Last week I wrote about using the wayside pulpit sign at UUFCM to announce events and to proclaim our values of love and justice in the world. Shortly after that, I saw an announcement from a UU colleague that their wayside pulpit had been vandalised.
This UU congregation was known in their community for being welcoming to people of all genders and sexualities, and the messages on their sign board stated as much. Just like ours. Their Sunday worship sometimes focussed on LGBTQ rights and dignity. Just like ours. The vandals spray-painted F*** the LGBT across the glass of the wayside pulpit.
The vandalism of signs that proclaim racial justice (usually Black Lives Matter) or LGBTQ justice (usually rainbow flags or signs) is nothing new. Today when I went looking for the Facebook announcement about this act of vandalism (to remind myself of the details), I found many other instances of UU churches–and other houses of worship–having their signs and banners and buildings vandalised. Religious leaders who post responses to these acts of vandalism often strike a balance of forgiveness and defiance: we forgive the person who acted out of hate; there is no way that we are going to let hatred and intimidation stop us from proclaiming and living out our values.
In the Water Ingathering service this past Sunday, I was delighted to share a video message from the national president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray. Her message emphasized the unity of Unitarian Universalists across this continent, connected by the water service that we perform around this time in the fall–and connected by the values of inclusion, diversity, and anti-oppression that define our religious movement. Because we dare to be known for these positions, we are united by being targets (or potential targets) of hatred and intimidation. May we be strengthened by our unity; may we steadfast in expressing our values and our love.
May the house of worship that suffered vandalism be blessed with recovery from this trauma; may the people be filled with resolve; may they be safe from further harm.
May the perpetrators of this vandalism be filled with loving kindness; may they be well; may they be whole; may they know love and forgiveness.
May it be so.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Rev. Andrew Frantz
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