Media roundup: Indiana town unites to oppose hate in response to vandalism

Media roundup: Indiana town unites to oppose hate in response to vandalism

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

Rachel Walden


The morning after hosting a “Resistance Fair” tied to the anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration, members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tippecanoe County in West Lafayette, Indiana, found banners with offensive slurs hanging outside their building. The FBI are investigating it as a hate crime and local authorities are exploring possible connections to flyers that papered the town supporting the Ku Klux Klan. ( USA Today- 1.22.18)

In the wake of the vandalism at the Tippecanoe congregation, church member Eric Thiel attended a hearing on bias crime legislation currently under consideration in the state, called Senate Bill (SB) 418. Indiana is one of five states without a hate crime law. SB 418 would allow judges to weigh everything from race and sex to gender identity and sexual orientation as aggravating circumstances in sentencing a criminal defendant. “I’m a straight, white male. I feel comfortable everywhere. Nobody is attacking me,” Thiel said at the hearing. “All I want is for everybody else in the state to feel as comfortable as I do.” ( 1.23.18)

Because one of the banners hung on the Tippecanoe church referenced January 23 and Jackson Browne, who was holding a concert in Orlando, Florida, on that date, there was heightened security for the concert when it occurred. Local police provided an increased presence at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, where the concert was held without incident last Tuesday. ( Orlando Sentinel- 1.25.18)

The community in West Lafayette swarmed the Unitarian Universalist congregation when they held an event to show their unity in response to the vandalism. The sanctuary was filled by an overflow crowd who were eager to share a message of love and welcome and to let the congregation know that they are not alone. ( Journal & Courier - 1.24.18)

More coverage:

“Bangert: Those KKK fliers in downtown Lafayette? This guy delivered them” ( Journal & Courier- 1.23.18)

“Editorial Board: On the relevance of free speech” ( The Exponent- 1.25.18)

“‘Not here, not now and never again’: community responds with love and unity after vandalism at church” ( The Exponent- 1.25.18)

UUs in Virginia respond to legal change allowing guns in church

The Virginia state Senate recently approved a measure repealing the current state law forbidding licensed gun owners from carrying firearms in places of worship. Unitarian Universalist minister, the Rev. David Miller of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, said that having guns is the antithesis of the Christian message of peace, but he could see the wisdom in having a security guard with a gun outside. ( 1.24.18)

When the Republican-controlled state Senate recently voted to repeal a law prohibiting weapons in places of worship, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Ben Chafin said the effort was a response to the flood of requests he has received from local law enforcement and faith leaders who wanted to carry their weapons in church. Allen Perry, president of the Unitarian Church in Norfolk, however, worries about public safety: “What happens when we do have an active shooter in a church and three civilians who have who knows what kind of training . . . start firing off rounds in a crowded sanctuary? How many innocent people are going to be killed by that?” ( 13 News Now- 1.25.18)

UUs across the country joined anniversary Women’s Marches

The Rev. Robin Tanner, the minister of worship and outreach at the Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, New Jersey, spoke to the crowd gathered at a Women’s March interfaith companion event in Trenton. She reflected that she had been a rule-follower as a divinity student at Harvard University, but less than a decade later, she is now a veteran activist. “Justice is not an activity. It is who we are called to be in these times as people of faith if we are to move forward together,” declared Tanner. ( New Jersey Jewish News- 1.24.18)

The Rev. Kristen Harper of the Unitarian Church of Barnstable, Massachusetts spoke at the Cape and Islands Women’s March that ran through downtown Hyannis last weekend. “We are not second-class citizens. We will not be ignored. We will no longer be silenced. We will no longer allow our bodies to be violated and our cries for justice to be ignored,” affirmed Rev. Harper. ( Cape Cod Times- 1.21.18)

More coverage:

“Second annual Jackson Women's March rallies for change” ( The Conway Daily Sun- 1.22.18)

“LA women lined up for Santa Fe March” ( Los Alamos Monitor- 1.24.18)

“Hundreds join Southern Illinois Women's March” (Du Quoin Call -- 1.22.18)