The Billings (MT) Gazette reports that vandals caused more than $20,000 in damage at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Heights late Saturday or early Sunday. During that time frame, someone entered the church, pried open more than 40 inside doors, and ransacked several offices. Church officials found than nothing appeared to be missing, but damage to the doors and offices was estimated at more than $20,000.
Officials reported the burglary at the church, at 1000 Wicks Lane, at 6:39 a.m. Sunday, according to Billings police. The case in under investigation, but there's no indication that it's a hate crime at this point, according to Sgt. Scott Conrad. This is probably a reasonable assessment; Billings has had no record of "hate incidents" since 1993, when some local hooligans, inspired by local distribution of white nationalist literature, threw a beer bottle through a Jewish family's door, and vandalized a few Jewish headstones at the local cemetery. This triggered the "Not In Our Town" campaign which brought national attention to the community.
In addition, Billings, at 90% White, still enjoys the racial homogenity which is quite helpful in precluding serious conflict in the first place. Diversity invariably tends to bring conflict in its wake. Only shared sacrifice, the type experienced by soldiers in combat, is strong enough to override those differences.
Still, in the wake of a chapel fire in Mesa, AZ and two LDS chapels in Fullerton, CA vandalized, I'm wondering if this apparent upsurge is real, or are more of these incidents making the news primarily because of the increased publicity directed towards the Church as a result of Mitt Romney's campaign.