Leaders at the West Lafayette Unitarian Universalist Church ‒ where two banners full of racial slurs, veiled threats and misspellings were posted early Sunday ‒ are staying tight-lipped about whether they’ll increase security in the wake of the hate speech.
However, Rev. Charlie Davis says the church does plan to hold a Wednesday evening service full of songs and talk of social justice, in hopes of using the vandalism to bring the community together.
Davis says his congregants sang civil rights tunes during the Sunday gathering that followed discovery of the signs.
“Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around," Davis sang. "And just so we could let the service with a kind of good feeling of ‘we’re gonna make it through this.’”
Davis says Greater Lafayette – which has also seen white supremacist literature posted more than a half dozen times on the Purdue University campus in the last couple years ‒ suffers from the same sorts of race-based intolerance as the rest of the country. And he says even his church has a tangential role in the community’s checkered history of race relations
“I just know that the land that this church is on was deeded to the city in the 50s with the provisions that it not be sold to black people. That’s not that long ago.”
The Wednesday evening service starts at 7:30 and will include keynote addresses from West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis and others.
Davis would not say if the church plans to add security cameras or other devices to dissuade further vandalism.
He says he thinks it’s likely the congregation’s liberal, often activist, stance toward inclusion made the church a target for Sunday’s bigotry.