Following the presidential election in November, national attention turned to two Episcopal churches in Maryland and Indiana which were vandalized (see Cafe coverage here).
An arrest has been made in the Indiana case, just a few days after Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached there, and the congregation is shaken. From Episcopal News Service:
An organist has been arrested in the post-election vandalism at an Episcopal church in Indiana – an incident that generated national headlines in November as a possible case of politically motivated hate speech, but one that prosecutors now say was instead the act of someone hoping to mobilize others disappointed with the election results.
Nathan Stang, 26, faces a misdemeanor count of institutional criminal mischief for the damage to St. David’s Episcopal Church, the congregation in Bean Blossom, Indiana, where he serves as organist. He was arrested May 3, three days after Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry came to St. David’s to preside at the Sunday Eucharist and preach.
The congregation feels “like we had the rug pulled out from underneath us,” the Rev. Kelsey Hutto, priest-in-charge at St. David’s, told Episcopal News Service in a May 3 interview.
The investigators say the graffiti was not a hate crime – in a sense, the opposite, though as the Right Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows put it in a statement, “profoundly misguided.”
A statement released by Brown County Prosecuting Attorney Theodore F. Adams said Stang, when confronted with results of the nearly six-month investigation, confessed to spray-painting the graffiti himself.
“Stang stated that he wanted to mobilize a movement after being disappointed in and fearful of the outcome of the national election,” Adams said, adding that investigators concluded this was not a hate crime. “Stang denied that his actions were motivated by any anti-Christian or anti-gay motivations.”
Stang’s explanation, from a report in the Indianapolis Star:
“Over the course of that week, I was fearful, scared and alone, too, in my fear,” Stang told IndyStar. “I guess one of the driving factors behind me committing the act was that I wanted other people to be scared with me.”
Stang, who is pursuing a doctorate in music at Indiana University, has been organist for St. David’s for a year and played Sunday’s service, when Presiding Bishop Michael Curry visited, in town for Baskerville-Burrows’ consecration as bishop in the Diocese of Indianapolis.