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LGBTQ-affirming church in Georgia vandalized in suspected homophobic attack

Virginia Highland Church Atlanta LGBTQ Pride Parade
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Church leaders stressed they wouldn’t let one act of hatred detract from their mission of inclusive love.

An LGBTQ-affirming church in Georgia was the victim of vandalism after a man was seen “very aggressively” tearing down a banner displayed in front of the church, and church leaders suspect the attacker was making a hateful homophobic statement with the act.

The banner proclaimed, “A just world for all” and was torn down by an unidentified man on Tuesday afternoon at the Virginia-Highland Church in Atlanta.

“It was witnessed being torn down by a gentleman who tore it down very aggressively, clearly trying to make a statement, unfortunately,” Virginia-Highland Church Pastor Matt Laney told local Fox affiliate WAGA-TV.

The church is about 40 percent LGBTQ+ and Laney said the vandalism might be the hateful result of the church’s progressive and inclusive policies. While Christian churches in the Bible Belt have a reputation for anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs, Laney said the Virginia-Highland Church is all about loving one another.

“God is a god of love and inclusion, big tent, and that everyone belongs, Laney said. “Those who are marginalized, those who have been pushed to the edges of our community, are especially seen and loved by God.”

The Virginia-Highland Church was first established in 1923 and recently celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. The church has both in-person and online services, and is proud of its anti-racist and LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming beliefs.

“We are an anti-racist, LGBTQ–affirming, and progressive community of faith in the heart of Atlanta,” the church declares on its website. “No matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!”

Laney made clear that this act of vandalism would. Not deter the church from following its mission. Instead, he sees a chance to live by example.

"When the hatred rises up, when the shadows gather, that’s an opportunity for us to shine more love and light in the world," Rev. Laney told WAGA-TV.

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