BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Pro-choice messaging and anarchist symbols were found spray painted on the building of Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Boulder County on Wednesday morning.
"It was way worse than I had pictured in my mind," said Mark Evevard, the youth director at the church.
The Boulder County Sheriff's Office said the vandalism happened at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The vandalism was discovered along a truck in the parking lot and church signs on the property.
Parishioners believe the destruction is likely in response to the white crosses on the church lawn that symbolize the number of abortions in the United States.
"We care about the unborn, the sanctity of life all the way to death," Evevard said.
Evevard said he doesn't expect everyone to agree with the church's beliefs, but he does expect others to share their opinions in ways other than vandalism.
"It's sad because they obviously tried to do as much damage in as little time as possible," he said.
The vandalism comes three weeks after St. Louis Catholic Church, also in Boulder County, was tagged with pro-choice messaging and left with property destruction.
Around that same time, a Catholic church in Denver was also burglarized.
Evevard said he's not certain why others want to share their disagreement with a church's beliefs through destruction, but he said he's comforted by the responses the parish has received.
"Even pro-choice people saying, 'we're pro-choice but this is ridiculous and this is wrong.'" he said.
He added that Sacred Heart of Mary has encouraged parishioners to pray for those responsible for the vandalism.
"We do love people and we care about that person. I really do hope that the person or persons, you know, would get the help that they need, the healing that they need." Evevard said.
The Boulder County Sheriff's Office said those responsible could face criminal charges to include, criminal mischief, trespassing, bias-motivated crime or defacing property.
Sacred Heart of Mary plans to have insurance adjusters survey the damage in the coming days but estimates there will be thousands of dollars in repairs. For now, the church is leaving the graffiti to serve as an example to the community.
Mark Haas, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Denver provided the following statement:
"Since Feb. 2020, the Archdiocese of Denver is aware of at least 25 parishes or ministry locations that have been the target of vandalism, property destruction or theft. This has included broken windows, damaged and defaced statues, graffiti, vehicle damage, break-ins, stolen religious items and someone who set trees on fire outside of a parish. Some of the incidents have been clearly targeted at the Catholic Church, but not all of them."