Sometime between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, a vandal (or maybe more than one of them) spray-painted the following messages on the property of Shady Grove United Methodist Church in Irmo, South Carolina:
But that wasn’t enough. The vandal(s) came back Sunday night to graffiti this on the side of the building:
I don’t know who committed the crime — and I don’t even know if they were really atheists or people pretending to be atheists — but this is awful behavior and none of us should condone it. If we’re right, we’re right on the basis of our arguments alone. This graffiti proves nothing and it only enhances the false stereotype that atheists are immoral god-haters.
“There is a great group of young people in this community, and to see this go on is disheartening,” said [Pastor Bob] Vincent. “You would think that someone wouldn’t damage a church or do that to a church you would think that is sacred. But you never know.”
The pastor says they will repaint the building and get back to life as they know it, hoping to send a message of his own to whomever did this.
“We have faith that this will be resolved and that there will be a learned lesson from it and especially from the person who has done this damage.”
You can see the pastor talk about the damage in Katie Williams‘ report for WACH Fox News:
You know, this happened last summer, too — atheists tagging a church — and this online community came together to raise money for the church for clean-up. The pastor said he appreciated the gesture, but they had already fixed the damage, so we donated the money to Foundation Beyond Belief.
I spoke with Pastor Vincent earlier today and he told me they’ve mostly cleaned up the damage. He added that he wasn’t even sure it was atheists who did this — “they misspelled ‘atheism’ in the graffiti!” — but he hopes the vandals stop what they’re doing.
So here’s what I’m suggesting:
I’m setting up a fundraiser. The plan is that the pastor and I will figure out a good (secular, non-proselytizing) charity group in his area that could use the donations. Together, we will give that charity whatever we raise.
It’s a gesture to show that, while we have very serious disagreements about the nature of God, we all want to help our communities and make this world a better place. It’s possible to work together toward that cause. It’s also a slap in the face to the vandals — if they wanted to prove anything, they failed. I hope they’re caught and penalized. And I hope the stories about the vandalism talk about how atheists came together with this pastor to support a local charity, and not how some evil atheist(s) did this awful damage.
Please consider chipping in and making a difference:
As always, I’ll provide proof that all this money goes to the right place.
Thank you for your support.
***Edit***: I should have mentioned that Pastor Vincent spoke only for himself during our conversation. He still needs to get approval from his congregation in order for his church to join us on this endeavor. But either way, I’ll keep you all informed as to what they decide to do and the money will go to a good place.