The Persecution Continuum: Vandalizing Churches

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Deacon Greg Kandra had the story of churches that were vandalized in Brooklyn this week. The police have already arrested a suspect and charged him with a hate crime.

That is exactly the right charge. The increasingly widespread vandalizing of churches is indeed a hate crime. Where is this rise of hatred directed at people of faith in general and Christians in particular coming from?

I believe it is inspired by the virulent anti-Christian ethos in our halls of higher education, the mass media, and at least two social movements.

Christian-bashing hate blogs lead easily-led not-so-brights into hatred, support of discriminatory practices against Christians and verbal hazing of Christians. This kind of we-are-special and the people-we’ve-picked-out-to-hate-are-less-than-human incitement has historically been able to create fanatic followings of mental and moral midgets who will do anything to anyone to prove their “specialness.”

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Cheap demagoguery is not new and it is certainly not a sign of intellectual prowess. Falling for it and following it is actually a sign of emotional immaturity and the inability to think for oneself. If ever anyone was being brain-washed today it is the millions of people who have fallen into the Dawkins pit of “mock them; ridicule them; in public; with contempt.” Following this kind of leader does not prove you are intellectually superior. It proves that you are morally and developmentally challenged.

Vandalizing churches is just the next, highly-predictable step in the march toward violent persecution. For people in this country to dismiss these things because it’s not so bad here as it is in Kano Nigeria, is a little like someone looking at a pot of water sitting on the stove with steam rising off the water and saying, “It’s not boiling,” as if that means it isn’t on its way to a boil.

The social movements that have taken on a cloak of animosity toward Christians are the gay rights movement and the abortion rights movement. Their behavior seems to be basically a reaction to that simple fact that Christian teaching is that homosexual sexual activity is disordered sexuality and that abortion is the killing of a human being.

These people — who are closely allied with one another politically — appear to be angry because the Church will not redefine its teachings to tell them that their sins are not sinful. In the beginning they expressed this as anger because Christian people exercised their free right as American citizens to lobby for laws against abortion and in favor of traditional marriage. This has since morphed into demands that the law force Christians to participate in abortions and same-sex marriages against their will or face loss of their livelihoods and businesses.

As such, these social movements have begun waging war on the freedom of conscience of those who disagree with them.

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This has become so heated and crazy that both the gay rights movement and the abortion movement have increasingly aligned themselves with the christian-bashing-hazing-insulting-sickos of extreme secularism. This despite the fact that both their movements are based on common claims to human rights that arise directly from the Christian teaching that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God.

They might do well to consider the history of extreme secularism and atheism when it is ascendant. Atheist/secularist movements have historically aligned themselves with ideas such as readily available abortion and the rights of groups that feel marginalized. However, when they take power, oppression of homosexuals and state control of human reproduction always seems to follow.

The result of these various forces in action has been a steady march from verbal attacks and verbal hazing toward legal discrimination and now an uptick in vandalizing churches. Most of these instances of vandalism appear to be just that: Vandalism.

One interesting thing is that almost all of them are being covered by local and community press. The larger press is ignoring them, primarily, I would guess, because taken individually, they seem to be isolated incidents of vandalism. It’s the sheer number and consistency of them, combined with the social/political/educational hazing of Christians, that makes them significant.

I don’t think these vandals are organized. However they so often replicate one another that they are appear to be coming from a central set of ideologies and attitudes. If you wonder what that is, just watch the subtle but ubiquitous jibes at faith on almost every television channel, sit in on a lecture or two at your local university, or visit some of the hate blogs and witness their steady, bam-bam-bam drumbeat of Christian-bashing and hatred.

I did a simple Google search this morning on vandalized churches. This is a completely unscientific list of news stories about churches that have been vandalized this summer. The common things the vandals write on the church walls, statues, etc, are Nazi insignia and comments about religious “brainwashing.”

Washington National Cathedral

On July 29, a vandal splattered the organ of historic Bethlehem Chapel and the gilded, hand-carved altarpiece in Children’s Chapel with bright green paint. Damage is currently estimated at $15,000.

Brooklyn, NY

NEW YORK (WABC) – Police arrested a man in connection with the vandalism to a number of houses of worship in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Tuesday morning.

55-year-old Chris Papadimitropoulos is charged with six counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime, 12 counts of criminal mischief and 12 counts of making graffiti.

Wilmington, DE

A trio of Wilmington churches were vandalized with red spray paint on Saturday morning, WCVB initially reported and a town official confirmed to Patch.

“Brainwashed” was stenciled onto statues, doors and stairs and other church property at St. Dorothy’s Church, St. Thomas of Villanova and Wilmington Congregational Church.

Union County SC

Union County, SC -

Union County Sheriff David Taylor says the Buffalo United Methodist Church at 108 Hill Street in Buffalo was vandalized.

Taylor says German swastikas, graffiti and satanic symbols were spray-painted throughout the church.

Bibles inside the church were also ripped apart.

Charleston, SC

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - A South Carolina man said he was “mad at God” when he took out his frustration on 17 churches in dozens of acts of vandalism over the past five years, according to a local newspaper.

Lincoln Township, PA

LINCOLN TOWNSHIP — The pristine face of a 19th Century church was scarred by a vandal Saturday.

 An original stained glass window at Christ Casebeer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lincoln Township was broken with a large rock. The church was built in 1845, according to Rev. Dennis Doebler.

Lee County, FL 

The search is over for three men responsible for breaking into St. Raphael’s Church. Lee County deputies detained and charged three juvenile men early this morning.

Deputies responded to St. Raphael’s Church on Lee Boulevard May 25th after it was broken into and restroom walls and doors were vandalized.

“I can’t of course repeat some of the things that were written on the wall; but they were needless to say obscene,” said Father Dennis Cooney, of St. Raphael’s. “It was something that was done out of pure viciousness.”

A donated Cadillac in the parking lot was also spray painted.

St Paul, MN

Two St. Paul churches were apparent crime victims recently.

According to a police report, someone tipped over a concrete statue of Saint Juan Diego at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 401 Concord St., breaking off its head. The damage occurred sometime between 6 p.m. Monday and 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to police. The statue is valued at $1,000.

Police are also investigating the theft of copper gutters valued at $1,000 from the First Church of Christ Scientist at 2315 Highland Pkwy. The theft is believed to have happened sometime between July 25 and Thursday.

Aurora, CO

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) Investigators searching for the vandal or vandals responsible for heavily damaging a church in Aurora on Easter Sunday are looking into some DNA evidence in their attempt to solve the case.

So far there’s no description for who the vandal who damaged St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church on March 31 was, but the priest there thinks he knows how they did it.

Father Jim Gilchrist told CBS4 he thinks they took a rock from the prayer garden, smashed a window and crawled in, and then trashed the place.

They ransacked the worship area, shot off fire extinguishers and stole cash and checks from the office.

Buffalo, NY

The Union County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the vandalism of a church in Buffalo.

Sheriff David Taylor said someone broke into Buffalo United Methodist Church on Hill Street overnight and spray painted swastikas, upside down crosses, pentagrams and Satanic messages around the church, splattered red paint on statues, tore pages out of Bibles and turned crosses upside down. Damage was found in the sanctuary and Sunday school rooms.

Roswell. NM

ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – Roswell Police are searching for suspects in a string of churchvandalismovertheweekend.
According to police, one church received a threatening letter and another had a bunchofwindowsbroken.
“Everybody is kind of stunned that nothing is sacred anymore,” said Deacon Howard Herring of St. Peter’s Catholic Church. “Even churches are under attack.”

Hampshire, TN

HAMPSHIRE, Tenn. - It’s a place where people come to worship, but police said they’re investigating why a mid-state church became the target of vandals, even starting a fire inside.

Investigators said they will be looking at whether this was a prank or something much more serious at Dry Fork Church of Christ.

In a town like Hampshire, Tennessee, church is more than just a place of worship.

“Dry Fork Church of Christ was established in 1850 and we presently have served in this location since 1973,” said Shirley Green, who has been a member of the church her entire life. “Our parents and grandparents went here and now our descendants are here.”

The congregation was shocked to find their church had become the target of vandals.

Batavia, NY

BATAVIA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Batavia Police are on the hunt for a graffiti vandal who targeted three churches. The three calls came in to police between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m. Monday.

Someone spray painted on Batavia Assembly of God, Grace Baptist Church and City Church with the message “Religion is a mind virus.”

Pastor Marty MacDonald of City Church said, “I am hoping to meet with this person and go out to lunch and hug him and pray for him, because that’s what the Bible tells us to do.”

Westlake Village, CA

Cleaning crews worked swiftly to remove derogatory graffiti that was placed on property belonging to the City of Westlake Village and St. Jude Catholic Church on Easter weekend.

Vandals targeted the 32000 block of Lindero Canyon Road sometime between Fri., March 29 and Sat., March 30, authorities said.

The graffiti included a reference to homosexuality, several four-letter words and a swastika, a source told The Acorn. One scrawl reportedly said, “God is gay.”

Gastonia, NC

GASTONIA, N.C. — The pastor of Covenant Baptist Church said it is a place of hope and faith, and it is disappointing that someone decided to put a negative message on the church wall.

Obscene words with a reference to God and satanic images are covered with a towel on one wall of the church. Power washing did not wipe them away. The cloth does not cover the framework of the disturbing graffiti.

Savannah, GA

 SAVANNAH, GA (June 13, 2013): Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Detectives are searching for 24-year-old Michael Christopher Garko, believed responsible for thousands of dollars in damage to a Savannah church.

At 8:35 a.m. Monday, Metro officers responded to The Church at Godley Station, on the 1600 block of Benton Boulevard. Officers observed a broken window on the front door and several shattered glass windowpanes around the building. It did not appear that the suspect made entry.

Shelton, CT 

SHELTON – St. Margaret Mary Church, located at 380 Long Hill Ave., was vandalized overnight, police said.

A maid discovered the damage Monday around 6:30 a.m. and called police.

Extensive damage was done to the interior of the church. Several religious statues inside and outside the church were destroyed. Two vehicles in the church’s parking lot were vandalized, police said.

Read more: http://foxct.com/2013/06/10/church-in-shelton-vandalized-statues-destroyed/#ixzz2av5q9GxZ

Omaha, NB

A vandal appears to have used a Holy Cross athletic field near 60th and Center Streets to turn donuts, leaving behind a trail of damage.

Employees discovered the vandalism Thursday morning.

“This damage was definitely purposeful,” said Katie Holmes, office manager for Holy Cross. “It looks like someone was doing donuts on the grass and lost control.”

A section of the field was torn up by the tire tracks. A church-owned garage door appeared to have been backed into, and some nearby heavy city equipment was damaged, she said.

It was the second time in the past year that church has dealt with damage at its field, Holmes said. In the earlier incident, a driver ran into the fence.

Brooklyn, NY

A graffiti vandal painted a large letter “X” on two statues outside St. Anselm’s Church on the corner of 82nd Street and Fourth Avenue last week, but cops have faith they’ll catch the culprit, who was caught on video in the act, and who now has a price on his head.

Union, SC

UNION, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Graffiti, torn Bibles and other vandalism was found in a Union County church early Tuesday morning, according to deputies.

Union County Sheriff David Taylor said furniture was damaged, swastikas and satanic phrases were spray painted on the walls and several Bibles were torn apart.

The phrase “Christ is dead, Satan is alive” was spray-painted on one wall.

Sued by Government for Refusing to Provide Flowers for Gay Wedding, Elderly Florist Files Countersuit

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Arlene’s Flower and Gifts.  Is it the only place to buy flower in Washington? 

Bob Ferguson, Washington state’s attorney general, probably thought he was picking an easy fight when he took on 68 year old Barronelle Stutzman. After all, she not only had gray hair, she was a small business owner with very few resources to defend herself against the government. 

It probably looked like an easy way to earn kudos from the my-way-or-the-highway crowd that seems to be running parts of our government these days. Ms Stutzman, who has a history of employing self-identified homosexuals, as well as serving them, evidently draws the line when it comes to providing flowers for gay weddings.

I think I see where she’s coming from. Selling flowers to gay customers or employing gay people are both well within Christian behavior. In fact, treating gay people like people is pretty much a requirement of following Jesus. Providing flowers for a gay wedding, on the other hand, would have put Ms Stutzman in the position of actively participating in something that just about all traditional Christians regard as sinful. It is a violation of what Jesus intended for marriage to be, and, many people believe, will do great harm to the already damaged institution of marriage. 

To use an analogy, if someone who was getting ready to rob bank came into your store and wanted to buy a carton of milk for their lunch, selling them the milk would not make you part of their bank robbing. However, if they asked you to sell them a bag for the money, and they told you it would be used in a bank robbery, you would be part of the crime. 

I am not equating bank robbery with gay marriage. They are entirely different. I just used that as an illustration. 

The point here is that to compel someone to participate in an action that they regard as sinful is a violation of their human dignity and their right as human beings and American citizens to decide these things for themselves. Even if bank robbery was legal, if a store owner still believes that theft is a sin, they should have the right to refuse to sell the erstwhile robber the bag for the loot.

Ms Stutzman’s problems began on March 1, when Robert Ingersoll, who had known Ms Stutzman for 10 years, asked her to sell him flowers for his “wedding” to Curt Freed. Here’s Ms Stutzman’s description of what happened:

“He said he decided to get married, and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,’” Stutzman said. “He thanked me and said he respected my opinion. We talked and gave each other a hug and he left.” She said it was the only wedding she had declined in 37 years.

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Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson

Attorney General Ferguson must not have too many serious crimes to deal with up there in Washington State because he immediately saddled up his white horse and rode out to hammer down on Ms Stutzman. He is using a consumer protection act to seek a $2,000 fine against Ms Stutzman, along with a permanent injunction which would force her to either sell flowers for gay weddings or to stop selling flowers for wedding ceremonies altogether. I do not know what jurisdiction passed the act the AG is using. 

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Barronelle Stutzman

The only legitimate reason I can see for the chief law enforcement officer in Washington state to take such an extreme interest in this incident is that Ms Stutzman’s shop, Arlene’s Flower and Gifts, must be the only place in Washington state where those poor people who live there can buy flowers. That’s kind of sad, when you think about it.

However, Ms Stutzman hasn’t rolled over. She has filed a countersuit through the Alliance Defending Freedom. Her lawsuit is based on federal constitutional protections of religious freedom and protections in the Washington State Constitution.  

According to American’s Defending Freedom:

ADF explains that the state’s lawsuit “is attempting to force Stutzman to act contrary to her religious convictions in violation of her constitutional freedoms.”

“In America, the government is supposed to protect freedom, not use its intolerance for certain viewpoints to intimidate citizens into acting contrary to their faith convictions,” said ADF senior legal counsel Dale Schowengerdt. “Family business owners are constitutionally guaranteed the freedom to live and work according to their beliefs.”

He added, “It is this very freedom that gives America its cherished diversity and protects citizens from state-mandated conformity.”

In additional to federal constitutional protections, the Washington State Constitution also protects “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief, and worship,” as stated in Article 1, Section 11.

Stutzman has set up a fund for her defense. Donations can be sent to:

Key Bank
1275 Lee Blvd
Richland, WA 99352
509-392-4638
Attn: Lindsey


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