Crime & Courts

Catholic church in Eagle River vandalized with lewd graffiti

St. Andrew Catholic Church

A Catholic church in Eagle River was vandalized with lewd graffiti this month, marking the second such incident this year, according to the church’s pastor and police.

Just after midnight on Thursday, the Anchorage Police Department responded to reports of vandalism at St. Andrew Catholic Church, a police spokeswoman wrote in an email.

When officers arrived, they found that the exterior of the building as well as a vehicle in the parking lot had been vandalized with spray paint, police said.

Arthur Roraff, the church’s pastor, described the vandalism as “11 phallic symbols” that had been drawn with black paint.

The church is open all hours of the day and night to prayer by parish members, and there was one person parked at the church when the vandalism occurred. That person’s car was also vandalized, Roraff said.

This is the second time this year the church has been vandalized in the middle of the night with phallic images, Roraff said. The first incident occurred at the beginning of May.

“The first time, I didn’t want to draw too much attention to it because it was something that was sort of just unsightly, and it wasn’t something that I wanted to draw attention to,” Roraff said in an interview.

ADVERTISEMENT

“But it seems like it’s changed a little bit now, where it’s becoming a pattern. And we are becoming targeted, so I think it’s important that the wider community realizes that this is happening,” he said.

Roraff noted that the vandalism in May occurred the day after Politico released a leaked draft of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, removing federal protections for abortion and setting off waves of protests around the country.

In the U.S., the Catholic Church has long been an opponent of legal abortion. A recent Pew Research Survey found most Catholics think abortion should be illegal in some cases but legal in others.

Roraff said he wasn’t sure why St. Andrew’s was targeted, but that the church’s more remote location — it’s not on a busy road — could be a factor.

He said he was disappointed and frustrated by the vandalism, and that he wished whoever had painted the images had come to talk to him instead.

“This is contrary to what we believe and what we stand for,” Roraff said. “God is love. And obviously, this is somebody who is frustrated in the church. And so there’s just a disconnect between who we are and what they’re doing to us.”

No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

Annie Berman

Annie Berman covers health care for the Anchorage Daily News. She's a fellow with Report for America, and is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. A veteran of AmeriCorps and Vista volunteer programs, she's previously reported for Mission Local and KQED in the Bay Area.

Sponsored