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Recent Increased Violence Against Religious Symbols

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The woke war on religion
A disturbing trend of attacking religious sites reveals a new intolerance
Samuel Gregg

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Images of Jesus splashed with green paint on the doors of the damaged Resurrection Catholic Church after an arson and vandalism attack (Getty)

Though you wouldn’t know it from most American media outlets, the phenomenon of vandalizing and burning religious sites which is accelerating in Europe has, like a virus, jumped an ocean and is now among us.

Over the past month, statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary have been damaged in states as far apart as Colorado, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, and Massachusetts. On July 11, a vehicle was driven into a Catholic church in Florida with the clear intent of burning the building to the ground while congregants were inside.

But it’s not just Catholic symbols and edifices being targeted. America’s Jewish community has received similar treatment. During protests in late-May, for example, anti-Israel slogans were daubed on the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Los Angeles’s Fairfax district. Several kosher stores were also vandalized and smeared with anti-Semitic slurs. That same month, Congregation Beth Ahabah, which has been in Richmond, Virginia, for over 200 years was vandalized during protests.

Catholics.  Jews.  Muslims.

Although we Latter-day Saints have not been recently targeted, we have had a number of incidents involving our properties as well.  See, e.g., here (from July 2019) :

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There has been a string of arson fires at LDS Chapels in Utah. I found news articles about two in St. George, one in Farmington, Ogden, Orem and the latest in Cottonwood Heights. Is this unusual or is there an uptick in arson fires at chapels. 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.deseretnews.com/article/900079592/utah-latter-day-saint-church-fire-cottonwood-heights.amp?espv=1

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.foxnews.com/us/utah-woman-sets-fire-to-2-mormon-churches-writes-satan-lives.amp?espv=1

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.daily-times.com/amp/1734497001?espv=1

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.deseretnews.com/article/900054779/st-george-utah-mormon-church-fires-investigation.amp?espv=1

Anyone have better statistics on LDS arson fires in general?

Also, one chapel in Fort Collins and 2 in New Zealand. 

http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/new-zealand-black-metal-drummer-charged-with-setting-two-mormon-churches-ablaze/

And here (same link) :

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And here (same link) (from me) :

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A while back (I think 7-10 years ago) I kept a running tally of news items about our church buildings being burned or vandalized.  It was rather startling to see how often it happens.

This story was just posted about 15 minutes ago:

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Police investigating racist graffiti at Herriman schools
By Gretel Kauffman, KSL | Posted - Jul 26th, 2019 @ 7:25am

HERRIMAN — Several school buildings in Herriman, including two seminaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, were vandalized with racist graffiti sometime late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, police said.

The graffiti at Herriman High School and Copper Mountain Middle School was discovered Thursday morning, according to a lieutenant with the Herriman Police Department. The lieutenant described the graffiti as racist and "extremely vulgar."

The vandals drew with black spray paint on multiple sites around the campuses, including the tennis court and softball facilities at Herriman High School, portable buildings behind the high school, a seminary building adjacent to the high school, and another church that serves as a seminary building for the middle school.

The graffiti included racial slurs, swastikas, and a pentagram symbol, the lieutenant said. The pentagram was drawn on one of the seminary buildings.

 

And here (same thread as above) :

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See also here (from December 2018) :

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Here:

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Police arrested a man on suspicion of arson after they say he broke into a church and lit a couch inside on fire.

Officers responded to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 630 S. Meldrum St., about 3 p.m. Dec. 4 to a report of a man who stated he planned to burn down the church, according to arrest documents.

The man, identified by police as Jordan McQueen, purchased a sledgehammer and lighter fluid from Ace Hardware in Old Town. He then headed to the church, where he broke through the back door and set fire to a couch inside. 

The fire caused the sprinklers inside the church to turn on, flooding part of the building, according to arrest documents. 

McQueen, 30, was arrested outside the church and taken to Poudre Valley Hospital for a medical evaluation. He was then booked into the Larimer County Jail.

 

I think if all incidents of arson, vandalism, etc. were tallied up, we would be surprised at the frequency and seriousness of the issue.

Back to the first article above:

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This comes against a background of 2019 as a year, according to the Anti-Defamation League, in which more anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in America than any other year over the past four decades. These included violent attacks on a rabbi’s New York home, a California synagogue, and a Jewish grocery store in New Jersey.

It's very distressing to hear about this happening to our Jewish brothers and sisters.

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The real question is: what is driving these latest attacks on religious symbols and edifices?

In many cases, the answer isn’t immediately obvious. As in Europe, the perpetrators’ motivations are often difficult to identify. In France, some have turned out to be anarchists, Islamists and radical feminists. Others are troubled adolescents, in a few instances, it has been drug-addicts not in control of their faculties.

One factor enabling what we are observing in Europe and America is a general breakdown in public order. This played a role in the uptick of attacks on religious buildings in France during the gilets jaunes protests in 2018 and 2019. When the police are fully occupied elsewhere — or think that their efforts to uphold public order are unsupported by elected officials — those intent on causing trouble know they have more scope to act without being caught, let alone punished. The protests and riots that have been sweeping much of America since June, combined with very public attacks on the police by the radical left, as well as the limp responses from left-leaning mayors and governors, have made it easier for those who want to engage in attacks on specific faiths to do so.

I think this is a fair observation.  I think we have seen a more casual willingness by more people to resort to violence, intimidation, bullying, threats, etc. as a form of protest, as a means of affecting political change, as a means of silencing divergent viewpoints, and so on.

The author of the article goes on:

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Many American attacks are, however, driven by very specific motives. Vandalism of Jewish sites is, for example, often all about anti-Israel sentiment. The drawing of satanic and anarchist images on the door of St Joseph’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut, on July 15 reflects Satanism and anarchism’s longstanding anti-Catholicism.

In other cases, the attacks reflect more general efforts by the woke left to force America to accept their version of history. This is most obvious in the case of Junípero Serra, an 18th-century Catholic saint who built missions throughout what was then the Province of Las Californias, New Spain. Throughout June and July, numerous statutes of Serra have been toppled and decapitated.

Some accuse the Franciscan missionary — canonized by Pope Francis in 2015 — of promoting the destruction of Native American cultures. Others note, however, that Serra protected Native Americans from the excesses of Spanish colonial officials and soldiers — even securing formal legal recognition of Native Americans living on mission territory as full subjects of the Spanish King and thus owed certain rights.

Rather than engaging in careful scholarly reflection and debate to explain history’s true complexities, the woke left prefer direct action. We saw this in the form of protests against Serra’s canonization in 2015. This was swiftly followed by vandalism of the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission where the saint is buried, including the daubing of the words ‘Saint of Genocide’ on the church floor. Since then, there has been periodic vandalism of statues of Serra. The attacks on Serra effigies this year represent a stepping-up of this long-running campaign.

Violence in the pursuit of political ends is always designed to intimidate. And one goal of these attacks on Serra statues is to silence those who don’t ascribe to the perpetrators’ views. Such dissenters from the woke consensus about Serra include the Native American scholars who have written sympathetically about the missionary’s endeavors.

Hmm.  Thoughts?  Do you think the Church's buildings, symbols, etc. are at risk?

Thanks,

-Smac

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Here:

Catholics.  Jews.  Muslims.

Although we Latter-day Saints have not been recently targeted, we have had a number of incidents involving our properties as well.  See, e.g., here (from July 2019) :

And here (same link) :

And here (same link) (from me) :

And here (same thread as above) :

See also here (from December 2018) :

I think if all incidents of arson, vandalism, etc. were tallied up, we would be surprised at the frequency and seriousness of the issue.

Back to the first article above:

It's very distressing to hear about this happening to our Jewish brothers and sisters.

I think this is a fair observation.  I think we have seen a more casual willingness by more people to resort to violence, intimidation, bullying, threats, etc. as a form of protest, as a means of affecting political change, as a means of silencing divergent viewpoints, and so on.

The author of the article goes on:

Hmm.  Thoughts?  Do you think the Church's buildings, symbols, etc. are at risk?

Thanks,

-Smac

Yep.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/florida-man-church-fire-marion-county-sheriff-queen-of-peace-catholic-chase-arrest

https://www.romereports.com/en/2020/07/13/churches-burned-and-statues-of-mary-vandalized-in-catholic-churches-across-us/

 

Edited by poptart

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Posted (edited)

Nantes cathedral (in France) was also recently set on fire also. 

I see a generally hostile environment in the US when it comes to religion of any kind. This is evidenced by the vandalism of church/religious buildings, statuary, and symbols. I am a pessimist when it comes to this topic and don't see it ameliorating any time soon. Quite the opposite, I see it getting worse. 

Edited by Storm Rider
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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

I think if all incidents of arson, vandalism, etc. were tallied up, we would be surprised at the frequency and seriousness of the issue.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if there is a spike in these incidents with the general state of heightened discord in our nation, but it would be interesting to see the tally over time to get an idea of how dramatic the spike (if there is one) really is. 

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5 hours ago, smac97 said:

...........................................

I think if all incidents of arson, vandalism, etc. were tallied up, we would be surprised at the frequency and seriousness of the issue.

.............. I think we have seen a more casual willingness by more people to resort to violence, intimidation, bullying, threats, etc. as a form of protest, as a means of affecting political change, as a means of silencing divergent viewpoints, and so on..................

As American society continues to deteriorate, we will see more vandalism and anarchy.  Things will not improve.

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Maybe the Protestant iconoclasts are just getting back to their roots?

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We Catholics have weathered iconoclasms before. The Barque of Peter shall sail on, even with some paint splattered on it.

I do really worry about the Jews, though. Vandalism of Jewish buildings has a long and dirty history of preceding violence on Jewish persons. If my church were vandalized, I would be upset but not feel personally threatened. It is very different for Jews. I am glad the ADL tracks these things.

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9 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

Nantes cathedral (in France) was also recently set on fire also. 

I see a generally hostile environment in the US when it comes to religion of any kind. This is evidenced by the vandalism of church/religious buildings, statuary, and symbols. I am a pessimist when it comes to this topic and don't see it ameliorating any time soon. Quite the opposite, I see it getting worse. 

I went through most of the cases mentioned above and the majority (including the arson in Nantes) were committed by disgruntled church members, or members of other religions/cults. This looks more like an uptick in religious extremism, mental disease and racism. Not 'hostility towards religion of any kind'. 

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1 hour ago, Rajah Manchou said:

I went through most of the cases mentioned above and the majority (including the arson in Nantes) were committed by disgruntled church members, or members of other religions/cults. This looks more like an uptick in religious extremism, mental disease and racism. Not 'hostility towards religion of any kind'. 

Did you by chance look at all the Christian churches Egypt, Iraq, and other locations throughout the Middle East. The world cries when a mosque and Muslims are attacked and the mainstream media is quiet as a church mouse when it is a Christian church attacked or destroyed by Muslims. 

The St. Serra statues were not toppled and vandalized by disgruntled church members. These were not church members but others attacking Christian symbols. I am not sure that just because the vandalism was done by individuals of other faiths has to do with it....other than it was an attack on Christianity.

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4 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

Did you by chance look at all the Christian churches Egypt, Iraq, and other locations throughout the Middle East. The world cries when a mosque and Muslims are attacked and the mainstream media is quiet as a church mouse when it is a Christian church attacked or destroyed by Muslims. 

The St. Serra statues were not toppled and vandalized by disgruntled church members. These were not church members but others attacking Christian symbols. I am not sure that just because the vandalism was done by individuals of other faiths has to do with it....other than it was an attack on Christianity.

Yes, I've seen them. Some with my own eyes. There are long-standing conventions protecting cultural and religious heritage sites. I'm absolutely in favor of these. Let's not be quiet as a church mouse when these conventions are put at risk

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5 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Yes, I've seen them. Some with my own eyes. There are long-standing conventions protecting cultural and religious heritage sites. I'm absolutely in favor of these. Let's not be quiet as a church mouse when these conventions are put at risk

I guess those conventions did nothing to save or penalize those that destroyed, burned, and/or desecrated Christian churches in the Middle East.  But, I am glad you saw them.

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2 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

I guess those conventions did nothing to save or penalize those that destroyed, burned, and/or desecrated Christian churches in the Middle East.  

I know right? those useless Geneva Conventions.

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20 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

We Catholics have weathered iconoclasms before. The Barque of Peter shall sail on, even with some paint splattered on it.

I do really worry about the Jews, though. Vandalism of Jewish buildings has a long and dirty history of preceding violence on Jewish persons. If my church were vandalized, I would be upset but not feel personally threatened. It is very different for Jews. I am glad the ADL tracks these things.

 

16 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

I went through most of the cases mentioned above and the majority (including the arson in Nantes) were committed by disgruntled church members, or members of other religions/cults. This looks more like an uptick in religious extremism, mental disease and racism. Not 'hostility towards religion of any kind'. 

 

15 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

Did you by chance look at all the Christian churches Egypt, Iraq, and other locations throughout the Middle East. The world cries when a mosque and Muslims are attacked and the mainstream media is quiet as a church mouse when it is a Christian church attacked or destroyed by Muslims. 

The St. Serra statues were not toppled and vandalized by disgruntled church members. These were not church members but others attacking Christian symbols. I am not sure that just because the vandalism was done by individuals of other faiths has to do with it....other than it was an attack on Christianity.

It is quite possible that, as our economy and polity deteriorates, ethnic and religious symbols will come in for attack as part of the blame-game which inevitably follows on hard times.

The U.S. economy has just had the greatest drop in GDP in its history, and permanent unemployment continues its rapid increase.  People will not be able to pay rent, mortgage, or to put food on the table.  Children may not be returning to classrooms this year.  Our proud society may not go out with a bang, but with a whimper.

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On 7/29/2020 at 8:21 AM, smac97 said:

Hmm.  Thoughts?  Do you think the Church's buildings, symbols, etc. are at risk?

Thanks,

-Smac

At risk of what?  They're just symbols and we can create more symbols if necessary.  And if we don't want any to be destroyed or vandalized we can either post armed guards around them or put them behind bullet-proof and fire-proof enclosures to keep them safe from harm.

When people destroy symbols they're only destroying the symbols rather than what they represent, though, o I wouldn't worry too much about it.  The real value is in what the symbols represent rather than the symbols themselves.  

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A general anti-religious movement has been growing for decades, not only on the "woke" left but also on the anarcho-libertarian and the far authoritarian right.

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1 hour ago, Ahab said:
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Hmm.  Thoughts?  Do you think the Church's buildings, symbols, etc. are at risk?

At risk of what? 

Arson.  Vandalism.  Wanton property damage.

1 hour ago, Ahab said:

They're just symbols and we can create more symbols if necessary. 

Yes.  With money that could be better spent elsewhere.

1 hour ago, Ahab said:

And if we don't want any to be destroyed or vandalized we can either post armed guards around them or put them behind bullet-proof and fire-proof enclosures to keep them safe from harm.

When people destroy symbols they're only destroying the symbols rather than what they represent, though, o I wouldn't worry too much about it.  The real value is in what the symbols represent rather than the symbols themselves.  

I remember as a child watching realtime news coverage of a gunman who invaded the Washington D.C. Temple (here's a link to that story).  I remember feeling very upset, almost to the point of tears.  My father took me aside and asked what was wrong.  I told him that I was upset that the temple had been "ruined" by the invasion of the gunman.  He gently told me not to worry, that the temple would simply be re-dedicated, and that it's not the building itself that matters, but rather the Spirit of God that resides there, and that priesthood authority and divine consecration will always allow the Saints to maintain holy places.  

Nevertheless, I am disturbed by any targeting of religious edifices/symbolism.  When that starts to happen regularly, we are headed down a dark road.

Thanks,

-Smac

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6 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Arson.  Vandalism.  Wanton property damage.

Yes.  With money that could be better spent elsewhere.

I remember as a child watching realtime news coverage of a gunman who invaded the Washington D.C. Temple (here's a link to that story).  I remember feeling very upset, almost to the point of tears.  My father took me aside and asked what was wrong.  I told him that I was upset that the temple had been "ruined" by the invasion of the gunman.  He gently told me not to worry, that the temple would simply be re-dedicated, and that it's not the building itself that matters, but rather the Spirit of God that resides there, and that priesthood authority and divine consecration will always allow the Saints to maintain holy places.  

Nevertheless, I am disturbed by any targeting of religious edifices/symbolism.  When that starts to happen regularly, we are headed down a dark road.

Thanks,

-Smac

On an emotional level, I often empathize with those sentiments.  I don't like to see anything good destroyed, and by good I mean or anything that people have good feelings about or that inspires them to do good. 

Yet on an intellectual level I realize that things are just things and it's best to not place too much if any value in things.  And by things I mean things other than people or any form of living creature. Sometimes I feel conflicted when reconciling my intellect with my feelings.

 

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20 minutes ago, Ahab said:

On an emotional level, I often empathize with those sentiments. 

But my point isn't just about emotion.  There is something deeply ugly and vicious in targeting religious edifices and symbols.  Look at the pogroms in Europe.  Look at Kristallnacht.  Look at the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.  

Targeting religious buildings and symbols for damage/destruction is a symptom of a serious underlying ailment.

20 minutes ago, Ahab said:

Yet on an intellectual level I realize that things are just things and it's best to not place too much if any value in things. 

I agree.  My point is not about the "value {of} things."  

Thanks,

-Smac

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20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

But my point isn't just about emotion.  There is something deeply ugly and vicious in targeting religious edifices and symbols.  Look at the pogroms in Europe.  Look at Kristallnacht.  Look at the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.  

Targeting religious buildings and symbols for damage/destruction is a symptom of a serious underlying ailment.

I agree.  My point is not about the "value {of} things."  

Thanks,

-Smac

Everything we do... everything anyone and everyone does... is based on whatever we value and do not value, as individuals. 

Why do people destroy things?  Because they do not value those things... either for themselves or for others.  They would rather get rid of those things than to leave them in tact.

And the same holds true for whatever people hate, or love, or want more of, whatever they want.

So if your point is not about the "value {of) things", then what is your point?

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5 hours ago, Ahab said:

Everything we do... everything anyone and everyone does... is based on whatever we value and do not value, as individuals. 

Why do people destroy things?  Because they do not value those things... either for themselves or for others.  They would rather get rid of those things than to leave them in tact.

And the same holds true for whatever people hate, or love, or want more of, whatever they want.

So if your point is not about the "value {of) things", then what is your point?

You seem to posit that humans naturally destroy things; it is a default position. The only thing that prevents humans from destroying things is if value is placed on the item. I don't think destruction of "things" is the default position for humanity.

For the most part, individuals value things and are ambivalent about most things of others....unless greed is in play, but that is a different topic. 

I believe hate is an active emotion. When we hate that which is not ours, that which we do not believe, or that which we do not value, then it motivates us to act, to destroy, to obliterate. I think of the two giant Buddha figures were destroyed by gunfire and canon fire by Muslims. They did not destroy them simply because they did not value them. They destroyed them for a host of reasons; they were haram within Islam being first among them. 

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Other then the mention of a recorded increase in anti-Semitic incidents the article just throws out anecdotes and assumes that vandalism against religious sites is on the rise.

No mention of mosques being targeted. No, just Christians and Jewish targets are talked about. Okay, this is interesting, a discussion prejudice and....

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That’s not to say that anti-Semitism (the oldest prejudice) and anti-Catholicism (the last acceptable prejudice) have disappeared from America — 2020 shows that this isn’t the case.

LOL!

Prejudice against Catholics is the last acceptable prejudice? No point in reading further. Writer is an ignoramus. Now I know why there is no token mention of Islam or Hindu vandalism: They do not count for some reason.

Well, I did a bit of a dive and cannot find any stats on religious vandalism. It is probably not a closely tracked crime rate. The easiest place to look for a comparison in the US is probably hate crimes which are tracked by targeted religion. Overall trends at the FBI show a spike in hate crimes in 2017 but that is believed due to increased use of the law. The ratios by religion are fairly stable. Judaism is at the top of the list by a landslide with Islam in second at about a third of Judaism’s total. There are more Sikh hate crimes than Catholic ones and both have more than the “Mormons”. So where is this data on a rash of church attacks?

The writer also tries to make attacks on Jewish sites about the nation of Israel specifically and blames the unsubstantiated increasing attacks on “limp” leftist mayors and governors during the protests but other than a few religious vandalism hits during the statue excitement I cannot recall any targeted religious damage and certainly not enough to constitute a big increase so I do not get it. Unless Confederate statues are religious monuments now???

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Much of this can be countered by more security cameras in and around religious sites.  It may not stop the attack but those responsible can be caught earlier.  I am sure may of these idiots are carrying phones.  It should be possible to track down those responsible through their phones.  Most important of all is strong fines and jail time for those accused. These people need to understand that if they engage in these acts of violence and damage that a big part of their life will be affected from it.  The Church has the money.  It can invest in HD cameras around the church buildings. 

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7 minutes ago, carbon dioxide said:

Much of this can be countered by more security cameras in and around religious sites.  It may not stop the attack but those responsible can be caught earlier.  I am sure may of these idiots are carrying phones.  It should be possible to track down those responsible through their phones.  Most important of all is strong fines and jail time for those accused. These people need to understand that if they engage in these acts of violence and damage that a big part of their life will be affected from it.  The Church has the money.  It can invest in HD cameras around the church buildings. 

Cameras are fine. I am less comfortable with more extensive phone tracking. It does make me laugh when people worry about vaccines with microchips in them tracking them when they voluntarily haul around tracking devices all day and even feed it information on what they are doing.

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On 7/30/2020 at 2:51 PM, Ahab said:

Everything we do... everything anyone and everyone does... is based on whatever we value and do not value, as individuals. 

...

With due respect, this proposition presumes that everyone acts rationally all of the time.

A pretty big presumption, that.

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