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Vandals hit local church

November 23, 1998

By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




TILGHMANTON - Parishioners at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church near Tilghmanton and Fairplay were surprised and upset Sunday morning to find that the exterior of their church had been defaced with graffiti.

The church, which was built in 1854, was covered with spray-painted messages on three walls. Only the front of the church was free of the graffiti, which was mostly sexual and satanic in nature. The church is at 17626 Bakersville Road.

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"We are very disappointed," said the Rev. Blaine Feightner, the church pastor. The church was founded almost 200 years ago, he said.

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The graffiti included such messages as "God is a lie," "Worship Satan" and "House of Hell." A picture of a marijuana plant was drawn with the words "Your only god" spray painted underneath it.

There were also pictures of upside-down crosses and the number "666" painted on the walls.

At least four of the tombstones in the church cemetery were knocked over by the vandals.

While the crime may have occurred earlier in the week, the first any of the parishioners knew of the graffiti was when they arrived for services Sunday morning, said Ronald Moser, the president of the church council.

"It has got the parishioners pretty upset," Moser said.

Feightner mentioned the vandalism during the church services, informing the parishioners that the crime had been reported to the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

The sheriff's deputy who took the report could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Feightner said he does not believe this is the work of teen-agers.

"It's more mature people who have something against the church," he said.

Some of the parishioners plan to meet today to try to clean up the graffiti, Moser said.

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