By Kelly Roy King and Stephen Schwendiman
A group of vandals have terrorized at least ten churches in the Portland, Oregon area.
Six of those churches are chapels and stake centers belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Sgt. Michael Janin of the Beaverton Police.
Vandals entered the churches by prying open or shattering windows, Janin said.
The vandalism occurred late Sunday, July 9, said Pastor Dan Wehrspann of the Prince of Peace Lutheran church in Beaverton, Ore.
Once inside, the vandals focused their efforts on administrative offices, Janin said. They pried open cabinets, upended furniture, discharged fire extinguishers and tore off book covers, he said.
Janin said vandalism to the LDS Cedar Mill Stake Center at 173rd Street and Walker, included olive oil being poured around the room and sailing hymnbooks across the gym floor.
“It’s disheartening to me that it’s going on in my own neighborhood,” Janin said. Janin lives across the street from the stake center.
“Mormons suck,” “We hate Mormons,” and “Mormons don’t rule,” were phrases found scrawled on the walls of one of LDS Churches in Tigard, Ore., said Jim Wolf, public information officer for the Tigard Police Department.
Tigard Community Friends Church, the Trinity Evangelical Church, the Southwest Bible Church and the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church all had church buildings damaged by the vandals.
Wehrspann said vandals ruined carpet, broke doors and plastered computer keyboards with rubber cement and dowsed Pepsi on the church’s white choir robes.
Janin said there is nothing to believe the vandalism is directed towards one particular group or is a hate crime.
Carl Stubblefield, assistant to the pastor at the Southwest Bible Church in Beaverton, Ore., said his church has been hit three times in the last 30 days.
Stubblefield said each time the vandals hit, the damage gets worse.
As soon as he found out churches of other religions were being damaged, he realized the vandals did not have a personal vendetta against his church, Stubblefield said.
“The vandalism has given us the opportunity to pray for the people who did it,” said Barb Thornburt of the Tigard Community Friends Church.
Wolf said the Tigard Police are working with other agencies to draw parallels to the crimes.
The police agencies believe the crimes are related.
Similar instances have occurred at each of the churches, Janin said.
In each of the churches it seems kitchens and administrative offices have been targeted and fire extinguishers have been discharged, Janin said.
The police have not named any suspects yet, Wolf said.
Wehrspann said community members and congregations are pulling together to help clean up the vandalism.
Janin said police are stepping up patrols around the churches.
Stubblefield said his church will be implementing new security measures as quickly as possible.
“Vandals try to break groups apart, but it only makes us stronger,” Wehrspann said.