Deadly Attacks at Churches Mostly Personal Conflict Spillovers and Robberies

Sunday, March 31, 2013
Darlene Sitler, shot to death by ex-husband Gregory Eldred during serives at First United Presbyterian Church in Coudersport, Pa, December 2012

Some churches in the U.S. have hired security guards to protect parishioners from the possible threat of anti-religious gunmen. But statistics show that most fatal shootings at churches at other places of worship stem from robberies gone bad or incidents of domestic violence or arguments between friends.


Carl Chinn, author of the book Evil Invades Sanctuary, gathered information on church-related violence from 1999 through January of this year. He says there were 646 “deadly force incidents” (DFI’s) during this span—two-thirds of them between 2009 and 2012— leading to 339 deaths and 444 injuries.


Of the 646 DFI’s, robberies caused 117 of them, making it the largest category. The next largest category was domestic violence incidents that turned deadly, which occurred 84 times. Third were “personal conflict” situations in which a disagreement between friends got out of hand. These totaled 76.


Way down the list were DFIs that were provoked by religious bias, which occurred 36 times (7%).


The denominations that have seen the most attacks are the Baptists (140), followed by Catholics (100) and Methodists (42).

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Minnesota Churches Beefing Up Security Following Newtown, Other Shootings At Houses Of Worship (by Rose French, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Deadly Force Incidents (DFI's) At Faith-Based Organizations In The United States (Includes Abductions, Attacks, Suspicious Deaths, Suicides And Deadly Force Intervention / Protection) (Carl Chinn)


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