Sometime during the night of Saturday November 8th and Sunday November 9th, four chapels of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Layton, Utah were vandalized. Full stories published by the Deseret News, the Ogden Standard-Examiner, and KSL Channel 5 (includes video and a photo gallery).
Layton police say all four churches were in roughly the same area. The addresses of the churches hit are:
- 2025 E. Antelope Dr.
- 1290 N. Church St.
- 60 W. Gordon Ave.
- 2160 W. Gordon Ave.
While the damage at three of the buildings was discovered Sunday by churchgoers, damage at the fourth chapel, located in a less-accessible part of the building, was not discovered until Monday morning. In all cases a BB gun had been used. All of the churches had glass windows or doors shattered with obvious signs of a bullet hole.
The Layton Police Department first responded to the vandalism Sunday morning as people were showing up for services. Police say they believe all of the churches were shot sometime between late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Police also say that although it appears that one person was responsible and that only LDS chapels were affected, they haven't enough evidence to consider it a hate crime yet. Lt. Quinn Moyes said, "As people were coming, there was a lot of speculation that this might be a hate crime. That it might be associated with Prop. 8 out of California. However, at this point we have no hard evidence to substantiate that it is or is not a hate crime".
Police estimate total combined damage at $2,800 worth of damage (according to the Deseret News). At this time there are no leads or suspects. Anyone who can provide information is asked to call dispatch at 801-497-8300.
In addition, Ogden police report that two LDS chapels in Weber County were vandalized during the same period. A chapel located at 5855 S. Skyline Dr. near South Ogden was targeted, resulting in shattered windows and a broken door. And windows were shot out at another Ogden LDS chapel at 5191 Old Post Road.
Update: As of 10:22 P.M. MST November 9th, another report of vandalization. KSL reports that an LDS chapel at 11500 South and Wasatch Blvd. in Sandy has had a window shattered.
These are the first reported incidents of an LDS chapel vandalization in the "Mormon heartland" since passage of Proposition 8 in California. Those who oppose Proposition 8 are singling out the LDS Church for criticism because the LDS Church walked point on this issue, although there was a lot of help from non-Mormons. Other instances of LDS Church vandalization have been recorded in California, to include the Orangevale chapel. On November 7th, vandals spray-painted "No On 8" on the chapel's sign.
And on November 8th, two chapels were vandalized in San Luis Obispo. Only one is LDS. At the LDS chapel, adhesive was poured on a doormat, keypad and window around 8 A.M. Then at 9 A.M., eggs were thrown and toilet paper was spread at the San Luis Obispo Assembly of God chapel. No damage was reported. It is not known if the same person was responsible for both events or if hate was the motivation.
And the harsh rhetoric fueling this type of activity is unlikely to dampen any time soon. The Deseret News reports that a "boycott Utah" campaign is being organized. However, organizers are not accounting for the fact that Salt Lake City's considerable gay community might be victimized by such a boycott.
It looks like LDS President Thomas S. Monson has been called to preside over the Church at an increasingly difficult time in its history. We Mormons can take comfort in the fact that no Church President has ever been better prepared for the top job, as Monson served over 40 years as an Apostle on the Quorum of the Twelve before taking command.
A final note - I find it interesting that the NAACP, which screams bloody murder every time a black church is targeted, has remained silent in the face of this campaign against LDS churches. Remember that the next time someone tries to tell you that the NAACP is for "everybody". The NAACP is clearly a black supremacist organization.