Topic 4 Desecration / Vandalism

The term desecration refers to both verbal abuse or physical actions that offend a religion, a religious symbol or building; it can also refer to someone offending the sacredness of non-religious ideas or objects or of anything someone else is considering holy. (

In our case, the protection of places of worship is based on the prohibition against hurting religious feelings and intentional harm. (Sapir & Statman, 2016)

Vandalism is the intentional physical damage of objects/property in way that diminishes the property’s value. Spray-painting, breaking windows are examples of vandalism (Theoharis). In the case of places of worship, acts of vandalism are not only perceived against the property, but also by proxy to the whole community, and are considered hate crimes. (The Pluralism project, Harvard University)

An example of statistics reported for France between 2016-2017 show that most acts of vandalism took place against Christian places of worship (see Chart 2, reported by Statista). Connecting with your religious community is considered one of the ways to prevent vandalism of a religious holy place. (The Voss Law Firm)

Chart 2: Breakdown of the number of acts of vandalism against places of worship in France in 2016 and 2017, by religion