on their own.

As my friend and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo understood: “If we got it right here in America, good things would happen all across the world.” If we get it wrong, we’re no longer just hurting ourselves, but millions of innocents who depend on the United States to fight against oppression around the world.

We see evidence of that failure in the freshly dug graves in Nigeria, in the Christians hiding deep within Afghanistan, even in the global calls for Israel’s ceasefire. Biden’s weakness on the international stage has escalated the threat for the world’s religious populations to a degree we’ve not seen in modern history. And the situation grows more dire every day. 

When America ignores the indiscriminate slaughter of 8,222 Nigerian Christians in a single year — even going so far as to remove the nation as a Country of Particular Concern from America’s watch list— it gives permission for other world leaders to look the other way. Worse, it sends a green light to terrorists everywhere to continue their killings, abductions, land-grabs, and torture. But if Joe Biden can’t be bothered to condemn thugs and vandals at home, how could he possibly take on jihadists?

At its core, this is cultural terrorism, and it’s designed to silence us. The spiritual enemy of our soul has a goal to intimidate Christians everywhere into backing away from speaking biblical truth. So here’s what we’ve got to do: not yield.

Obviously, we need to take the appropriate precautions, so our people can come to church free of fear with the sole focus of worshiping the Lord. But then, we do something just as important: vote for men and women who respect and understand our vibrant First Amendment freedom, which is the ability — not only to worship God — but to live your life according to your faith. That means teaching your children. That means carrying your beliefs into the workplace.

So we need to be bold. We need to be courageous and live out our faith for the Lord in such a way as it brings honor and glory to him. Yes, we need to take the practical steps to make sure our churches are safe, but we cannot give in to those who would make us shrink back into the shadows of society. We need to continue to hold forth the banner of the Lord Jesus Christ — without apology.