LAWRENCE, Kan. — Vandals hit a Douglas County church during the overnight hours.
That church, Victory Baptist Church, has been outspoken in its support for anti-abortion legislation. Church leaders told Lawrence police it was after midnight when vandals spray painted the church walls with messages supporting abortion rights, such as “protect choice,” as well as “vote no,” referring to Kansas’ abortion amendment on Tuesday’s ballot.
“We are against abortion. We make no apology about that,” Pastor Leo Barbee, Victory Bible Church’s lead pastor, said Monday.
A large display of wooden crosses in the church front yard, which were also related to the issue, were also toppled over by vandals. Surveillance video from the church show two masked people in the act of spray painting those messages and breaking the crosses.
Barbee, who has led this church since it opened in 1983, said he isn’t angry over this act, but he’s disappointed. He plans to pray for whomever did this to his church building. In fact, the pastor said he’s considering leaving the messages on the building for awhile longer.
“We believe God has meant this for good. We’re not looking for publicity. We’re not looking for testimony. We just want to be a witness. We feel it’s a God thing more than a hate thing,” Barbee said.
“I take it personally. I do,” John Lingenfelser, a church member, said.
Lingenfelser is in charge of changing the church’s sign, which on Monday, carried a message that reflects the church’s anti-abortion beliefs. Vandals had spray painted over that sign.
Lingenfelser said he realizes the sign won’t change anyone’s opinion on the election issue, but he doesn’t appreciate the disrespect to a church building.
“This isn’t how you settle this. You don’t go to somebody’s house and rip up signs or anything else. You can debate it, and we’ve done enough of that. You can protest it, but you don’t physically destroy something,” Lingenfelser said.
“America is supposed to be about freedom of speech. We can disagree right or wrong, but we don’t have to fallout about it. That’s where we are,” Barbee said.
Three weeks ago, an Overland Park church was vandalized in similar fashion. Walls at Church of the Ascension were also covered in spray painted messages with a similar tone.
If you can help investigators in Lawrence, please contact the Lawrence Police Department.
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