Vandals set fire at Florida church, spray-paint ‘Allahu Akbar’

A possible hate crime is under investigation after a fire was set at a Central Florida church, where vandals also spray-painted “Allahu Akbar.”

The incident happened around 3 a.m. Monday at the New Shiloh Christian Church in Melbourne on Sarno Road. About 1,500 members attend the church.

Melbourne police said officers and firefighters discovered the blaze after a fire alarm sounded. Arson was the expected cause, police said.

Fire sprinklers helped contain the flames to a storage unit connected to the 125,000-square-foot building.

The words “Allahu Akbar” were spray-painted on the storage unit. “Allahu Akbar” is an Arabic phrase typically translated as “God is great” and is a common expression used in various contexts.

….”To find something like that in 2015 is unbelievable. It’s just disheartening,” said New Shiloh Christian Church Bishop Jacquelyn Gordon. “They told us that this is definitely a hate crime and that they’re going to patrol our area even more and just look out for us and they thought it was senseless and I feel the same way.”

Police have not confirmed to Local 6[WKMG] that the case is being investigated as a hate crime, but say they are investigating the fire and vandalism as arson and criminal mischief.

“I would just say that everything is being looked at. All avenues are going to be explored. If it meets that criteria, that would be something that would be looked at,” said Lt. Cheryl Trainer.

Police told Local 6 they are hesitant to label the case as a hate crime because they don’t want to alarm the public. They said they will determine if the graffiti was done at the same time as the vandalism and arson to determine if it is, in fact, a hate crime. At this time they are calling it arson and criminal mischief….

By Daniel Dahm – ClickOrlando.com –

Ten Commandments Monument Reduced To Rubble

By F. Peter Brown – WesternJournalism.com –

The Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol has been destroyed, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The monument had been disputed in a lawsuit by the ACLU, which claimed that it violated the state’s ban against using public property to support church or religion.

Troopers responded at 7 PM Thursday to an abandoned vehicle that had been driven into the statue.

Patrol spokesperson CPT George Brown said: “We’ll process the scene and suspect vehicle to further the investigation in hopes of locating the responsible party.”

Both Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director, and Governor Mary Fallin commented on the destruction.

Kiesel said,“While we have and continue to seek the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the Capitol grounds through the judicial process, the Ten Commandments constitute a strong foundation in our clients’ deeply held religious beliefs. To see the Ten Commandments desecrated by vandals is highly offensive to them as people of faith. Our Oklahoma and Federal Constitutions seek to create a society in which people of all faiths and those of no faith at all can coexist as equals without fear of repressions from the government or their neighbors. Whether it is politicians using religion as a political tool or vandals desecrating religious symbols, neither are living up to the full promise of our founding documents.”

And Fallin said:“This monument was built to memorialize the historical significance of the Ten Commandments in guiding our own laws and lives. It is absolutely appalling that someone would vandalize anything at the Oklahoma State Capitol – the People’s Building – much less a monument of such significance.”

 
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