A Tennessee man broke into and vandalized a Connecticut church that welcomes LGBT worshipers, according to police.
Charles Yarbrough, of Nashville, was charged with a hate crime, burglary and criminal mischief in connection with the incident at Mary Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church in Milford, reported the Connecticut Post.
The church has displayed a colorful sign since February that announces: “To be clear if you are queer LGBTQIA+ you are affirmed here!”
The sign went up after a vote by the General Conference of the United Methodist Church strengthening a ban on gay clergy and same-sex marriages.
The Rev. Kristina Hansen said Mary Taylor Church has long-standing support for same-sex unions and gay clergy.
The church has been vandalized twice in the past week, but police haven’t said whether the 30-year-old Yarborough was suspected in the first incident.
Police said the first attack, on June 27, targeted church symbols, including a large hole gouged in an antique wooden kneeling rail inside the church and slices cut into chairs on the church altar.
Hansen said the vandal got into the church while it hosted a community meal for the homeless and other needy people.
Police said Yarborough damaged the pastor’s office door on July 1 with a box cutter.
Yarborough told investigators he damaged the pastor’s door because she and her church “were supporting and pushing the LGBT agenda,” police said.
Hansen said the attacks would not change her church’s position on LGBT rights, and she promised to pray for Yarborough and others who were struggling with social changes.
Yarborough remains in police custody on $50,000 bond.