On Sunday, members of Pilgrims United Church of Christ in Maple Grove, Minnesota were met with eggs splattered on the windows of the church and Bible passages that are often used to condemn LGBT people scrawled across the exterior walls. Of the 135 UCC churches in Minnesota, the Maple Grove congregation is the only reported incident of LGBT related vandalism in the state. This is the third incident of LGBT-related vandalism for the church.
Pilgrims United Church of Christ is a self-proclaimed open and affirming congregation, meaning that the congregation is dedicated to the ideology that truly all are welcome in the name of Christ. The church has a history of vocal support to the LGBT community. The staff of the church feels that the incidents of vandalism are directly related to their stance on marriage equality and equality for the LGBT community.
In a video from the local news station KARE , long-time member Karen Udstrand points out that, "defaming someone's church is not a very Christian attitude," in response to the fact that Bible verses were used to defile the churches outer walls.
The words, "the church of Sodom and Gomorrah," is an oft-cited passage used to condemn gay people as vicious and attacking. However, later within scripture, it is revealed that the "sin of Sodom" was inhospitality to those who were different. The scripture Leviticus 18:22 was found written on the church as well – a verse that states in the King James edition, "thou shalt not lie with mankind as with woman kind: it is abomination."
These two references are some of the most quoted in anti-LGBT hate speech, though many Biblical experts argue that the context of these two Biblical occurrences have changed, as should the interpretation of these passages. The Bible also encourages slavery, and bans things such as wearing garments of different threads and working on the Sabbath.
Pastor Robin Raudabaugh who was voted Maple Grove's best pastor in 2012 says that even though her time at Pilgrims United Church of Christ is coming to an end in the last week of June, that, "the good folks of Pilgrims UCC have every intention of continuing to be a voice, presence, and place where everyone including all LGBT folks are welcomed, affirmed and celebrated within the ministry of the church." There are no plans for increased security because the church would much rather focus their energy on, "being the best most inclusive church," they can be.
There is no video footage of the vandalism occurring, so police have agreed to keep a more alert watch over the congregation's building in an attempt to prevent this from happening again. In the meantime, church volunteers are cleaning up the mess.
The anti-gay industry has been quick to portray themselves as 'victim' in the debate over LGBT equality. Within the past month, there has been 12 attacks on LGBT people in New York City, with one fatality. Other pro-LGBT churches have been vandalized as well. The media needs to remember that attacks against the LGBT community and their allies are real, and cause real harm to people.