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The 2023 Threat Data in Review

FB-ISAO provides members with regular reporting of incidents directed at Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) throughout the year. Our incident reporting is derived from numerous sources including open-source reporting shared on the FB-ISAO Slack workspace as well as from our public and private partners at the federal, state, and local levels.  This reporting can help organizations understand the various threats and risks that they may face and can help inform risk mitigation strategies. In 2023, the Co-Chair of the FB-ISAO ORG conducted events-data research based on incidents reported or tracked. In total the FB-ISAO ORG recorded a total of 1,027 attacks on Houses of Worship (HOW) during 2023.

Targeted FBO.

  • 43% were against Protestant churches.
  • 32% targeted Jewish synagogues.
  • 14% were against Catholic churches.
  • 5% targeted mosques.

This trends against HOW demographics. According to a 2022 Duke University study, 85% of churches in the U.S. are Protestant, 6% are Catholic, 3.2% are Jewish, and .7% are Muslim. These figures indicate that members of the Jewish, Catholic, and Islamic faiths are disproportionately targeted in attacks.

Yearly Trend. Through November, there was an average of 77 incidents per month. In December, the sharp increase in the number of email bomb threats in drove the total that month to 184 and skewed the distribution, increasing the mean to 84.

Types of Incidents. Nearly half (48%) of incidents were property crimes followed by threats of violence.

  • Breakdown by FBO (in order by frequency/volume).
    • Protestant churches faced vandalism, theft, arson, assaults, and graffiti.
    • Jewish synagogues and temples encountered bomb threats, harassment, graffiti, other threats, and assaults.
    • Catholic churches were hit by vandalism, theft, threats, arson, assaults, and graffiti.
    • Mosques were victim of vandalism, assaults, theft, graffiti, and arson.
    • The full breakdown is in the chart below. The red highlighted numbers represent the #1 target of each attack type; orange is the #2 target.

Members participated in a briefing on the 2023 threat data. The briefing took a deep dive into the data. The recording is available on the FB-ISAO Slack workspace. Members can access the recording on demand. If you are not yet a member of FB-ISAO, consider joining here.

In addition, the FB-ISAO issued a security advisory that provides greater detail regarding the threat data including information on causalities, types of weapons used, location of the incidents and some themes that can inform security considerations for organizations.

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