What the church says about increased vandalism
Increase in attacks ‘has also affected chapels and temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such sites are places of gathering and sacred worship, and should be places of peace and safety’
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The FBI likely will release its 2021 hate crime statistics next month, and we should expect to see a continued increase in vandalism, arson and other kinds of attacks on churches.
Such an attack recently took place two miles from my house. Investigators have determined the July fire at the Orem Utah Temple was a case of arson, according to a news release by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The ATF offered a $5,000 cash reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the criminals who set the fire.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has spoken out against the increasing attacks. A spokesman did so again this week when I reached out to ask for comment on the temple fire. The church had requested the ATF’s involvement in the investigation.
“In recent years there has been an unfortunate worldwide increase of violence, vandalism and desecration of religious sites and buildings, including shootings, arson, graffiti, damage to facilities, and more,” church spokesman Doug Andersen said. “This has also affected chapels and temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such sites are places of gathering and sacred worship, and should be places of peace and safety. We are grateful for the efforts of local and federal law enforcement officials to investigate such instances and prosecute those who engage in those actions.”
Last year, Deseret News religion reporter Kelsey Dallas reported on the FBI’s 2020 hate crime data. She wrote:
“In the 2020 fiscal year, which spanned from October 2019 to September 2020, law enforcement agencies across the country reported 8,263 criminal incidents and 11,129 related offenses that were motivated by bias. The total number of hate crimes in the reporting period was higher than it’s been in two decades.
“Among the 8,052 ‘single-bias incidents’ tracked by the FBI, 13.3% were motivated by faith-related beliefs. Additionally ... over 3% of the recorded hate crimes took place at houses of worship.”
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