Vandals Strike Gay-Friendly Christian Church For A Third Time

The United Church of Christ welcomes everyone. I guess that is what makes hateful people target their churches.. Image @GLAAD

The United Church of Christ welcomes everyone. I guess that is what makes hateful people target their churches.. Image @GLAAD

Pilgrims United Church of Christ in Maple Grove, Minnesota is one of those increasingly rare and welcome institutions: a progressive Christian church. As a member of the United Church of Christ, they are welcoming to all people, regardless of race or sexual preference. In fact the UCoC was the first Christian association to ordain blacks, women and gays into their priesthood. You may have seen one of their ads, at least one of which has been banned. Their motto is, “God is still speaking.”

If that’s true, then God is probably using some naughty words about this latest act of vandalism against the PUCoC. Last week, someone took the liberty of displaying their opinion on the side of the church sanctuary. “Gay Pride? NO! Shameful Sodomites!” greeted the congregants as they arrived for Sunday services on July 2nd. The front doors of the church were sporting a pair of handcuffs and the windows had been egged.

This is not the first time the building has been targeted. In June, it was egged and someone wrote “church of Sodom and Gomorrah” on one exterior wall. Only a day later there was more egging. The Maple Grove police are certain that the vandalism stems from the church making it known that they will be performing same-sex marriages starting on August 1 (Minnesota passed a marriage equality law in May).

Local authorities are asking for help from residents. Maple Grove Police Captain Keith Terlinden told reporters:

“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.”

Well, okay, as long as they take into account that the vandalism was driven by bigotry, I don’t care what they call it.

The Maple Grove PUCoC is a “Just Peace” church. This means that they work to bring about the biblical vision of shalom: “wholeness, healing, justice, righteousness, equality, unity, freedom, and community.” They are also an Earthwise church, meaning that they follow the dictate of God as stewards of the earth. They practice green as well as speak it.

Several years ago I was a member of our county chapter of The Interfaith Alliance, eventually becoming the president of our group. It wasn’t a very big group: a Jew, a Wiccan (me) and a handful of Christians. All of the Christians in that group were from the local UCoC. These people were the model of Christ’s teachings and I hold all others up to their example – which is why I call those who fall desperately short (*cough* religious right *cough*) “Pseudo-Christians.” The United Church of Christ welcomes everyone. I guess that is what makes hateful people target their churches. Because if they can’t egg the guy who taught acceptance, at least they can egg – and spray paint – the sanctuary of people who actually practice what he taught.