Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Graffiti vandals strike churches

July 31, 2007


Local churches vandalized

Vandals targeted local churches over the weekend, leaving behind mysterious marks on the buildings. Enlarge video

Church members cleaned up Monday following a weekend wave of vandalism that damaged eight Lawrence churches of various denominations.

The churches, located predominantly on Lawrence's west side, had graffiti spray painted on doors, exterior walls and trash bins late Saturday and early Sunday morning.

The churches damaged include:

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3615 W. 10th St.
  • Faith Church of the Nazarene, 1020 Kasold Drive.
  • Westside Presbyterian Church, 1024 Kasold Drive.
  • First Southern Baptist Church, 4300 W. Sixth St.
  • St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, 5700 W. Sixth St.
  • Free Methodist Church, 3001 Lawrence Ave.
  • Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2700 Lawrence Ave.
  • Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 6001 Bob Billings Parkway.

At several of the churches, the graffiti was illegible, including at First Southern Baptist, where Scott Seratte spent Monday morning cleaning paint from the church he's belonged to for more than 30 years.

"Nobody really understood what it was there for," Seratte said of the congregation's reaction Sunday. "I guess that it's a good thing that (the vandals) didn't get their message across."

At Faith Church of the Nazarene, silver, black and blue graffiti covered the north and east walls of the church.

Blue spray paint ran along the doors of Free Methodist Church's main entrance. An exterior wall of the church's youth wing, scheduled to open this fall, also was damaged.

"I was surprised to hear that many churches got hit in Lawrence," said the Rev. Bill Bump, pastor at Free Methodist Church. "I obviously think they had some type of animosity toward churches."

Police are investigating. "I can't say that they are related; what I can say is that we are investigating that possibility because they happened about and around the same time," said police spokeswoman Kim Murphree.

The damage estimates ranged from $30 to $600.

Lawrence police Sgt. Paul Fellers asked that anyone with information concerning the vandalism call police dispatch at 832-7509 or 843-TIPS.


Crossfire 10 years, 10 months ago

The students are back... Drive careful...

PapaB 10 years, 10 months ago

There's a special little place in you-know-where for people who vandalize churches. Maybe they spread it out to make sure they hit just the right one.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 10 months ago

This is a hate crime and should be treated as such.

LogicMan 10 years, 10 months ago

"At several of the churches, the graffiti was illegible"

But where it was, it said ... ? Might help us while we're on the look-out.

Angie Evers 10 years, 10 months ago

I can't view the 6news video at work (grrr)....but the picture looks a lot like a fresh tag that I saw this morning that said "BEAST" on the back of a sign at Inverness & 24th Place.

Someone was very busy last night. Idiots.

bangaranggerg 10 years, 10 months ago

Why can't they say they are related? Is it because it would be like calling us stupid for not knowing that these are related? From what I heard it said things like "Who would Jesus bomb", stalin, sheep, resist, judge not... It was probably this dummy's first time and hopefully his last. Probably some of the stupidest graffiti you could imagine.

alm77 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm pretty sure the one I drove by said "damnation" and I saw a skull, but I wouldn't swear to it.

Angie Evers 10 years, 10 months ago

Never mind what I said about "beast." I pulled in on my way by, and it says "resist."

And it looked like a 3rd grader wrote it.


Crossfire 10 years, 10 months ago

War protest is not a hate crime. War is a crime of hate. And really doubt that anybody is going to go "you-know-where" for paint.

alm77 10 years, 10 months ago

"War protest is not a hate crime. War is a crime of hate. And really doubt that anybody is going to go "you-know-where" for paint."

No, war protest isn't a crime, but vandalism is.

Not all Christians are pro war, so why single them out for your "protest"? Maybe cause you hate them?

PapaB 10 years, 10 months ago

"And really doubt that anybody is going to go "you-know-where" for paint."

Wow, people are quick to trivialize vandalism. I doubt the churches are going to pursue vindication (it would be bad press), but just as going to church reaps you rewards in heaven and not on earth, I believe these vandals will reap what they've sown.

Also, I hope we're not all so far gone to realize that desecrating a building dedicated to God is quite a bit worse than desecrating just any building. I'm sure Crossfire would feel differently if it was their house this happened to.

Sigmund 10 years, 9 months ago

So I wonder if little anarchist Johnny has his friends drive him out of town to buy his spray paint, or if he buys local?

hberciunas 10 years, 9 months ago

Greetings all,

I am a co-pastor at one of the churches hit. We are considering leaving most of the legible comments up - at least for awhile.

I have been posting on the other thread concering this same story. Just found this thread today.

Some of us don't see these as "hate crimes." We think they are more out of anger - anger at the church and/or at God. We are pretty sure God can take anyone's rants (see the Psalms). And if the rebukes are toward the church, maybe we should evaluate - and we have been, and will continue to ask ourselves these same questions. In fact, the most legible are actual quotes from Jesus: "Judge not" and "Love thine enemies" (note the use of the old King James language - someone has been to church). The third meaningful legible comment was: "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" A good question for us to ask . . .

Some of us have seen these acts as prayers. The vandals came to churches - the symbolic places of God - and they have voiced thier opinions and feelings. That sure sounds like prayer to us.

We are open to dialogue and are searching for better ways to represent Jesus in Lawrence and in our world.

Grace and Peace,

Sigmund 10 years, 9 months ago

So these aren't hate crimes, nope they are "anger crimes." You must have a your masters degree in rhetoric as well as divinity because I fail to see any real distinction. But at least we agree they are crimes. I don't attend any religious service and haven't for years and part of the reason is this limp wristted bend over and take it on the other cheek pacifist attitudes.

redwaggoner 10 years, 9 months ago

Are we sure that these vandals are "kids"? They could range in age anywhere from 5-50. All they are really showing is their STUPIDITY! Whether vandalizing God's temple or a private/public building, if this is all they can think of to passify thewir idle minds and hands, I'm sure the US Armed Forces could find a bettter way to occupy their minds/hands. Whether that job be on the battlefield or in a non-combantant position, Uncle Sam needs them!

Sigmund 10 years, 9 months ago

BTW, it is against the city of Lawrence code to allow graffiti to remain upon your church.

14-1003 GRAFFITI DECLARED A PUBLIC NUISANCE; PROPERTY OWNERS DUTY TO REMOVE GRAFFITI. The existence of graffiti upon any structural component of any building, wall, fence, sidewalk, curb, or structure or other facility on public or private property with the City of Lawrence, Kansas is declared to be a public nuisance and it shall be the duty of the property owner with property defaced by graffiti to remove, abate, or cover such graffiti. In cases where the property owner claims that the graffiti was authorized by the property owner, the public officer shall make findings whether the graffiti is a neighborhood blight and public nuisance findings are made, the graffiti shall constitute a public nuisance and it shall be the duty of the property owner to remove, abate, or cover such graffiti. Graffiti shall be subject to abatement and removal by the City as provided by law. (Ord. 6782)

PapaB 10 years, 9 months ago

hberciunas, apparently the graffiti has to be removed if your church abides by the laws of our city. As a fellow Christian (whose church was also vandalized), I can see your points, but wholeheartedly disagree with any approach that involves "turning the other cheek" in this situation. I equate this one to Jesus throwing the money-changers out of the temple. They need to know this is not tolerated or accepted, so it's less likely to happen again.

Crossfire 10 years, 9 months ago

If hberciunas and his bunch decide to take the approach that the painting is Street Art or a Statement of Descent and as such used to open discussion about The War, well alright. Then maybe it should stay up a while.

David Rahija 10 years, 9 months ago

It would be in the best interest of the church to get this cleaned up as soon as possible. The longer the grafitti remains the more damage it's going to cause the the ideology that the church is a place for perfect people, and we can't have that happen.

On the flip side, maybe a little grafitti is exactly what the church building needs. Something that stands out as a reminder that the world is made up of imperfect people, and just as our building isn't perfect, neither are the people inside.

I believe one of the biggest disservices that the church has done for people is to build up an image of being pristine. How many Christians live two lives, one life they live at church or around their church friends, and the other that they live at home, or work. It's time to put down the mask, to be a bit vulnerable and let the world know that the church isn't perfect, in fact, the church is just as screwed up as the rest of the world.

I say, let the grafiti stay!


Sigmund 10 years, 9 months ago

Crossfire, it is really hard to take you seriously when you write "Statement of Descent" when obviously you meant "Statement of Dissent." is your friend.

David, the greatest difference I have found between people of faith (Christian, Jews, Muslims) and non-believers is not in their actions but in their willingness to TRY and live to a higher standard, even if not actually attaining it. It is their awareness of their own faults, recognition of a higher standard, and ATTEMPT to live that standard that allows them to slowly begin to live the life they would like, with both success and failures.

On the other hand, non-believers are relieved of being labeled "hypocrites" as their standard is themselves, faults and all. No attempt at higher standards and so no failures. "I'm a selfish, immature, SOB and I will steal you blind, but I'm not a hypocrite. Hooray!"

I have found, as a general rule, that while not perfect, people of faith, striving to live a faithful life, are better people (even if they fail perfection) and live fuller lives, than non-believers. Your mileage may vary!

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