Many Churches Blind to Risk of Criminal Attacks

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Churches across the U.S. are increasingly becoming targets of criminal acts, according to a new report by the Christian Security Network.

Based on statistics compiled over two years, CSN found that burglary, thefts, arson, vandalism, internal theft, sex offenses and miscellaneous crime all increased in 2010.

The group said FBI statistics don't give an accurate picture of the risks churches and religious groups face, since the reports only track hate crimes on churches.

"By all indications, crime is far higher against Christian organizations than is being reported" by local law enforcement agencies, CSN Executive Director Jeffrey Hawkins told Charisma Magazine.

"If people just look at the FBI Hate Crime reports, which average 100 crimes a year against Christian institutions, they are missing the thousands of others we are documenting," he added.

CSN Executive Director Jeffrey Hawkins spoke with CBN News about the findings and how churches can work to protect themselves.  Click play for his comments.

CSN findings revealed that arsonists have attacked about 100 churches in the past two years.

Internal thefts cost churches about $250,000 per incident, adding up to more than $15 million a year.

The Christian Security Network said one of the biggest problems is that many church leaders don't think they can be targeted.

"They have that mentality of, 'It can't happen here,'" Hawkins said. That's the reason why we released this report and compiled these statistics is to show that crimes do take place in every church, no matter what size, no matter where they're located, and it's happening here in the United States."

Hawkins added that becoming security-savvy is wise stewardship of God's resources.

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