We Could Learn a Lesson from These Christians Whose Property Was Vandalized

This was the entrance to the Christian ministry Faith and Action — right behind the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.:

(via Faith and Action)

This was the same entrance after some vandalism over the weekend:

(via Faith and Action)

The Ten Commandments monument was toppled. The steel rod that held it in place was bent. And a “For Rent” yard sign was placed near the damage.

They have no idea who did it. (Thankfully, no one’s blaming atheists… yet.)

Either way, let’s agree that this is awful and condemn it swiftly. We can fight to remove Ten Commandment monuments from government property all we want — and we should — but we shouldn’t stand for this sort of damage on anyone’s private property.

I’ve mocked Rev. Rob Schenck, the president of Faith and Action, in the past for his useless attempts to “anoint” one of the doorways President Obama would walk through during his first inauguration ceremony as well as the doorway to the room where then-Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor‘s confirmation hearings would be held.

But Schenck actually did something admirable in the wake of this damage. Check out what he said yesterday:

“… we are asking the perpetrator to come forward and confess their crime,” said the Rev. Rob Schenck… “If they can do that, we’ll invite them to the scene of the crime and will listen as long as necessary to hear their motives. We want to know why they feel as strongly as they do. All we ask is they let us [have] a few minutes to tell them what we think. After that, all will be forgiven and forgotten.”

They won’t press charges. They don’t want anyone to get in trouble. They just want a conversation.

You can say that’s just a publicity stunt — and I would agree — but what a generous thing to say. When something like that happens, you want to know why someone did it a lot more than you want to see that person get punished for it. That message of forgiveness, even for a monument the organization fought so hard to install in the first place (and ultimately put in place without a permit), makes the group look golden.

Atheist groups can learn a lesson from that. The next time one of our billboards get vandalized, before we call the cops, consider this: The billboards can be replaced. The media will be paying attention to how we react. And we would be doing ourselves a huge favor by telling the truth: We don’t know what the vandals are so afraid of. We’re not bad people. We’re kind, decent, law-abiding citizens. And we’re not looking for revenge. Answers would be nice, though.

Forgiveness isn’t just a Christian virtue. All of us are capable of it.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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