Police are investigating a possible hate crime after a car was vandalized in the parking lot of an Evangelical Lutheran church in Minnesota, where an openly gay woman was appointed as pastor.
The ceremony to honor Pastor Anita C. Hill at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church in St. Paul on Saturday did not go as planned, as a member of the congregation found that his car's back window in the parking lot had been smashed by a golf ball, which was lying in the back seat.
It was suggested that the incident was no accident after it was discovered that the ball had a homophobic slur written on it with red letters, although KSTC-TV did not identify the exact phrase that was used.
"There seems to be an awful lot of folks out there who just don't want to accept anything that they're not comfortable with. So lashing out seems to be one way of doing it," said Bob Paddock, the owner of the car.
One reason behind Pastor Hill's appointment to the pastoral position was to help strengthen acceptance and equality in the community – with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) calling her appointment "historic." Pastor Hill has said that she is set "to help congregations be fully welcoming in the pulpit and the pew," regardless of factors such as sexual orientation.
"I think we have some work to do to get to know one another fully. And that will break down the barriers between us, and that's what 'ReconcilingWorks' is all about," said Hill, referring to the Lutheran gay rights organization where she also works as the regional director.
The ELCA remains divided on the status of gays and lesbians in its congregations, acknowledging that same-sex marriage is viewed differently by segments of the denomination. It notes in its official statements that "this church lacks consensus on this matter."