Members of The Gathering Place in Collinsville made a shocking discovery at the debut of their new church this past Sunday. It wasn't the Easter bunny.
No. Some miscreant had spray-painted an upside down cross, the numbers "666" and a crude depiction of "male anatomy" on the side of the building.
A parishioner spotted the graffiti about 7 a.m. Sunday morning and together with the minister was able to clean the paint off the church by the time other members arrived for the grand-opening Easter service for the church.
Now the Collinsville police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
As the Belleville News-Democrat
reports this morning
, under state law a criminal act "committed
because of the race, religion,
sexual orientation or other protected status of the victim qualifies as a
hate crime, and becomes a class 3 felony for a first offense if it is
committed against a church."
Meanwhile, the chruch's pastor, the Rev. Wayne Reed, prefers to see the graffiti as a sign from above.
"Evidently we've stirred up some people in the area," he tells the News-Democrat
"Evidently, they need some spiritual help."