OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Church of the Ascension in Overland Park was vandalized just after 1 a.m. Sunday.
“It’s just crazy,” said Robert Arp, a parishioner of the church.
The vandalism left parishioners pained to see the damage stained in red.
“It’s an effort and intimidation to try to silence the church but to silence the people as well,” said Archbishop Joseph Naumann with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
In red, the words “My Body My Choice" were painted across the walls of Ascension Catholic School, which is connected to the church, along with a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“For somebody to be a coward and come in the middle of the night, apparently, and defame or deface property is gutless, and illegal and shows a lack of integrity,” Arp said.
Naumann says this vandalism is not the only of its kind, mentioning Value Them Both signs have also been targeted.
“We’ve seen others, not as extreme, but the stealing of signs and taking down of signs, graffiti on the signs.”
In the meantime, volunteers, church staff and parishioners scrubbed and brushed away the damage.
“We have to find a way to have civil discourse — we can disagree but we can still respect each other,” Naumann said.
The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas released an official statement that can be read below:
"An escalating pattern of theft, vandalism and intimidation targeting members of the Catholic Church and other supporters of the Value Them Both amendment reached a new level overnight when the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park fell victim to an overt act of hatred and incivility.
"Parish buildings, including a statue of the Blessed Mother, were extensively defaced with red spray paint. Authorities were notified and we ask that every action be taken to identify and hold the perpetrators of this despicable act accountable.
"'This attack and others targeting Catholic churches in Kansas and across the country are not only vulgar but un-American,' said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of the Kansas City in Kansas Archdiocese. 'The intention is clearly meant to intimidate and threaten the Church's pro-life beliefs and position of support for the Value Them Both amendment. We will not be deterred.
"'Value Them Both will secure protections from an unlimited and unrestricted abortion industry that is attempting to buy this election so it can further prey on women facing unplanned or challenging pregnancies,' he continued. 'The Catholic Church remains firm in its support of mothers and preborn babies and our members are more firmly dedicated to our mission than ever before.'
"We ask for prayers for the Church of the Ascension's parish community, for a civility leading up to the Aug. 2 vote, and for those committing these acts of vandalism."