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Miles City church pride flag vandalized

Posted at 1:37 AM, Aug 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-04 15:17:49-04

MILES CITY - Miles City police are investigating a possible hate crime.

It all began on Sunday when vandals placed a message on a sign and ripped a Pride flag at the United Christian Church.

The people that did this may have gotten up on one side of the metal roof and slid down the other side to the flag.

The pastors talk about the 1st Amendment with freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

They're alright with different opinions, but they're concerned about the vandalism and the crime and, so far, they say they're getting a good response from the rest of the Miles City community.

Somebody went up on the roof and took down the Pride flag and replaced it with an American flag.

A Miles City Police Department news release states: "The church's marquee had been covered with a homemade paper sign, quoting an Old Testament Bible verse which could be construed as being an anti-gay message."

"It was Leviticus 20:13," said Rev. Amber Richardson, which taken out of context can be used to say that gay men should be put to death and that their blood is on their hands.

The church took down that sign and put up another Bible verse.

"Love your neighbor, no matter what," Richardson said.

The church has displayed the pride flag since December 2019.

An attempt to take or damage the flag was made about two weeks ago and failed.

The incident on Sunday was the first time this has happened and it had a disturbing message.

"There was a hashtag on the bottom of the sign that said hashtag be gone," Richardson said. "And that to me was the most concerning part of it, that somebody would want us gone."

The pastors say they know people will have different opinions.

"We have no objection whatsoever to their own freedom of speech," said Rev. Bob Thaden. "They can stand on the street corner and proclaim that gays and lesbians are going to hell or that they're not welcome in our community. They can put that in front of their house or their church, if they're a church. We won't take down their symbols, but they have no right to try to silence the message that we're trying to offer."

While it's something they don't want to see, they appreciate the response.

"I think the majority of people in Miles City are really disappointed at this kind of behavior," said Thaden.