NEWS INDIA TIMES

www.newsindiatimes.com – that’s all you need to know Cover Story 5 News India Times February 15, 2019 By StaffWriter he gross vandalism didn’t achieve its objective. The Swaminarayan Temple in Louisville, Kentucky, withstood the hateful desecration, and xenophobic messages. The devotees and the faithful still throng it daily, and importantly, the community in Louisville – Muslims, Christians, and oth- ers, gathered with their Hindus neighbors to wash away the sins of a misguided youth, and did aarti, prayer, together inside the temple premises, in a grand show of faith. A 17-year-old was arrested in connection to a case of vandalism at Swaminarayan Temple, a Louisville Hindu temple on Bardstown Road, reported the ABC affiliate local television station. Authorities say the teen broke windows and spray- painted “repugnant messages of hate” and black crosses inside the Swaminarayan Temple sometime between January 27 evening and the morning of January 28. Police Chief Steve Conrad said there were xenophobic and sexist messages and someone spray-painted the eyes of a Hindu religious figure with black paint. The juvenile was charged with burglary and criminal mischief for the vandalism, and while police cannot charge a suspect with a hate crime, LMPD Sgt. Russell Montfort said the crime was clearly connected to religion. “There was some religion aspect to it, clearly, and we did list in the report there was some bias with it being of a religious nature,” Montfort said. “We don’t necessarily charge as a hate crime, that is something that the courts, the sentencing judge, will take into consideration.” HuffPost reported black paint was sprayed onto a poster depicting a religious figure, and the temple’s walls were covered with black crosses and phrases such as “Jesus Is The Only Lord” and “Jesus Is All Mighty.” A knife was reportedly plunged into a chair in the temple. A message spray-painted onto a bulletin board at the temple read had the word “foreign” followed by an exple- tive, Fox affiliateWDRB reports. Temple spokesperson Raj Patel told the news station that this last message indicates that the vandalism was “not about just a god.” “It’s about a race or someone’s skin color,” he said. Temple attendee Suhas Kulkarni said he was relieved to hear that someone had been apprehended, but said that lack of information or disinformation about Hindu culture is something the temple hopes to change, ABC News reported. “We want to go out and help,” Kulkarni said. “If there is misinformation or disinformation, we want to go out and dispel it — not just for our safety, but in general for the good of the community.” The Hindu American Foundation, a national advocacy organization, condemned the vandalism. “We at HAF are shocked but sadly not surprised by this ugly incident of vandalism, apparently by Christian supremacists unable to tolerate minority faiths in Louisville,” Jay Kansara, the HAF’s director of government relations, said in a statement. Seventy-six percent of adults in the state identify as Christian, including 49 percent who say they are evangeli- cal Protestant, according to the Pew Research Center. About 2 percent of Kentucky adults are from non- Christian faiths. Fewer than 1 percent are Hindu. Conrad said that Louisville’s Sikh and Muslim commu- nities experienced threats in the past. He said there were heightened security concerns at the local Sikh temple in 2012, after the deadly Oak Creek temple shooting in Wisconsin. In 2015 vandals spray-painted derogatory, anti- Muslimmessages on the walls of the Louisville Islamic Center. At the same time, Louisville is also home to Festival of Faiths, an annual interfaith conference that promotes interreligious understanding and attracts speakers and attendees from around the country. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said that the graffiti left on the Swaminarayan Temple’s walls were “repugnant messages of hate.” He added that the vandals had written the words “God” and “Jesus” “in a spirit that all Christians would disavow and distance themselves from immediate- ly.” “This another example of the work we still have to do as a city and as a country to make sure that we live up to our ideals of equality,” he said. A call by Fischer to clean the premises of the vandalism saw an overwhelming response. Congressman John Yarmuth was one of those who showed up for the clean-up. “So incredible to be with hundreds of friends, neigh- bors, and worshippers who came out this morning to help clean up and restore Swaminarayan Temple. The power of our community is immeasurable,” he said. On the temple’s Facebook page, community members expressed their shock and distaste of the vandalism. Tootsie Gregory wrote: “wow what a turnout. i think the young man who did that should have cleaned it up with a toothbrush and maybe he would think the next time.” Another community member, Sara Clarke Turpin, who attended the temple services, wrote: “A packed house to clean up the graffiti and other damage that was done “in the name of Jesus” to the Hindu Temple in our Buechel neighborhood. The Jesus we know does not stand for hate, but for love. He heals, redeems, loves, accepts, includes.” Steven Harp had this to say on Facebook: “Apparently, a juvenile living in Kentucky went into private property, a Hindu Temple with his spray paint destroying property and spraying messages about his faith like “Jesus is All Mighty.” Also spray painting crosses on walls and over reli- gious items. What do you think the odds of that young vandalist coming from a Trump supporter family? These families push religious freedom so hard but when another religion moves in, this so-called ‘freedom’ appears to be reserved for one religion: their own.” Shelly Browning put the mood of the town succinctly, when she wrote: “So sad. We drove past there today and I noticed it. Can’t believe people who are “christians” would think this is right thing to do. They may be Christians but very misguided.” Another person from the town, Vicci Turner, wrote: “I am so sorry for the hate and disrespect shown to your Desecration & Redemption T Community members gathered at the Swaminarayan Temple in Louisville, Kentucky, to offer prayers and do a clean-up after an incident of vandalism. Courtesy:SwaminarayanTemple Scores of people came to repair the damage done to a Hindu temple in Louisville,Kentucky, after police arrested a juvenile suspect Hundreds of supporters cleaned, painted, and stood in solidarity with the Swaminarayan Temple. Continued On Page 6 Courtesy:SwaminarayanTemple Louisville/ Facebook State Rep.NimaKulkarni post

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