Church hit by vandals

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2011

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — Anti-religious graffiti was found Tuesday spray painted on the wall and door of a historic Rowan County church.
Authorities are trying to determine whether the incident at Organ Lutheran Church, 1515 Organ Church Road, Salisbury, is related to a string of church vandalism that stretches through three counties.
Several churches and businesses in Stanly and Anson counties also have reported that they were vandalized Sunday night or early Monday morning.
Organ Lutheran Church, also known as Zion Lutheran, sits just southwest of Rockwell. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest stone Lutheran church in North Carolina.
Pastor Carlin Ours said he found the graffiti Tuesday morning on the church’s historic building. The new building nearby was left untouched.
“It’s a sad commentary on our culture and society,” Ours said. “But we will go on in Christian love and pray for these individuals, as well as the other churches and their congregations.”
Ours was taking a walk with church members when he first noticed a pentagram, two upside-down crosses and the word “Satan” spray painted in red on a white door.
But most of the vandalism defaced an outer stone wall around the corner, on the oldest part of the building constructed in 1794.
“I thought maybe they broke the windows out back, but fortunately, they didn’t break anything,” he said.
The words “Believe The Truth,” “God?” and “Prepare” were sprayed around a large number “2012” with what appears to be an alien’s head in the center.
The paintings also included graphic images, the number “666” and the words “DMT = Truth.” DMT can refer to a psychedelic drug that is illegal in the United States.
According to a report from the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, the vandals seem to be children because of the “amateur artwork.”
The report says several spray paint cans matching the graffiti colors — red, purple and teal — were found at the edge of the woods nearby.
Ours said he doesn’t know what it will take to clean up the spray paint while preserving the building.
“It’s really sad, because this is a historic church,” he said. “But we know other churches were hit pretty hard. … We’re fortunate that’s all they did.”
Several churches and businesses in Stanly County reported spray paint on signs, walls or windows Monday, the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office said.
Cedar Hill AME Zion in Anson County was hit with the worst of the damage, according to multiple media reports.
Anti-religious phrases and racial slurs were painted on the walls of the Ansonville church, which has a predominantly black congregation.
Every stained-glass window was broken, and it appeared that a child’s tombstone was thrown through one. Equipment and furniture were torn up, the pulpit was destroyed and a cross from the podium was set on fire in front of the building.
Crime Stoppers has offered a reward of up to $1,000 in both counties for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in this case.
Those with information may call the Stanly County Crime Stoppers at 704-982-0711 or the Anson County Crime Stoppers at 704-694-4188.