Incidents of Religious-Motivated Violence in US (in last ~10 years)

Here is an [extremely biased] article about some Muslims and some “Christians” getting into fisticuffs in Dearborn, Michigan recently. TL;DR: Muslims hold some sort of parade or festival, a group of hateful “Christians” antagonizes the Muslims, fisticuffs ensue, Christians cry “Persecution!”

I’m also aware of the Amish Beard-Cutting Attacks in the news recently.

What are some other acts of religious violence perpetrated in the US in, say, the last ten years?


Depending on the definitions of “religious,” and “violence,” in my nice bedroom community near Washington, DC, the Unitarian Universalist Church has twice had its sign advocating tolerance and equal rights for gays burned down.

That’s close to what I’m getting at, but I’m interested in actual assaults on people rather than property. Thanks though!

There were those recent incidents where underage second and third wives (and all the children) were taken from a Mormon sect over the issue of polygamy. Not really violence, but certainly intolerance.

If you want to go back further, there was the Waco bake-off, where depending on who you believe, the men in black helicopters burned down Koresh’s house while the religious types inside had nothing to do with machine-gunning BATF agents through the walls during a raid - or the insiders burned down the house, or refused to let the women and children leave, because death was preferrable to surrendering to the agents of satan.

The Knoxville UU Church shooting in 2008 (which was more political than religious, but the UU’s religion informs their politics, so it counts, I’d think).

If I recall, some of the “wives” who were “taken” were 14 or 15 year-old girls, so I am not sure that is necc. something I would label intolerant.

(Yes, I am fully aware that some 14 or 15 year-olds can indeed legally get married in certain jurisdictions under certain circumstances, but the FLDS sect that you are talking about is little more than an organized pedophile ring with religious trappings in order to give it a veneer of legitimacy. Warren Jeffs is an unapologetic child molester and a con-man, not a prophet or legitimate spiritual leader.)

Anti-abortion violence and murder counts, in my book.

The only incident of personal violence in the last ten years in the US that was anti-abortion is hard to classify as clearly religiously motivated, since it was the murder of someone who was serving as the usher in his church. And the killer appeared to be rather mentally unstable, unsurprisingly. (Cite.)

I don’t know if this counts, either, but -


AFAIK it was not really poison, just an attempt to scare them.

And I have no way to tell how much, if any, of this video is factual.


There’s usually a few attempted bombings/arson attempts on clinics every year (and one guy drove his SUV through the lobby), though its hard to tell from various listings how many of those endangered people vs just trying to blow the place up at night.

There were also a large spate of false anthrax letters to clinics after 9/11 (some 650, 500 of which were traced to one mailer). Most of them were outside the ten year window, but some of them were in 2002 or later.

The Fort Hood shootings.

The attempted Times Square bombing.

The shooting of a recruiting office in (I believe) Arkansas.

Crown Heights riots.

Why does that make it hard to classify as religiously motivated?

Especially since the shooter was well-known to have advocated the death of the victim in the past on pro-life message boards, as well as being known as an associate of fanatical anti-abortion groups.

The violence by Eric Rudolph was religiously motivated.

There was a bombing (accidental) of a St. Paul public library a few years ago. They were aiming for a Planned Parenthood Clinic, but got the address wrong, and hit the library with the next higher address number. And didn’t even do much damage there, since they put the bomb in a dumpster in the loading dock.

But it was done in the middle of the night, so would not be violence against people.

Because I was thinking of most religiously motivated violence as directed against people who are religiously different from the perpetrator, and I assume that both the victim and the killer were Christian. I grant you, that may be problematic, since as mentioned the killer appears to be a nutcase.

It would difficult or impossible to draw a line to separate religiously motivated violence from violence driven by other causes, like politics or craziness or whatever.


No, it probably wasn’t.

Rudolph is not necessarily to be taken at his word (psycho killers tend to be pathological liars, too), and you may be able to find other interviews or correspondence in which he says something completely different, BUT… in letters to hs mother, Eric Rudolph not only denies being a Christian, he laughs at the born-again Christian types who want to save his soul, because (in HIS words), “I prefer Nietzsche to the Bible.”

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been people doing evil things based on their own interpretation of Christianity… but it DOES mean Eric Rudolph, contrary to popular belief, probably isn’t one of them.

Because some people like to pretend that the hardcore violent anti-abortion terrorists have nothing to do with the hardcore conservative/fundamentalist/evangelical/charismatic/etc. Christians who fund and protect them.

Eh. While he does say “I prefer Nietzsche to the Bible” and laughs at people who consider him a sinner, he does NOT explicitly deny being Christian in that article. Furthermore, the article contains this:

…which strongly implies he’s a religious zealot.

Citing this article, Wikipedia claims “As a teenager Rudolph was taken by his mother to a Church of Israel compound in 1984; it is connected to the Christian Identity movement.[2] He has called himself a Roman Catholic in “the war to end this holocaust” (in reference to abortion).[3] He has confirmed religious motivation, but denied racial motivation for his crimes.[4]”

Conclusion: first-person statements by Rudolph explicitly claiming religious motivation make dubious, at best, any claim that his crimes were not motivated by religious belief.

A great deal of violence against homosexuals is motivated by religion; I’m not sure where to find exact statistics on the motivations of gay bashers however.

He supposedly had a longstanding relationship with the Christian Identity movement. What he said after the crime doesn’t necessarily reflect his true feelings; many extremist groups understand the concept of plausible deniability. The people who actually go out and commit violence are often told to make a point of publicly dissociating themselves from the group.