Homophobic decals affixed to Vineyard churches

Island Clergy Council denounces ‘hateful words and acts.’

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Three Vineyard churches that conspicuously hang the LGBTQ pride flag have been tagged with homophobic decals in recent months, according to church leaders.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Island Clergy Council decried what they described as “hate stickers,” and further condemned the defacement of an Israeli flag with a swastika and hate numerals that occurred just after Yom Kippur at the Falmouth Jewish Congregation. The Unitarian-Universalist Church was tagged “a month ago,” according to the Rev. Bill Clark. The United Methodist Church in the Oak Bluffs Campground was tagged twice, according to Pastor Hyuk Seonwoo — “around” Sept. 20 and “around” Oct. 8. The First Congregational Church in West Tisbury was tagged in mid-October, according to West Tisbury Police. Against a rainbow background, the decals read, “Whatever God calls ‘sin’ is nothing to be proud of. Isaiah 3:9,” Pastor Seonwoo said. 

“This is unacceptable regardless of how one feels about homosexuality,” the Rev. Stephen Harding of Grace Church in Vineyard Haven said. “This is an act of hatred.” Pastor Harding’s church wasn’t tagged, but he told The Times he stands with his fellow council members. “Actions and words matter,” he said. 

“It just reminded me there’s a lot of work we’ve yet to do about homophobia,” Clark told The Times. Clark said the decal wasn’t the first time a homophobic act was visited on his church. 

“Two years ago we had our rainbow flag ripped down,” he said. 

The community support the church received afterward was “wonderful,” he said, and he added that he and his flock were undaunted: “Of course we just bought a bigger flag.”

Rabbi Caryn Broitman of the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center said there’s a climate of less tolerance afoot. “We teach that everybody is in the image of God — even when we don’t agree with each other,” she said. She also said words or acts against any one group do “affect everybody.”

“There’s so much goodwill and good feeling on the Island,” she said. “And we want to strengthen that. It only takes a very small group to put that off-balance.”

In its statement, the Island Clergy Council deplored what it perceived as an uptick in hate that may herald violence. 

“We issue the following statement as leaders in the Martha’s Vineyard Faith Community in response to the recent rise in incidences of hateful words and acts against our neighbors, including people of color, immigrants, Jews, and the LGBTQ community,” the council wrote. “We speak in response to the recent desecration of the Israeli flag at the Falmouth Jewish Congregation in Falmouth, and in response to the anti-gay hate stickers that have been placed on several Island houses of worship that fly the rainbow flag: We state unequivocally that we and our various religious traditions are united against hatred and discrimination, and that we stand together in respecting the dignity of every human being. We make this statement in our current climate of rancor and divisiveness that many of us have not seen since the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. We are deeply concerned by the erosion of civility and the current trend that relegates those who disagree to a demonized other, one whose voice and opinions are not worth listening to. We are as concerned and more by the motivations and actions of those who have taken their ideology to the next step of doing harm to others through their speech or actions. We acknowledge that people, often religiously or ideologically motivated, may disagree and hold differing views concerning the beliefs and actions of others.”

Oak Bluffs Police are delving into the matter, according to Lt. Tim Williamson, who said he spoke with Pastor Seonwoo Wednesday morning, and expects to receive a copy of the decal shortly. Williamson said both incidents were reported to Oak Bluffs Police. He said he is unsure why further action wasn’t taken previously, but said a case was opened Wednesday. He also said he informed Seonwoo it’s an arrestable offense for someone to tag a church with any sticker, let alone one of the type described.

Clark said he did not inform Tisbury Police of the incident. Upon learning of the matter on Wednesday, Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio said he was dispatching an officer to investigate the matter. 

West Tisbury Police have also launched an investigation. “We’re in contact with the church about the issue,” Police Chief Matt Mincone said. Mincone said the church did not reach out to police on the subject, but the police department contacted the church after after an inquiry on the subject by The Times. The Rev. Cathlin Baker did not return calls seeking comment. 

Rabbi Broitman said a message the Vineyard should be reminded of, a message she finds uplifting each time she drives past it, can be found on the fence of the Tisbury School. It reads, “Unity.”

 

49 COMMENTS

  1. Unlike most such signs, everything in this one is spelled correctly. Even “Isaiah”! That should narrow the suspect pool substantially.

  2. I’m not religious and don’t care about other’s sexuality or gender identification nor do I condone graffiti but when a church participates in this type of virtue signaling and seems to be mocking other religions’ beliefs they should expect some type of push back. Religious tolerance means to accept the right of others to have differing opinions whether you consider them pleasant or not.

    • Welcoming all is considered virtue signaling? I guess it is, to fake Christians who feel the need to be a judge of others.

      • No, welcoming all is a virtue, hanging a big flag to convince others of your virtue is virtue signaling. If one needs to advertise what a good person they are then it seems odds are good they probably aren’t all that virtuous, especially when their actions have the effect of mocking other’s religious beliefs.

        • That’s not what they are “advertising”. What they are “advertising” is that… “our various religious traditions are united against hatred and discrimination, and that we stand together in respecting the dignity of every human being”. But I get it, fake Christians have a problem with that and like to judge others when they feel threatened by differences. You’ve made yourself crystal clear.

          • It would be beneficial I think if you read and processed comments before responding. As I mentioned I am not religious so I’m sure you can place the “fake Christian” moniker on me. It’s my understanding that there are some religions that don’t embrace the LGBTQ community. So wouldn’t the hanging of the LGBT flag at a church be counter to ” respecting the dignity of every human being”?

        • Bs– how would the hanging of an LGBT flag be any more counter to ” respecting the dignity of every human being” Than placing a cross ( which btw is symbolic of a barbaric practice to inflict the most pain and suffering on people while being murdered– torture for short ) , a manger scene or officially sanctioning “festivals” where people sing praises to a guy that died 2000 years ago, but is venerated as some sort of “god”. I personally don’t feel very respected when some ‘true christian” informs me that I will spend eternity in hell because I don’t believe that what they think is true . And let me be clear– it’s not because of anything I have done–it is because (they claim) I have not accepted their savior as mine. I am sure Andrew will confirm this —
          And they have the audacity to knock on my door to tell me this— Fortunately, I have “the gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” to hold up and attempt to convert them to the truth. The last time a family of Jehovah’s knocked on my door, we had a nice conversation.. I don’t think I converted the adults, but the 10 year old or so boy seemed pretty interested in what I was preaching.. perhaps he was so indoctrinated there is little hope to save him, but, at least I tried. As his parents do– And for that, I give them my respect

          • Dondondon. Here are some cliff notes on salvation. God is separated from us due to our sin nature. He sent Jesus to die for us as a substitute for our sin. If we believe that we have everlasting life. If we reject that we perish. I didn’t say that —- the Bible says it and billions believe it.
            Many people preach certain things and we can believe or reject. We have free will and should not be vilified.

    • bs– please clarify what you mean by “virtue signaling”.
      And how is welcoming people who choose to love who they love, or understand their true gender identity “mocking other religious beliefs”. If you want to talk about “mocking” we can have a pretty deep discussion about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I am an ordained minister of that faith , and have experienced plenty of “mocking”

      • Your frequent comments leave little doubt that you’d be a member of that faith. Again I’m not religious yet support your right to be a Flying Spaghetti Monster follower and support your right to believe whatever they believe yet I do encourage you to reduce your intake of carbs for health reasons. But again that’s your right and I wan’t hang any “no place for carbs” signs in my front yard.

        • BS– Followers of the FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster) refer to themselves as Pastafarians, just fyi .
          And I really do appreciate that you capitalized the name of the noodely one. — Andrew take notice..

    • One person’s faith is another person’s cult. I thought it was god that was supposed to judge people, not other people.

      • Jackie, if we didn’t judge people our prisons would be empty. The scripture you reference is that we shouldn’t judge with some kind of self righteousness. We shouldn’t see the splinter in someones eye if we don’t see the log in our own eye. You should write G_d and you should capitalize.

        • Andrew– the word “god” is a noun, and should not be capitalized, since it is not identifying a specific entity.
          Now if you are referring to a specific god, Like Zeus, or Vishnu , then it is appropriate to capitalize.

      • There you go, Andrew, likening judging criminals to people who have committed no crime, except in the mind of bigots and zealots and cultists. You don’t get to tell various churches what to do and you don’t get to tell me how I should write god. I don’t tell you what you should do, though I could definitely make a few suggestions.

    • One person’s property is not another person’s property to deface. The safety and security of one person’s home, either spiritual or physical, is not the purview of another person to disturb or diminish.

  3. I dont support any attack on churches. At the same time Churches should avoid any advocacy other than ”believing in Jesus Christ as ones savior”. I am certain that if those three churches hung signs that said ”heterosexual awareness week” they would be pilloried by some.

    • Careful Andrew. That borders on hate speech. Then again there wouldn’t be a LGBQT community without heterosexuals would there.

    • there you go again,Andrew– telling us what the liberals would do.. How about sticking to what the “conservatives” have actually done. In case you haven’t noticed, liberals have no problem with heterosexuals. I have never heard of a case where a heterosexual person was murdered, assaulted, or harassed for being attracted to a person of the opposite sex .

      • dondondon you are way off point. No one is suggesting that homosexuals should be attacked of vilified or murdered. This is a church that has an agenda in supporting LGBTQ and someone didnt like it so they made a scriptural quote. The bible does not support homosexuality whether you like it or not. I would not have put up that sign but you know as well as I do that if the shoe were on the other foot a church would get blasted also. If the Church put up a sign saying ”abortion kills an innocent child” there would be pushback. Jackie I do not tell churches what they should do. I have internal opinions. For thousands of years the main purpose of a church was to lead others to Christ and to disciple the body. Not to get into politics.

        • You make an excellent point about why it is so stupid to quote your bible to make a political point, Andrew. And yeah, you did tell churches what to do:

          “Churches should avoid any advocacy other than ”believing in Jesus Christ as ones savior”.” ~Quote from Andrew

          Tell us again how and why you happened to use criminals in prison as a comparison of why judgement of others is what you do, especially against the LGBTQ community, many of whom believe in the same god you do.

    • Andrew thinks he gets to tell all the churches what to do and what to advocate for. See numbers 4, 7, and 8 on that list cult indoctrination symptoms. Shabbat shalom, Andrew.

  4. “Andrew– the word ‘god’ is a noun, and should not be capitalized, since it is not identifying a specific entity.”

    Rich irony indeed, considering a majority of the author’s posts from this forum are littered with grammatical inconsistencies and/or spelling errors.

    Hope this helps!

    • sunshine– We is all not perfect in grammer and spellin’ .
      But I no thet god is a nounn and ain’t suposed to bee capped .. I lernt that in thurd graid..
      And my punctuation sucks also– who uses dashes between points ? — for instance ?? And do 2 question marks make a question more inquisitive ?
      Perhaps you could make a case as to why you think it proper to capitalize a common noun, rather than be the grammar Police here.

    • Sunshine: The god of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims is often referred to, or addressed as, “God.” So while god is a common noun, it can be used as a proper noun in that context. It is capitalized when referring to a specific deity but not capitalized when for example ”you shall have no other gods before me”.Jews particularly secular Jews usually spell it G_d. Many practicing Jews write “G-d” instead of God to prevent others from desecrating the name of God. Jews believe that it is acceptable to spell out God in places where it will not be disrespected, such as in the Torah.

      • “Andrew– the word ‘god’ is a noun, and should not be capitalized, since it is not identifying a specific entity.”

        Rich irony indeed, considering a majority of the author’s posts from this forum are littered with grammatical inconsistencies and/or spelling errors.
        Hope this helps!

        #8@9sHq&aCCr7r@K

        dondondon,

        I guess you missed my point. Let me clarify. Most know the words which you authored and I originally commented on, ring true. However, you are hardly one to be correcting others, regarding grammar and/or spelling, as is evidenced by your own postings here in this forum.
        Please see my original post.

        Again, hope this helps! :-^

        Andrew,

        I guess you missed my point. My fault. Let me clarify. Most know the words which dondondon authored and I originally commented on, ring true.
        However, he is hardly one to be correcting others, regarding grammar and/or spelling, as is evidenced by his postings here in this forum.

    • Sunshine, Andrew has explained the born-again, evangelical distorted viewpoint of what that peculiar group has decided to pick and choose about certain aspects of Judaism. He has no understanding of practical, real Judaism, especially in America.

      • Jackie I think I have a better understanding of what Judaism is than you do. Please tell me what ”practical real judaism especially in America” is. Would you be talking about Reformed or orthodox or conservative Judaism. Would it be Ashkenazi or Sephardic or Misrahic or Haredi. Would it be transdenominational. Please explain. Have you read the Torah the Tanakh? I have several times. I support Jews financially. I have been to Israel, to Nazareth and Bethlehem and Capernaum and to the museums. I understand Jewish history and persecution better than you do. I am part Jewish. It is ironic that Jews worldwide for centuries have been persecuted and hated and yet due to my conservative roots you Jackie hate me.

  5. Sunsihine,it does not help. The pressures of Island life are such that colloquy is acceptable, without regard to its source. Unless the error results in an incomprehensible neologism (i.e., covfefe, foistered, yuge, bigly,) there is none on this Island whose grammatical finger is so clean that he or she can point it at someone else.

  6. I stand with the LGBTQ community and those who accept people as they are. I do not stand with the bigots who wrap their bigotry up in the labels of religion and dissent.It’s a simple equation really. Do you judge people by how they were born or how they act?

  7. Islanduh we judge people by what they do. We are free to disagree with a lifestyle so long as we do not discriminate against that person. I disagree with a serial porn star but would serve her a meal in my restaurant. You are conflating disagreement with bigotry. Am I a bigot because I don’t vote for Cory Booker..?

    • Amdrew– with you explanation ”you shall have no other gods before me”
      Shouldn’t the “me” be capitalized ?

    • Andrew, that depends on why you wouldn’t vote for Cory Booker. If it’s because of skin tone, then yep. Bigot. If it’s because you disagree with his platform, then no, probably not, though I guess it would depend on the specific issues at hand.

      But there is not much of a comparison to be drawn between a political campaign and being gay. You refer to it as a lifestyle and seem to think it’s also comparable to the choice to do porn. It’s not. It’s more innate than that. And we’ve seen what happens when people who are gay “choose” to live a lifestyle that is not authentic to them. Look at Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart who recently came out. He wasted decades of his wife’s time by living a false life. He broke her heart and humiliated her in public. And he isn’t alone. That’s what encouraging people to choose another “lifestyle” in the name of religion does. It breeds dishonest situations and pain for all involved. And what’s the other alternative, for gay people to live in solitary and avoid relationships? No. Being openly gay hurts no one.

      • Ed Smart wasted his own life, too, by allowing his church’s homophobic brainwashing to keep him in limbo all those years. Really sad how much religion can ruin a life.

  8. Andrew– sorry to disagree with you about judging people, but your comment that “we judge people by what they do” runs counter to the teachings of your particular cult. I have been told by many a believer, including pastors, that it doesn’t matter what you do, you will never gain salvation unless you accept jesus as your savior. I think you have alluded to that yourself here.
    Following that logic, Mahatma Gandhi is in hell, and David Koresh is in heaven.
    Discrimination is one thing, bigotry is another.
    One can be bigoted, and still follow the law.

    • Mahatma Gandhi if he is in hell is because he didnt accept Jesus as his savior. Why should you care dondondon if you dont believe in hell? If you read the history of Gandhi you would know he is not too smart. He drank his own urine every day and told the Jews to march passively into the gas chambers. The only reason he is famous is that the British Colonials were kind in their occupation If it were Dutch or French colonialism he would have been slaughtered in one minute. read your history.

  9. As was said eons ago, by various people, “I don’t care what they do, as long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses” which is my position on most things. This quote is attributable to many different people and one may investigate it on quoteinvestigator.com…

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