Minn. Church Vandalized Multiple Times for Marriage Equality Support
An LGBT-friendly church in Maple Grove, Minn., (a town of 61,567 located just 17 miles north-west of Minneapolis) has been targeted by vandals multiple times over the past year because the church's officials support marriage rights for same-sex couples, NBC's Minneapolis affiliate news station KARE 11 reports.
The latest incident comes on June 30 when members of Pilgrims United Church of Christ discovered that the building was egged, handcuffs were locked on the front door, and graffiti covered the church. One of the messages written read, "Gay Pride? NO! Shameful Sodomites!"
This isn't the first time the church has been vandalized. On June 3, KARE 11 reported that the vandals attacked the church because of its support for LGBT rights, writing similar messages in graffiti, smashing eggs on the building and stealing a sign from the church's property.
"Violence or defaming someone's church is not a very Christian attitude," Karen Udstrand, a longtime member of the church told the news station. "It's very disappointing."
Pastor Robin Raudabagh said that Maple Grove is a progressive place and the act was "very hate-filled."
The church was targeted again last year and KARE11 reports that pro-gay marriage signs were stolen from the church's property.
"Some people wonder if our message is getting out," Raudabaugh said. "But this proves that people do hear us."
Maple Grove Police Captain Keith Terlinden said that police are conducting an "active" investigation and are hoping the public can help find the vandals.
"We are investigating this crime as a bias motivated crime. A hate crime is not necessarily a word we use in law enforcement, but we are investigating this as a bias motivated crime," he told CBS Minnesota.
Minnesota was the 12th state to legalize gay marriage, and passed the marriage equality bill earlier this year. It goes into effect on August 1. The Raw Story reports that officials from the Maple Grove church plan to hold same-sex ceremonies as soon as they can.