A homophobe threatened to use a crowbar to wreak havoc on a church in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn because of its support of LGBTQ people.
Councilmember Justin Brannan, who represents that area, announced on Twitter that he was “absolutely horrified” to learn that a man left a voicemail for the pastor of Union Church of Bay Ridge on the afternoon of April 17 and vowed to destroy the place after seeing a rainbow flag sticker posted on a sign outside of the building.
According to Brannan, the man said, “Take [the flag] down or lose everything!”
A spokesperson for the NYPD told Gay City News on April 19 that the suspect is not known at this time, but the department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the case. Police say he threatened to break open the sign, add a sticker of his own, and remove the rainbow sticker if Union Church officials refuse to take it down. A spokesperson from Brannan’s office confirmed that the church reached out the councilmember to inform him of the threats.
The church’s pastor, Reverend Bob Anderle, did not return phone calls and emails regarding the alleged attack by press time.
Brannan ripped the alleged suspect in a statement on social media.
“Let me be very clear: in this city, people are unequivocally free to love, and worship, whomever they choose,” Brannan wrote in a tweet. “I stand with Rev. Bob Anderle and will do everything in my power to protect the Church and its congregants.”
The church, located at 7915 Ridge Boulevard, states on its website that it is a member of Parity, formerly known as Presbyterian Welcome, which “works for the full participation of individuals in contexts of faith, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.”
The church also states that, as part of its mission, it “is an open, accepting community where all people can find belonging, fellowship, and support.”
Brannan’s tweet drew some hostile responses from folks who dismissed the threats at the church.
“You’re spending a lot of time on this … it’s pathetic,” one person whose Twitter handle is @resident_nyc wrote in a response to Brannan. “Thousands of people live in this district and you are focusing on one idiot, and blowing an issue up that was already addressed so you can try to score political points from it.”
Another user wondered why the American flag wasn’t posted on the sign instead of the rainbow flag.
The threat follows a wider trend of attacks on churches. Several predominantly black churches in Louisiana were burned down earlier this month and the NYPD arrested a man on April 17 after he tried to bring two cans of gasoline and lighters with him into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.