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July 10, 2005

UCC Church Gets Vandalized Following Affirmation of Gay Marriage

The United Church of Christ is the first mainline protestant church to affirm the full civil and religious equality of same-gender marriage.  The General Synod of the church did so last week at their annual meeting.  Then yesterday they report that a UCC church in Staunton, Virginia, was vandalized with anti-gay graffiti. 

From Chuck Currie, a UCC seminarian with a blog, we get the story, first reported in the NewsLeader, a local newspaper out of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia:

A small fire was set in St. John’s Reformed United Church of Christ this morning and anti-gay graffiti was painted on the side of the building.

The outside of the church was vandalized with anti-gay messages and a declaration that United Church of Christ members were sinners. The graffiti’s message appeared to be a reference to the national church’s decision earlier this week to endorse gay and lesbian marriages.

The United Church of Christ’s General Synod voted Monday in Atlanta to approve a resolution that is accepting of gay and lesbian marriages but is not binding on local congregations.

A member of the congregation discovered the graffiti Saturday morning when he stopped by to mow the grass. He went into the church building, and when he opened the sanctuary there was still a small fire.

More on the story after the fold.

Currie goes on, talking about the hate crime aspects:

It is tragic that whoever committed this hate crime did so because they were misled into believing that supporting legal equality for gays and lesbians is sinful. It simply is not.

The rhetoric of the religious right and their allies in the political right – who claim that homosexuality is a sin – must take some of the responsibility for the increase in hate crimes such as this one.

Albert Mohler, the prominent Southern Baptist leader, has even compared legal and legislative decisions in support of gay marriage to the attacks against the United States on September 11th. People hear that kind of hateful preaching and believe they are acting as faithful Christians as they torch churches or beat up gays.

This is the same church that was rebuffed by both CBS and NBS last November when they asked to run ads welcoming all people to their churches.  Their ads, which included the words, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we" were described as being too controversial.  You may have seen the ads anyway since ABC and several cable stations did run the ads.   Note: Two other UCC churches were vandalized in the Shenandoah Valley after these ads were run.

UCC has a very nifty website and news updates on what they are up to.  They even had a blog for people to comment on the proceedings of the General Synod last week.  Not surprisingly the number of people looking to find out information about attending UCC churches is up. 

Via Talk to Action. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 10, 2005 at 09:39 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Hey... new visitor to your website... very nicely done.

This story reminded me about HB1515 which was defeated in the State Senate ealier this year. For those that don't remember, this bill would have added "sexual orientation" to our State's anti-discrimination laws. The bill was defeated by just one vote after two democrats defected and voted with every single GOP member of the Senate.

Personally, I think this vote represents a perfect opportunity to show the constituents in some of the "red-leaning" districts exactly how out of touch thier elected representatives are.

Immediately after the vote, I called my state Senator, Cheryl Pflug, and very politely asked why the Senator voted the way she did. Does my elected official think it's ok to discriminate against me when I go to buy a home, or obtain a loan? Can she explain what harm it would have done to make it illegal in our state to discriminate based on a persons sexual orientation?

Basically, I was told by the assistant that she could not speak for Cheryl, and didn't want to mis-state her position, but would be happy to send me a letter explaining her vote. I've yet to receive the Senator's letter, and I believe the reason is that Ms. Pflug knows her explanation would not fly with the increasingly progressive voters in the 8th District.

I made a promise to the assistant answering the phone in my Senator's office. I told her, in a very nice and polite way, that I needed to receive some sort of explanation, as I was a new voter in her district and would actively work to defeat her in the next election if she could not give me a reasonable explanation for her vote, or at least let me know her personal thoughts on this issue.

There are a lot of Churches in the Sammamish area, and there are a lot of progressive people and "fence sitters" that attend those churches. I wonder how my Senator would react to a professionally printed flyer, explaining Cheryl Pflug's vote on this issue, tucked neatly under the wiper of every car in the church parking lot (ala Rove tactic). How do you think people would react to this and do you think it might force a Senator such as Cheryl Pflug to reconsider her position when this vote comes up again?

Posted by: James | Jul 15, 2005 4:36:28 PM

James,

Interesting idea. I'd check out www.progressivemajoritywashington.org. This is a group that will be targeting Cheryl and other non-progressives next year. Might be worth getting involved in the campaign early. Other than that,let's see if anyone else has ideas. And I'll poke around amongst my political friends and see what they think. There must be a group out there who are focused on trying to pass this next session.

Posted by: Lynn | Jul 15, 2005 5:49:48 PM

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