Chris Schwartz, who is running for a position on Black Hawk County, Iowa’s Board of Supervisors, claims that the home he shares with his boyfriend was vandalized with death threats following a confrontation with a local right-wing religious group.
On Wednesday night, Schwartz found his house covered in graffiti, the word “FAG” written in black spray paint. A yard sign endorsing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was also targeted, painted over to read “TRUMP” instead. In addition, the vandals scrawled “Lev 20:13” on Schwartz’s door, a reference to what is widely viewed as Bible’s stance on homosexuality found in the chapter of Leviticus.
According to Schwartz, the incident amounts to a “hate crime.”
“It's a death threat to my boyfriend and I, which says a man who lies with man shall be put to death,” Schwartz told KWWL, a local TV station. Leviticus 20:13 reads, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death.”
Schwartz has pointed the finger at The Cedar Valley Patriots for Christ, a local faith-based community group that meets in Cedar Falls.
The problem allegedly began when the Patriots, whose mission statement claims that politics and religion “should not be separate,” attacked Schwartz in a Facebook post. The group claimed that Schwartz, who was instrumental in helping to organize the area’s first Pride parade, was responsible for spreading “debauchery.”
“We think that the display… on our community streets is not family friendly and is quite disgusting,” the Patriots stated in a message posted to their account on October 25.
Calling on local Christians to “put a stop” to his campaign, the group added, “We have a pro-gay socialist who is to the left of Bernie Sanders, who wants to increase regulation, have a county board increase minimum wage, hurt businesses, [and] employees. … Does anyone else see a major problem here?”
Although the Patriots have stated that it will pay for the damage to Schwartz’s home, the group denies responsibility. In fact, the organization has claimed it’s a “hoax.”
“This is right out of the socialism playbook in politics, to create phony crises and try to capitalize on it,” Judd Saul, the leader of Cedar Valley Patriots for Christ, told the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. “I think they did it themselves.” The Patriots have pointed to Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, a 1971 guide for community organizers, as proof that the incident is nothing but a “leftist” lie.
“Christians do not go around quoting Leviticus,” the group added on Facebook. “Let alone spray painting it on doors. We do not condone such activities.”
The Patriots, who have refused to apologize to Schwartz for what happened, have dismissed the idea that the incident comprises a hate crime, citing the definition of hate as “intense or passionate dislike for someone.” As the group explained on social media, it doesn’t hate Schwartz — just his orientation.
“Words are not actions,” the Patriots claimed on Facebook. “Stating a belief that does not encourage violence is not hate speech.”
This is not the first time that Schwartz, however, has been attacked. Shortly after announcing his campaign for the Board of Supervisors, an unknown individual left a bag of coolant in his yard. Schwartz owns chihuahuas and often posts photos of his pets on Facebook. One of the dogs ate the toxic substance and died.
Nonetheless, Schwartz has said that he plans to remain in Black Hawk County and continue his campaign. “This is our home,” he told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “This is where we live. We don’t have anywhere else to go.”
The incident is currently being investigated by local authorities as a hate crime.