Last September, the conservative, anti-gay Mars Hill Church set up shop into Southeast Portland. Despite initial local protest, the church seems to have successfully set its roots in progressive Portland with little backlash. Until now.
Yesterday morning, a group of self-labeled gay activists (their email screen name: "angryqueers") smashed nine of the church's windows—two that are 100-year-old stained glass windows—with rocks. The damage is estimated to be several thousand dollars. Interestingly enough, the group fessed up to their crime in an anonymous email to KOIN, writing that their vandalizing was in response to the church being "notoriously anti-gay and anti-woman."
Pastor Tim Smith responded to the incident on Mars Hill's Facebook page yesterday afternoon, noting that while it was disappointing, "a few piles of broken glass doesn’t change anything for us. Be encouraged, stay on the message, keep on the mission and I’ll see you this Sunday."
A range of local representatives from both the religious and gay communities have already spoken out on the vandalism, including notoriously liberal Reverend Chuck Currie and the Q Center staff. "I am embarrassed by whoever did this, and sincerely hope the queer community can continue to stay focused on changing hearts and minds rather than breaking windows," the Q Center's Logan Lynn told PQ Monthly. "We have every right to be angry, given the history of hurt from the church, but violence is not the answer. If we want to be treated like human beings, we must not behave like animals."
The police currently remain on the hunt for the criminals—stay tuned for a more in-depth look on the issue.
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