When members of All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church arrived for services Sunday morning they found a pentagram and the words “Slay the priest” spray-painted in black across the building’s brick facade. While church members are citing intimidation and calling it a possible hate crime, some conservative bloggers have laughed it off and even speculated that the church itself was responsible.
The south Minneapolis church is a 350-member congregation with a mainly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender membership. The graffiti is seen by church members as a form of intimidation, but, “We are not calling it a hate crime yet,” Minneapolis Police Sgt. Tammy Diedrich told the Star Tribune. “Right now it is listed as damage to property.”
The Rev. Paul Eknes-Tucker told KSTP that the vandalism felt intimidating. “I have known all of my adult life as a pastor that I could be a target. Just because being the pastor of the gay church in town, no matter where you are, that puts a target on you,” he said. “Now… I don’t live in fear. You can’t.”
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“I’d bet a hundred bucks this has nothing to do with the church’s stance on gay rights. “Slay the Priest” and a pentagram means someone has been listening to too much crappy 80s heavy metal,” wrote conservative blogger James Lileks at the Star Tribune’s Buzz.mn. “Or perhaps it’s a reference to the band “Slay the Priest,” which has a big pentagram on its MySpace page.” The band may have a big pentagram, but the unsigned Neosho, Mo., metal band has a small following with 77 fans listed and about 470 web page views. It’s not likely that the band’s unrecorded hits have made their way out of Missouri Ozarks and into the hands of zealous south Minneapolis metal fans.
“Is this a self-inflicted hoax?,” asked Tom Swift a former St. Paul School board candidate and blogger opposed to homosexuality. “We don’t know, and we may never know. There’s no pictures, no witnesses, no evidence at all.”
The church sent out an email message to members Monday explaining the incendiary message. “Although graffiti is common in our area, this particular message is troubling. Minneapolis police have been alerted, and the graffiti will be removed as soon as possible,” the email said. “Please keep the church in prayer as we heal from this difficult experience.”