A rainbow flag covering “United Methodist” on the Northaven Church sign was stolen on Wednesday, March 20.

The Rev. Marti Soper said a bearded, middle aged, white male driving a 2008 white Lexus parked in the Northaven parking lot and removed the rainbow flag covering. She filed a police report, including giving police the license plate number AND the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle involved.

According to a letter Soper sent to the congregation, “When confronted by a choir member, the individual responded with anger and with an unacceptable view of God that he acknowledged as the reason for his action.” The choir member took pictures of the car and license plate.

Soper also said the suspect said he’d vandalize the sign again if the rainbow covering were replaced. The rainbow covering WAS replaced, and as of this morning (Monday, March 25), the flag remains in place.

Many Methodist churches in Dallas covered the words “United Methodist” in their signs with rainbow flags or other materials, or have been flying rainbow flags, to protest a decision at the denomination’s recent General Conference to continue to ban same-sex marriage and to increase penalties for ministers who participate in or allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in their churches.

The car the man was driving is registered to a woman. The detective assigned the case said he has a suspect, who has no prior criminal record. The man could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. If hate crime charges are added, it would increase the vandalism to a Class B misdemeanor.

A second option is for the church to seek restitution with a stern warning from the detective to the suspect about any future vandalism at the church.

— David Taffet