Church takes unique approach to vandalism incident

Monday, November 18, 2019
News 12 at 5 and 6 o'clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- A local church is taking a unique approach after getting vandalized.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta says they will purposely keep the graffiti up for at least a week to give people time to come look at it. They will also use it as part of their conversation about acceptance and compassion.

"It's important for the people of our community to know that this exists, to take a stand," said Church President Andy Reese.

The graffiti at the church depicts crossed-out Jewish Star's of David and a message that read "God will not be mocked." Interestingly, while the graffiti had antisemitic overtones, the church is based in Christianity.

Reverend Don Cameron says he is very proud of the way his congregation is handling this. He says they have stayed true to their principles and are determined to continue spreading their message of inclusion.

"We learned we're not scared. It's made us stronger. It's reminded us why we're here and what we represent and how we can Augusta be a better place to live," said Cameron.

Georgia is one of four states (including South Carolina) that does not have hate crime laws.

"By not having that, we are tacitly saying that hate crimes are not particularly serious," said Reese.

Regardless, Rev. Cameron says he, nor other members of the church, are angry with the person who did this.

"We have no malice towards anyone and we're sorry that it happened but we have no anger," he said.

Because of Unitarian Universalist's support for the LGBTQ community and other progressive causes, Reese says he had a feeling something like this would happen eventually.

"It's something that's not unexpected, but certainly not welcome," he said. "It's the nature of the times."

Now, both Reese and Rev. Cameron want to invite the vandal to the church to see what they're all about. They say they do not even ask the vandal to confess, rather he can show up anonymously.

"We would love to have you. We are a welcoming congregation. Everybody is welcome. When we say we respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person, there are no exceptions. We mean every person," said Reese.

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office is investigating this incident. The church does have a security camera, but because it is facing a street lamp, Reese says there is a bad glare and they have not yet been able to make out the identity of the suspect.

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