Racially charged vandalism at Episcopal congregations in Maryland and Indiana have left some wondering if Nov. 8’s presidential election set loose a new wave of old hatred in America.
On Nov. 12 someone scrawled “Trump Nation” and “Whites Only” on a sign advertising a Spanish-language Eucharist at Church of Our Saviour in Silver Spring, Maryland. A wall in the parish’s memorial garden was defaced with the same message.
“I am heartsick, and can only imagine how the people of Our Saviour, one of the most culturally diverse parishes in the diocese, feel,” said the Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde, Bishop of Washington, via Facebook. Budde attended Our Saviour’s Spanish-language worship on Nov. 13 and invited other members of the diocese to stand in solidarity with the congregation.
The sign was cut in several places, WUSA-TV reported. No arrests have been made.
Vandals also struck at St. David’s in Bean Blossom, Indiana, about 40 miles south of Indianapolis. There, graffiti saying “Heil Trump” and “Fag Church” accompanied a spray-painted swastika. Parishioners found the graffiti when they arrived for church on Sunday, WTHR-TV reported.
“We don’t need to be moving forward with hate, and when it is presented to us, it’s an opportunity to witness,” said the Rev. Kelsey Hutto, priest-in-charge at St. David’s, in an interview with WTHR. “We don’t need to be moving forward with hate and when it is presented to us, it’s an opportunity to witness. It’s an opportunity to testify to the love of God.”
St. David’s and Our Savior were not the only churches to suffer vandalism in recent days. Members of Ward African Methodist Episcopal Church in Scottsville, Kentucky, came to worship on Sunday to find their building in disarray.
“They stole our sound system. … We had crosses and Bibles and everything and they just thrown them all of the floor,” treasurer Shirley Bunton told WBKO-TV. “And then they went on back in the office and proceeded to tear it up.”
Vandals have targeted other public buildings. Multiple incidents have been reported in South Philadelphia, where a storefront was painted with “sieg heil” and swastikas. In Wellsville, New York, the words “Make America White Again” with a swastika were painted on a wall at softball field. Reports of harassment are also up.
President-elect Donald Trump has condemned acts of harassment and vandalism. In an interview on 60 Minutes Nov. 13, Trump turned directly to the camera and said, “Stop it.”