‘No place for God’:Left-wing protesters turn focus to churches as vandalism, arson escalate

Savage Premium Subscription

The Washington Times:

Left-wing protesters turn focus to churches as vandalism, arson escalate


It would be quite a stretch to blame churches for George Floyd’s death, police brutality or Confederate memorials, yet houses of worship and religious statues are coming under attack in the protest mayhem.

Last weekend, at least four Catholic Church-affiliated buildings and statues from Boston to Los Angeles were set on fire or vandalized. A blaze that gutted the 249-year-old San Gabriel Mission, once led by Father Junipero Serra, is being investigated as possible arson.

“Given that there were four attacks on Catholic churches nationwide over a 48 hour period, from July 10 to July 12, suspicion, obviously, turns toward the left wing extremists who have been toppling statues of Saint Junipero Serra and attempting to remove a statue of Saint Louis,” Catholic Action League Executive Director C.J. Doyle said in an email.

The focus on church institutions also has bolstered the contentions of those who say the protests are no longer about Floyd or even defunding police, but rather a radical reordering of American society fundamentally at odds with the U.S. religious liberty tradition.

“These folks have an agenda, which is to fundamentally transform America,” said Ken Blackwell, a board member of the conservative American Civil Rights Union and a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. “If you think about it, Black Lives Matter has an affiliation with the advancement of an ideology and program of action that is closely associated with the Marxist ideology, and it has no place for God.”

The four incidents cited by the Catholic Action League left out one: the beheading of a Virgin Mary statue found Sunday at St. Stephen Parish in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee Republican, called it a “disturbing attack on Catholicism and religion.”

“Sadly, it is among a series of attacks on Catholic churches that have happened in recent days,” Mr. Fleischmann tweeted Wednesday. “I hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, but I also pray that they will find their way to God as well.”

On June 20, Black Lives Matter protesters in Los Angeles tore down and spilled red paint on a statue of the Franciscan friar canonized in 2015. A Father Serra statue was pulled down in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park that same weekend.

St. Louis police on Tuesday arrested a person accused of assault during a June 27 protest over the statue of King Louis IX, or Saint Louis, the city’s namesake and the only king of France to be canonized by the Catholic Church.

Protesters accused Father Serra of human rights abuses against American Indians in 18th-century California and St. Louis of anti-Semitism for presiding over public burnings of the Talmud and the expulsion of Jewish subjects. The Vatican has said Father Serra tried to protect local tribes from Spanish authorities.

“The Serra statue represents mass incarceration,” community activist Jose Garcia told ABC7 in Los Angeles. “It’s important that folks know that mass incarceration as it exists now started with the mission system.”

Church vandals also have targeted protesters. A Black Lives Matter banner in front of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn, New York, was replaced last week after the word “Black” was cut out, according to Syracuse.com.

Attacks ‘dramatically escalating’

No explanation was given for the destruction last weekend, which included fire set to the plastic flowers held by the Virgin Mary at St. Peter’s Church in Dorchester, Massachusetts; the spray-painting of a Virgin Mary statue with the word “idol” at Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary in Queens, New York; and a vehicle crash into the Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Ocala, Florida.

Steven Anthony Shields, 24, was charged with deliberately driving into the front doors, pouring gasoline inside the church and setting it on fire. Marion County sheriff’s deputies said he specifically targeted the Catholic church and that he had schizophrenia, according to the Ocala-News.

The story continues at The Washington Times