A banner expressing support for LGBT rights hanging in front of a United Methodist church in Washington, D.C., was set on fire last week, prompting police in the nation's capital to launch an investigation into the possible anti-LGBT hate crime, according to the Washington Blade.
St. Luke's United Methodist Church Mission Center, just blocks from the vice president's residence at the United States Naval Observatory, displayed a rainbow banner with the words "Stop the Trials" printed in white block letters. Some Methodist churches are hanging the banner to express support for Methodist ministers on trial for blessing same-sex unions, putting them at odds with church doctrine, including Rev. Frank Schaeffer and Rev. Thomas Ogletree.
Jeff Clouser, a church spokesman, told the Blade Monday that St. Luke’s employees discovered the damage to the banner last week, but that they weren't sure when the fire was lit.
In a statement, the church's pastor, Rev. Charles Parker, asked for mutual respect from those who disagree with his church's LGBT-affirming stance.
“I am clear in my own wrestling with scripture, tradition, reason, and experience that the current position of our church is wrong,” he wrote. “I am also clear that other colleagues of good will and integrity have likewise wrestled with the issue and come to a different conclusion. What I would like to ask is, ‘can we respect each other enough to allow each of us to act in accordance with our conscience?’”
According to the Blade, police have classified the incident as a “destruction of property-hate bias incident.”