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Local congregation hit with message of hate

Overnight July 6, graffiti with markings of hate crimes was written on the signs and windows of Grace Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Apple Valley, Minnesota. The graffiti was discovered when the church staff arrived on the morning of July 7, and the police were immediately notified.
Red paint, profane words, and Stars of David were used to vandalize the building. Pastors John Matthews and Therese Helker believe that the recently installed “SaveDarfur” banner was less provocative than the words “Auschwitz-Bosnia-Rwanda” that were intended to inspire people to live-out the “never again” resolve after those 20th century genocides. “Whenever the Star of David or a Nazi swastika are used to vandalize, it is usually a hate-crime response against Jews,” said Matthews.

Red paint, profane words, and stars of David were used to vandalize the building.

“I urge you to pray for those who express themselves through acts of racism, hatred, and violence, that their hearts and minds may be turned to repentance and love of neighbor,” wrote Helker, in an e-mail to the congregation following the vandalism.
Grace Lutheran Church has yet to decide its response or future direction regarding advocacy against genocide. As a congregation, they have often been involved in interfaith conversation and activity with Jews and Muslims, as well as education and advocacy. “Such an unfortunate occurrence witnesses to the ongoing reality of bigotry and hatred, and the need for education and advocacy,” explained Matthews.

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