Members of a Brown County, Indiana church say they will not paint over or wash off the hateful anti-gay messages swastikas that was tagged on the LGBT accepting church for several weeks attempting to turn the hateful message into a message of love and acceptance by allowing the community to see it on their walls.
“We could be angry, we could be embarrassed, we could be hurt,” said Reverend Kelsey Hutto of St. David’s Episcopal Church, “But the fact of the matter is those are on our walls because we’re doing the right thing. And we choose to look at them as symbols of hope. This was meant to cause divisiveness, this was meant to cause hatred, and we’re not falling into that trap. We’re responding with love and we’re going to use those images as images of hope.”
The spray painted graffiti was discovered early Sunday morning. The tagging included a swastika, the phrase “Heil Trump,” and an a message saying “Fag Church”. Hutto believes her church was targeted because the Episcopal church recognizes same-sex marriage.
Hutto believes leaving the graffiti up for several weeks will allow members of the community to recognize why the church was targeted. The symbols of hate could be transformed into a beacon for those searching for a welcoming place to worship, she said.
“If anybody in the surrounding area feels like they need a safe haven, we are that place,” Hutto said. “And if it takes somebody tagging our church for that to happen, then we’re okay with that.”
Indiana State Police are urging Hoosiers to report hate crime cases to authorities because the information is forwarded to the FBI and other Federal agencies that track all hate crimes.
“Some of these hate groups, they may travel from state to state,” said Indiana State Police Trooper Nick Klingkammer. “And being at the federal level, they can cross those state boundaries and enforce that.”