For the third time in 18 months, St. Andrew Catholic Church in Eagle River has been hit with vile graffiti that was spray painted on the outside of the parish.
The most recent attack occurred on Nov. 11, just before midnight. According to parish staff, vandals painted the front and side of the church with crude, four-foot-high phallic symbols, which are nearly identical to those painted on the building in two similar attacks last year.
Church surveillance videos show a person wearing a face covering, blue and gray jacket and hoodie with dark blue pants and black gloves. It also reveals a dark colored, 4-door sedan, which may have been used by the perpetrator.
Videos show the person calmly approaching the church with a white spray can in hand. After committing the crime, the person walks back to the parking lot.
The parish is asking area residents to share the images and videos, and to contact the church if they have any information. Additionally, people can leave an anonymous tip at Anchorage Crime Stoppers www.AnchorageCrimeStoppers.com, which pays $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest of an individual for a felony crime.
In 2022, the parish suffered two acts of vandalism. The first came one day after the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft opinion was leaked, indicating that it was about to overturn Roe v. Wade. It was also the night before the church hosted a well-publicized talk on gender identity by Catholic speaker Jason Evert. On that occasion, nails were scattered across the parking lot.
In November of 2022, the vandal returned with more spray-painted phallic symbols.
Father Arthur Roraff, who serves as pastor of St. Andrew’s, said reports have been filed with the Anchorage Police Department, but there has been no resolution for any of the crimes.
The attacks on St. Andrew’s are part of a wider problem in Alaska and across the country. Last year, a prominent pro-life pregnancy center in Anchorage was vandalized with graffiti, a broken front door and nails placed upright in the cracks of the parking lot. That attack came during a national wave of damages suffered by pro-life centers and churches in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Then, Ammo-Can Coffee, a popular coffeeshop among conservative-minded, faith-filled Alaskan patriots on the Kenai Peninsula, had the words “TRAITORS” sprayed on its outside windows in 2022.
The latest FBI statistics reveal that hate crimes targeting religious groups are at an all-time high. Nationally, there were 2,044 religiously motivated hate crimes reported across the U.S. in 2022, the most since the agency began keeping records in 1991.
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Alaska had four religiously motivated hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2022. That is the most since at least 1993. All of the incidents in Alaska involved destruction of property, vandalism or larceny. Three occurred at houses of worship.
CatholicVote, a national Catholic advocacy group, launched an interactive map documenting attacks on Catholic churches since 2020. According to the group, there have been at least 350 attacks against U.S. Catholic churches since the start of 2020. This includes arson, which damaged or destroyed historic churches; spray-painting and graffiti of satanic messages; rocks and bricks thrown through windows; and beheaded statues.
Those who have information on who committed the latest act of vandalism at St. Andrew Church can contact the parish at 907-694-2170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.