A congressman urged the Department of Justice to investigate what he called a "disturbing trend" of attacks and vandalism on churches across the nation.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) made the request in a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday after a rash of attacks on Catholic churches in his district.
"Since June, there have been nearly a dozen reported attacks on Catholic churches around the nation. These disturbing attacks range from arson to the beheading of a statue of the Virgin Mary," wrote Fleischmann, who is Catholic.
Today, I sent a letter to AG Barr urging the DOJ to protect religious freedom & combat religious discrimination in… https://t.co/RfHRPBtzg2— Chuck Fleischmann (@Chuck Fleischmann) 1596642681.0
"I find these attacks to be a disturbing trend, happening in multiple areas across the nation, including within my own congressional district," he added.
"In times of uncertainty we naturally turn to religion for comfort and peace, something many Americans are seeking as we combat COVID-19, but these attacks add another level of distress for many across our nation," Fleischmann continued.
"I commend the Department of Justice's commitment," he concluded, "under your leadership, to combating religious discrimination and I look forward to our continued work together to uphold and protect religious freedom in the United States."
Rising hatred against religion
Churches have been targeted for looting and arson across the United States in recent months. Some of the attacks have been a part of the rioting stemming from the protests over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody in late May.
Some of the rioting focused on statues meant to honor saints of the Catholic church. In San Francisco, California, a group of around 100 rioters toppled a statue of Catholic missionary St. Junipero Serra, despite historic evidence that he defended the rights of Native Americans.
In another recent case of vandalism against a church, someone wrote racist threats on the air conditioning unit of the Murph-Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in North Highlands, California.
Here's a news video of a recent case of church vandalism:
Church In North Highlands Vandalizedwww.youtube.com