Churchgoers were greeted with profanity and satanic symbols written in “ugly black and red” spray paint on the exterior of at least three churches in Red Deer on Sunday morning.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Deer Park Alliance Church and CrossRoads Church were desecated by vandals sometime late Saturday night.
The front glass doors and exterior walls of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on 55th Street and 48A Avenue were spray-painted with vulgar messages and symbols.
Some of the graffiti read “Temple of Slaves” “666” and “Satan.” A five-pointed star or a pentagram was painted on the east wall of the church.
Father Martin Carroll, a priest for more than 40 years, has never seen such vandalism on a church. Carroll was reluctant to comment on the incident because he did not want to give the vandals publicity.
The graffiti on the front of the church was scrubbed clean by volunteers on Monday. The rest of the graffiti is expected to be removed sometime this week.
Anne Marie Watson, chair of the church’s pastoral council, said the parishioners were deeply sadden by the vandalism.
“It was so vivid and ugly,” said Watson. “When you go to church you go and go feel good about being there and you walk up, and it is a slap in the face.”
Watson did not think the vandals were trying to send a message to the Catholic church or the Christian church because the words and the symbols did not make sense.
“It seemed very random,” she said. “I think it was more (someone trying) to do something ugly to try to get some impact.”
The Deer Park Alliance Church on 39th Street was marked with profanity, satanic verses and symbols on the church’s front entrance, the exterior walls and a sidewalk. The main doors were spray-painted with the phrase “Prison for the Weak.”
“It looks like a bunch of punks that have something maybe against church and God,” said Rev. Ed Mangham. “It’s hard to say what their motive was. We went to work right away.”
Volunteers covered up the graffiti and moved snow on the sidewalk before the morning’s church service.
“At the church service itself we made mention of it and prayed for the people that did it,” said Mangham. “It’s a shame they don’t know or understand how much God loves them. We pray they would know that. They would feel bad if they realized how much God cared for them.”
CrossRoads Church at 32nd Street and Hwy 2 was hit on the west side of the building. Staff covered up the “inappropriate phrases” before churchgoers arrived Sunday morning and removed the vandal’s work on Monday morning.
“These things aren’t a big deal for us,” said CrossRoads executive pastor Jordan Polson, noting the police were notified. “We get it cleaned off and move on . . . You know you always get the odd incident now and again but it’s few and far between. We just take it as it comes, fix it and move on.”
Staff at the three churches notified the police on Sunday.