Racist, Threatening Message Left on Door of Black Church in Indiana

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With the racist words freshly scrubbed from the door of his church, the Rev. Todd Robertson searched for a Scripture reading that would set the right tone for his congregation — somewhere between hopeful and defiant.

Most of all, he didn’t want parishioners at his mostly black church in Evansville, Ind., to be intimidated.

So he built Sunday’s sermon around Matthew 5:16, which speaks about letting light shine in dark times.

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“I told them we have to understand that the light must be projected during the midst of darkness,” he told The Washington Post. “There’s a lot of hatred in the world. And hatred begets hatred. The only thing that can drive out hatred is love.”

Days earlier, that hatred was on display at his church. On the side door, someone wrote “Kill all Koons.” On the church van: “Koons inside.” Parishioners found a third hateful statement on a nearby trash can.

Evansville police are investigating the case as a hate crime. Liberty Missionary Baptist Church is the city’s oldest black house of worship, Robertson said. It was built by former slaves in 1865 near downtown Evansville, a city that is 13 percent black.

No one has been arrested in connection with the vandalism, and police have not released the name of a suspect. Over the holiday weekend, investigators canvassed the neighborhood around the church and sought potential witnesses, Evansville police Capt. Andy Chandler told The Post. They are also trying to see whether any private surveillance cameras caught someone lurking on church property on Thanksgiving Day.

For the church, Thanksgiving was a day of service. Every year, Liberty Missionary opens its doors on the holiday to feed the needy. This year, parishioners and volunteers fed nearly 300 people.

The meal attracts people of all races — both those eating it and those volunteering to serve it.

The dishes were washed and the tables were put up when Robertson received a call telling him about the graffiti.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Cleve R. Wootson Jr.