A United Methodist church in southwestern New Hampshire was defaced with racist and homophobic slurs twice in one week.
Based on the viral photos below, the church had installed a rainbow-colored sign outside of their house of worship that proclaimed the words “Diversity,” “Inclusivity,” Love and Life,” “Healing,” “Nature,” “Serenity,” Spirituality,” and one additional word that is illegible thanks to the hateful graffiti covering the rainbow-colored sign.
The church’s sign was splattered with black spray paint, while the Pride rainbow flag displayed behind plexiglass has been sprayed with a Confederate Rebel flag and the number 1488, a symbol of white supremacism, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
McKinney police are now investigating racist and threatening graffiti discovered at an entrance to Stonebridge United Methodist Church’s preschool. According to the authorities, a dumpster and plants were also set on fire.
The church’s lead pastor addressed what happened and how the church is responding.
“It makes me feel all kinds of things,” Jeff Lust said. “I feel distressed, I feel angry, I feel frustrated.”
He says early Sunday morning, before service began, a staff member discovered racist slurs, swastikas and the messages “Welcome skin king” and “Not my best work yet” smeared across an entrance to the church’s preschool, which was starting school the next day.
“I don’t know if that means they’re coming back,” he said. “I don’t know if it means they’re doing something like this somewhere else. We really don’t know.”
He said the community is disturbed and on edge. Stonebridge United Methodist Church has now been targeted by acts of hate twice. A similar incident occurred July 17th on an exterior wall. Police are investigating.
“I actually led a biblical racial reconciliation ministry in town and so when these things happen sometimes people will shoot it over to me,” Threaded Founder and CEO Markus Lloyd said.
Lloyd lives nearby and said his son attended the preschool.
“There’s a part of you that’s like it’s really not that surprising because this kind of thing is something that I’ve seen my whole life, but I think seeing it so close to home, having kids and family here, you start to create a bit of anxiety.”
City officials expressed outrage, calling the vandalism “incredibly sad.”
“This beautiful church is one of the places where such a disgusting act has taken place,” city officials said. “It’s abhorrent to damage a church sign that speaks of acceptance and inclusivity.”
Church member Jeanie Sy said the recent hateful action makes her “very sad.”
“In a city of 1,200 people, where our church is open to everyone, no matter who they are, that someone who has chosen to do this speaks to me [of] the underlying hatred people have for others and it’s discouraging,” Sy said.