Two churches in southeast Melbourne were found vandalized on Oct. 15 with slogans calling for "yes" votes for same-sex marriage in Australia, stirring concern among members of the affected congregations.
Hours before Sunday services began, members of the Glen Waverley Anglican Church found the phrases "vote yes" and "bash bigots" painted on the outside wall of their church, accompanied by a cross, an equals sign and a swastika. Just a kilometer away, Waverley Baptist Church was also vandalized with similar words, The Australian detailed.
"The people at our 8am service, which is our first morning service here, some felt threatened by what was written there, others were disturbed we were being drawn into the debate in such a visually violent way," the Anglican church's lead pastor Drew Mellor told The Australian. "The association with the swastika was quite concerning, that view that people see Christians and brand them with that, will concern people."
The graffiti writing came about a month since Pastor Mellor issued a statement explaining why their church supported the traditional definition of marriage. He also expressed sadness that people who were against same-sex marriage were labeled as bigots.
The Baptist church, on the other hand, was vandalized with the phrases "Crucify No voters" and "Vote Yes." Senior Pastor David O'Brien told The Herald Sun that the vandals probably painted the graffiti on Saturday night and that it was the first time they received such threatening messages despite their heated conversations on same-sex marriage.
The incidents of church vandalism came days after The Guardian reported that the Sydney Anglican diocese had donated $1 million to the "no" campaign against same-sex marriage. Archbishop Glenn Davies, who announced the monetary support, said taking away "gender from the marriage construct" would be detrimental to society.
Archbishop Davies maintained that the Christian faith requires them to uphold the biblical design of marriage. He added that he made "no apology" for calling on citizens to vote against same-sex marriage in Australia.