Attackers Spray-Paint ‘666’ on Adventist Church in Florida
“I don't understand why someone would do it,” the pastor says
Unknown vandals spray-painted inverted crosses and the numbers “666” on a Seventh-day Adventist church in the U.S. state of Florida in an overnight attack that surprised its pastor.
The symbols and other graffiti, some of it obscene, were scrawled on the concrete sign, fellowship hall, and pump house of the Jupiter Seventh-day Adventist Church near Palm Beach, pastor Richard Moseley said Wednesday.
“I don't understand why someone would do it,” Moseley said by telephone. “That's one of the questions I have, ‘Why, why would you do it?’ To the best of my knowledge, we haven't made anybody angry.”
The church is located in a quiet area with little traffic after hours, he said. Security video footage indicates that the vandalism took place shortly before dawn Tuesday, he said.
Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has opened an investigation, and officers were studying the video footage in hope of identifying the culprits.
Moseley said several church members have called and texted him after the incident, saying this was the “devil’s work.”
The congregation has 113 members on the books, although the pastor said attendance can swell to 130 during the winter months.
“I was really disappointed and hurt, in the sense I don’t understand why people do this sort of thing,” Moseley said. “There was no rhyme or reason. We’re a very caring and loving church. … “The people who did it probably have never been to church here.”
But he told the local Palm Beach Post newspaper that the attack reminded him that Jesus was coming soon.
“This tells me we are getting closer to the Second Coming,” he said. “The closer we get, the more people give in to fear.”
Attacks on Adventist churches are rare in the United States. Arson was initially suspected in a fire at the College Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, on June 22, 2015. But the small fire, which caused minimal damage at the African-American church, was later ruled not a hate crime. It occurred during a summer that several large fires classified as arson caused significant damage at African-American churches in the U.S.
The Florida attack is the second major incident of vandalism against a local house of worship in recent months, the Palm Beach Post said. Last November, attackers defaced a sign supporting “Black Lives Matter” at the church of the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches. A man was arrested in connection with that attack.