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Arrest made in Indiana church vandalism: The organist

Arrest made in Indiana church vandalism: The organist

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.


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Miguel O'Neill

David, you are either very naive or just being disingenuous when you say nobody compare Trump to Hitler (paraphrase). This is done on a regular basis by many radical leftists who are simply saying it to show just how much they hate Trump. I think you know this.
Nathan clearly was doing this, and it seems like you would agree with him. I strongly disagreed with Pres. Obama on just about everything, but I never referred to him as the Antichrist, Hitler, Stalin, Genghis Khan or anything else. Anybody who did was just as wrong as those who use the Trump/Hitler analogy. Anybody who does this diminishes the awfulness of those evil people and demeans the millions of honest, patriotic and “good” people who voted for their candidate for President. It’s like labeling everything you don’t happen to like or agree with as “hate”. The word loses it’s meaning and it is simply used to demonize those with whom you disagree rather than engaging in honest and civil dialogue.
As for your assertion that there were “neo-Nazi” and white rascist supporters front and center blah, blah, blah… the fact that there are always people like this on the fringe of EVERY movement is obvious to any honest observer, right? I could easily point to numerous examples of this on either side of the political landscape, but won’t waste my time. This fact does NOT de-legitimize the movement or group in question. Millions upon millions of hardworking, honest and decent Americans supported BOTH candidates in the last election, but the constant complaining about hate, intolerance, Hitler-esque behavior etc, etc. doesn’t help your “cause” although I guess it probably makes you feel better.
Finally, I did NOT make any kind of judgment (NOR was I “fretting”) about his salvation. I simply point out that since I do not know his true spiritual condition, I would assume for the sake of my point that he was. Re-read my initial statement and don’t read into it more than is there.
Nothing personal David, but I have already wasted far too much time on this discussion, so I will give you the last word and sign off now. Adios.

David Allen

Vaya con Dios, Miguel.

Perhaps reread your own posts and pick up on the little ways you have of insulting people rather than just stating your points. I’m not naive nor disingenuous, just someone who strongly disagrees with your point of view. It isn’t your place to determine whether anyone else may or may not be a Christian, especially a true Christian, whatever that is. If someone has very vocally made a point about being Christ-follower, then observing how that comes out publicly in their daily life is a different issue.

Ta, ta for now.

David Curtis

St. David’s rector posted a statement to the St. David’s community. It can be found at I will hold them in prayer as they walk this road.

JC Fisher

Argh. Every time someone actually commits one of these “False Flags” attacks, they EMPOWER exactly the side they oppose. Since I happen to oppose Trump, too, that’s who Mr Stang has strengthened. Thank you oh so very much. /s

Miguel O'Neill

So implying that President Trump (and by association anyone who voted/supported him) are Nazis is NOT a “hate crime”?? OK, but it seems kinda….”hateful” to me even if it’s not an actual crime. Young Nathan need not have been so “fearful” and I notice that he did not confess his sin until confronted with evidence of his guilt. I also didn’t see anything about repentance or asking for forgiveness.
Hope for his sake and his testimony as a Christian (assuming he is saved) that he uses better judgment in the future.

David Allen

Many of us were and still are fearful.

The crime was defacing the church. It doesn’t qualify as a hate crime because it wasn’t actually perpetrated by someone with extreme beliefs who chose the church to attach its perceived beliefs. But no, I don’t think that it’s hatred that causes some of us to compare the US president with Nazi Germany.

I don’t understand the “assuming he is saved” comment.

David Allen

I don’t think that anyone at this juncture views D Trump as yet equal in despicability as A Hitler. However, A Hitler wasn’t yet what he became when he first rose to office. Many do see parallels in the offensiveness & vociferousness demonstrated in A Hitler’s campaign and that of D Trump. Many of the same groups feel threatened here today as then. Please don’t let your own personal tendency to hyperbole and ad hominem name calling blind you to the very visible presence of neo-Nazi and white racist supporters for D Trump front & center throughout last year’s presidential campaign season.

As to the organist’s position regarding his salvation, neither you nor I are the judges. Many organists play where they are hired and are not necessarily a member of the denomination or faith that gave them a job. Fretting about his salvation or whether he is a true Christian seems more an opportunity to belittle him. Similar to branding former president Obama and former Secretary of State Clinton as radical leftists.

Miguel O'Neill

OK, David let me clarify:
1. For somebody to compare President Trump with “Nazi Germany” (I assume you mean A. Hitler since Nazi Germany refers to a country) is extreme by it’s very nature. I understand the liberal (and homosexual) dislike of Pres. Trump since his policies are opposed to the radical leftist policies of Obama and Hillary. But your comparison is ludicrous and demeans the millions of people who suffered and died under Nazi Germany regime! To call someone a Nazi simply as an ad hominem hyperbole is just childish and pathetic.
2. I wrote “assuming he is saved” because I don’t know if he is a true Christian (i.e. not simply an Episcopalian church goer) or not.
Hope that helps…

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