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SPOTLIGHT
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Religious assault

Published on -5/9/2013, 9:32 AM

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We're simply not sure if it's possible to rank acts of vandalism -- or even if there is any value to such a pursuit.

Whether a house has eggs thrown at it or a vehicle has its tire slashed, there certainly is a difference in monetary damage. But the act itself is a transgression capable of leaving the targeted person feeling violated or even victimized.

Still, it strikes us that vandalism against a house of worship enters into a different realm. Sanctuaries by definition, holy locations and buildings that suffer purposeful destruction encounter more than physical or psychological loss. Any time a spiritual aura that offers protection is instead attacked, it is difficult to use the word "vandalism" to describe what transpired.

Yet it happens. In the case of St. Andrew Episcopal Church in rural Ellis County, it happens repeatedly. The most recent act included a fire being set, theft of a prayer book, destruction of windows and pews, and liquor bottles being dumped and smashed against the walls.

The disheartening turn of events took place as the small congregation was gearing up for Palm Sunday. The historic church required approximately $3,000 to clean up and make repairs.

"We've had this stuff happen in the past," said Dan Johnson, a rancher and retired legislator who leads the prayer service twice a month at St. Andrew's. "This was really bad."

Bad, yes. Disgusting as well. And given our constitutionally protected freedom to worship as we choose, the responsible perpetrators were acting downright un-American. This wasn't merely a case of a prank gone awry or a night of partying gone wild. The attack was an assault on the very freedoms we all are afforded simply by residing in this great country.

We hope justice is served swiftly and harshly. The Ellis County Sheriff's office does not have suspects at this point, although there are persons of interest. Fingerprints lifted from the church have been sent to the KBI for potential identification.

We would encourage anyone with information about this disgusting act to call the sheriff's office at (785) 625-1040.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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