A recent surge in the desecration of Catholic statues should alarm Americans of all faiths or no faith. It marks an escalation in the tactics of self-described Marxists and other radical leftists whose ultimate goal is to destroy America’s cultural underpinnings and force a more authoritarian system of government on our country. The lessons of the previous century tell us these attacks on religious symbols and houses of worship are just a glimpse of a more sinister agenda. Leaders of every faith and all levels of government should be denouncing this assault on religious life.
In the midst of the protests following the death of George Floyd, cities from coast to coast have seen attacks on church property – from the destruction or removal of statues of St. Junipero Serra across California to the defacing of a Catholic church with satanic and anarchist symbols in Connecticut, to the burning of a Florida church with parishioners inside. In several states in between, statues of Jesus and Mary have been attacked and, in some cases, decapitated. These are just a few examples of the anti-Catholic vandalism and violence perpetrated so far this summer. They are not acts of peaceful protesters.
To his credit, President Donald Trump has spoken publicly against these attacks and made it clear such desecration will not go unpunished. On June 26, he signed an executive order declaring that those who damage or deface religious property will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. So far, though, former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent in the 2020 presidential race and the only Catholic on the ticket, has refused to denounce the anarchists. His silence is deafening.
The destruction of religious institutions and symbols is an age-old tactic of totalitarian regimes. Atheism is non-negotiable in a Marxist system.
The Soviet Union, for example, moved with purpose to eradicate religion within its own borders and among its satellite states. While the Russian Orthodox Church was the government’s primary target, other Christians (especially Catholics), Jews, and Muslims did not escape persecution. By 1926, the Roman Catholic Church had no bishops left in the Soviet Union, and by 1941 only two of the nearly 1,200 churches that had existed in 1917 were still active.
There are certainly modern-day examples of the hostility toward religion which is characteristic of socialist systems.
In Venezuela, where socialism and corruption have plunged the country into hunger, crime, and despair, the Catholic clergy have been under attack in retaliation for challenging the failing policies of the regime. In recent years, there have been coordinated attacks on priests by supporters of the government and vandalism of churches (sound familiar?).
And in Communist China, the government asserts complete control over all faiths and religious institutions, including the Catholic Church. The faithful who seek to worship freely are forced to do so in “underground” (unregistered) churches. Now, though, new rules put into effect earlier this year to crack down on unregistered groups give the government a role in every aspect of their activities, from their teachings, which must include supporting the socialist policies of the Communist Party, to their finances.
Despite what history has shown us time and time again about the eventual path of religious intolerance, too many Americans in positions of authority – including prominent Catholics - today refuse to condemn the radical left’s assault on our religious symbols and houses of worship.
Their disgraceful silence speaks volumes to all Americans – Catholic or not.
Angela Flood is a member of the Catholics for Trump Advisory Committee.