Media roundup: UU congregations across the country experience vandalism, hate speech

Media roundup: UU congregations across the country experience vandalism, hate speech

A weekly guide to stories about Unitarian Universalists from other media sources.

Rachel Walden


Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship in Bellingham, Washington, has been vandalized twice in the span of a month. Earlier this week, anti-LGBTQ language was written in chalk on its sidewalks, and in late July a case holding slogans supporting black lives and immigrants was smashed. The town’s police have also received five reports of vandalism involving hate speech in the week following the tragic violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. ( Bellingham Herald– 8.25.17)

In Lutherville, Maryland, the rainbow-colored sign expressing support for black lives, immigrants, and others, which was displayed near the front door of Towson Unitarian Universalist Church was ripped down. This is the sixth time the congregation has had an exterior banner vandalized in addition to having two instances of white men coming to the church to harshly express their opposition to the signs. The events have rattled members, in particular the church’s administrator: “Absolutely, I’m worried,” said Kai Aiyetoro. “It scares me every time because it refers to Black Lives Matter, and I’m the only black person here except for one other person.” ( Baltimore Brew– 8.23.17)

The Black Lives Matter sign at the Unitarian Society of New Haven in Hamden, Connecticut, was not only torn, but the word “black” was cut and folded down so that the white backing showed in its place. The Rev. Megan Lloyd Joiner, minister of the congregation, noted in response to the vandalism, “We are thinking about the connection in the past few weeks. Our hearts are with the people of Charlottesville.” ( New Haven Register– 8.20.17)

After individuals took down and destroyed Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation’s rainbow flag in Bowling Green, Ohio, the congregation’s minister was tipped off by a local teen who saw images of the flag on Snapchat. "We are saddened that kids that age would think to do such a thing and have that anger and hatred," said the Rev. Lynn Kerr. ( WTOL– 8.18.17)

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno, California, are ready to replace two Black Lives Matter banners that were vandalized earlier this week. The banners were initially hung a week ago, after the church had completed two years of discernment and recently voted to hang the signs. They’ll leave the vandalized banners up until they can replace them, so the public can see them. ( Fresno Bee– 8.23.17)

More coverage:

“John Stoehr: Black Lives Matter is really an aspirational message” ( New Haven Register– 8.24.17)

“Rossford senior responds to news of flag desecration with activist spirit” ( Sentinel-Tribune– 8.25.17)