After sign vandalized, Arlington Heights church touts new message: Love your neighbor
An Arlington Heights church on Friday replaced a Black Lives Matter banner that quoted a Bible verse and was targeted by vandals with a new sign and message: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Many of those neighbors gathered outside Lutheran Church of the Cross Friday afternoon to sign the new banner, which quotes Jesus' Great Commandment.
"We were trying to think of a way to stand for love and compassion for our neighbors, and yet de-escalate the situation," said Katherine Ehlert, a member of the church who has organized the weekly Friday afternoon "Solidarity Stand" on social justice issues since June.
That's around the same time the original banner was installed in front of the church at 2025 S. Goebbert Road. Handwritten in black ink on white vinyl, it read: "Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God. #Black Lives Matter."
Sometime in the overnight hours between Thursday, July 30, and Friday, July 31, it was defaced with spray paint and a stuffed black sock with the letters "KKK" was hung from a noose tied to the bottom, according to the church and police. Then, it was slashed Tuesday, and again Wednesday.
"Whoever did this clearly has lot of anger and hatred, and that's concerning," Ehlert said.
The vandalism prompted condemnation from Mayor Tom Hayes and residents at the village board meeting Monday night.
And it spurred a neighbor to write church leaders, telling them he was happy they were living up to the words of the Bible. He quoted the Gospel of Mark, noting Jesus instructed his disciples to "love your neighbor as yourself."
That inspired church leaders to print that verse on a new banner, which was installed Friday after being signed by many of about 80 people who gathered for the weekly vigil. The event turned into a rally of sorts, with members of other area churches that host weekly gatherings of their own congregating at the site to show their support.
Church officials decided not to repair the original sign again, or include "Black Lives Matter" on their new banner, fearing it could provoke violence against members of the church or those who come to a weekly food pantry.
"We are taking down the old one that is now a sign of hatred and replacing it with words of love," Ehlert said.
• Daily Herald staff photographer Mark Welsh contributed to this report.