Georgia church hit by vandals, incident called a hate crime


Augusta, GA (WJBF) – The Richmond County Sheriff’s office is investigating a downtown Augusta, Georgia church tagged with graffiti.

This is the second time vandals have hit the Metropolitan Community Church in the last two weeks.

This time the criminals left behind a message. A message of hate.

The words, you’ll burn and a bible verse spray painted on the front steps of the church.

An incident report that estimates the damage at $2,500.

The pastor says it’s another hate crime targeting his church.

We’re gonna do our best to clean it up,” said Mike Walraven

It’s a volunteer effort to help clean the front of Metropolitan Community Church.

The historic building’s steps and front door tagged by vandals.

Deon Guillory asked, “How does it make you feel to see this on a church?”

Walraven answered, “It’s God’s house and you shouldn’t do that.”

The criminals spray painted the words “burn” and “lies” on the brick in front of the church.

On the door is a misspelled bible verse.

On the front steps, the words “You’ll burn” and that bible verse, Leviticus 18:22, spelled correctly.

The church’s pastor, Rick Sosbe, tries to clean it up.

“This clearly is a hate crime. Based on the saying we will burn and the scripture they are referencing,” said Sosbe.

That scripture reads, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”

Deon Guillory asked, “Do you feel it’s just a target?

Sosbe replied, “It’s hard to say. It kinda feels that way.”

The church was also hit about 2 weeks ago.

News Channel 6 was the only TV station to report on a rainbow flag being stolen and the pole being broken in front of the church.

We were also the only station to document the moments Sosbe and his partner became the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in Richmond County.

According to Georgia Equality, Georgia is 1 of only 5 states that does not have a state hate crimes law.

Deon Guillory asked,”What happens next?”

Sosbe answered, “Well, what happens next is we move on. We move forward. We clean up this mess.”

Church members plan to paint the doors to get rid of the spray paint there.

Augusta Pride is planning a rally in front of the church.

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