When the caretaker of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Yardley, Pennsylvania arrive to the church grounds on Tuesday, they found that someone had torn the church’s rainbow Pride flag off of its sign and smeared it with feces.
The church contacted the police. Though the flag has since been replaced, the vandalism is part of a pattern of anti-LGBTQ vandalism at the house of worship, which police are now investigating.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce that yesterday our St. Andrew’s Pride flag was destroyed,” the church announced in an Instagram post.
The post noted that the flag was only mounted upon the church’s sign after the repeated theft and vandalism of the church’s Pride lawn signs proclaiming “All Are Welcome.”
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“I wish I could say that this particular act of vandalism is an isolated incident – but it’s not,” the post continued. “This is happening at a time when our community is increasingly aware of our Pride signs and people are telling us of their appreciation for our public proclamation of God’s love.”
The church said that it would pray for individuals who reject its message of inclusion and resort to acts of vandalism. However, it also said that it would not allow such acts to intimidate the church from publicly proclaiming its commitment to “God’s love for all people.”
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Although Baptists, Methodists, and Catholics uniformly reject the sanctity of same-sex marriage and often use Bible verses to condemn LGBTQ people, many other religious denominations in the U.S. embrace queer people, including Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, and Evangelical Lutherans, the Pew Research Center reported.
A 2017 Pew report found that LGBTQ acceptance is increasing among members of different religious faiths. But this growing acceptance has “sparked a wave of backlash from the religious right,” NBC News reported, making queer Christians feel targeted despite increasing acceptance.
Naturally, this isn’t the first time that anti-LGBTQ vandals have targeted churches in the recent past. Earlier this month, a vandal tore down and burned a transgender pride flag from the front lawn of an LGBTQ-inclusive church outside of Boston. Police investigated it as a hate crime.
When a vandal spray painted a rainbow and trans pride flag outside of the Wicker Park Lutheran Church in Chicago, Illinois, the church responded by planting hundreds of flags near the spot where the two flags were defaced.