Decorah churches marked with homophobic graffiti

DECORAH, Iowa (KCRG) – Two churches in Decorah are doubling down on their messages of inclusion after being hit by vandalism over the weekend. Some of the graffiti on and around the church buildings was homophobic and came on the heels of a Pride celebration in the city.

Nationally, Pride Month is in June, but according to Visit Decorah, the town’s pride celebration is in the fall to include Luther College students.

Every year, Decorah Congregational United Church of Christ puts out rainbow doors for the festivities.

“Our thing is extravagant welcome,” said Kristin Propson with Decorah UCC.

However, the welcome at the heart of this church was attacked on Sunday.

“The police notified me about 11:15, just as our service was wrapping up, and they said, ‘We need you to come outside,’” she said.

The rainbow doors were vandalized with the message “God hates gays.” Several other parts of Decorah UCC, a few spots at the neighboring Decorah Lutheran Church, and a wall across the street from the two churches were all vandalized.

“I have to admit, I kind of caught my breath right at the beginning,” said Propson.

“I was really offended when I saw these things,” said Peter Kowitz, pastor at Decorah Lutheran Church. “Such hate, such intolerance. It really—it just made me sad.“

Within hours, the vandalism at the churches was cleaned up or painted over by the congregations and community members.

“During worship services, people were out working and scrubbing at the walls,” said Kowitz.

Propson said sometimes it can be “a little scary” being an outspoken advocate, but both leaders said inclusivity and love are what their churches stand for and what they know Decorah stands for, too.

“The community response was what we really are…and what pride stands for,” said Propson.

Police are looking for any information or video footage that could lead to an arrest in the case.

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