Church vandalism tears at the fabric of civil society

By Rev. David A. Miller and the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito

We want to share this with our community.

Last week, sometime in the early morning hours on Friday, Dec. 9, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito in Solana Beach was vandalized with spray paint and what was apparently intended to be hateful words. It is unclear whether the person or persons who did this meant these words to be specifically against Unitarian Universalism or perhaps just a rant against some sort of religious institution. No matter how they were intended, it is clear that when these acts occur the fabric of civil society tears a little more.

Unitarian Universalists celebrate diversity of theological beliefs and are guided by seven principles. Our congregations are places where we gather to nurture our spirits and live our faith through acts of peace, love and social justice in our communities and the wider world. Our seventh principles states, “we respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”; therefore, we lift up the concept that what happens to one truly does happen to all. When this kind of vandalism happens it can challenge the trust and hope that we have for the world.

Whenever events like this occur in a community there is public speculation about what it meant. Questions naturally arise as to the motivation of the offender. The answer clearly has to be that we have no idea. We will all view these events (as we do all events) through our own lens, our own hopes, our own fears, and in general our view on life. We have no idea what was in the mind of those who did this unless they want to come tell us, which we would welcome. These acts remind us that we are always in control of our own thoughts and feelings, the way we respond, and the actions we take after the incident occurs.

The sign at the front of our congregation says we “stand on the side of love.” These are not hollow words. Standing on the side of love happens in both good and challenging times. We are sorry for the pain in the person or people who performed this act, and we have felt pain here in our community, but we are confident that we will continue to stand for love.

We are filled with deep gratitude for the beauty of our campus, and although we love the natural beauty of the surroundings, what truly matters are the people who have needed to be a part of this community now and in the past, and those who will come to be a part of this community in the future. People of all loving communities of faith should be free to speak their hearts without fear or intimidation.

Although deeply unfortunate, this is not the first example of intolerance of religious diversity in this community nor in this country and it may not be the last, but we will move through whatever comes, together, firmly standing arm and arm, hand and hand and always on the side of love.