Faith leaders denounce vandalism at Lake View church advocating abortion rights: ‘We need to be stronger’

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As two women escaped last month after throwing rocks at a Lake View church touting a pro-choice sign, one was caught on video saying the movement “sends a message.”

“The only message I hear is that we need to be stronger,” said the Reverend Jason Lydon, minister of the Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, where church leaders and dozens of protesters gathered Sunday to condemn the August 23 incident.

“We’re doing this to say that we won’t be silenced by people trying to bully us,” Lydon told the Sun-Times.

Reverend Jason Lydon speaks at a rally at the Second Unitarian Church of Chicago on Sunday. The church was vandalized last month after posting a pro-choice message.

Tom Schuba/Chicago Sun-Times

A stained glass window was smashed, along with the shop window displaying the message which apparently drew the wrath of vandals, Lydon said. The case has since been resolved and the sign has been restored to read: ‘We support abortion on demand without an apology’.

Rabbi Brant Rosen, of Tzedek Chicago in Lincoln Square, said he was left “angry and mortified” when he learned of the “attack” at the Lydon church.

“It was clearly, obviously an act of violence,” Rosen said. “But it is important to remember that acts of violence do not happen in a vacuum. This is part of a general culture of incitement and violence that is taking place in our country with impunity, and with the incitement of our so-called leaders.

The landmark Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade “was in itself an act of violence,” added Rosen, who noted that the country was in the midst of a “war” for the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community.

The Reverend Elizabeth Harding, minister of religious education at the Second Unitarian Church, called abortion a “blessing of science” and insisted that the Supreme Court’s decision and “resulting vandalism” do not “promote life” to the “pro-life” rhetoric used by anti-abortion activists.

“We believe that these women who caused the vandalism are people of worth and dignity,” she said. “But how you choose to act – destroy part of our building and our sign – is also not a vital choice.”

When asked if anyone had been questioned, arrested or charged in connection with the vandalism, a Chicago police spokesperson could not provide updates, but said the investigation was in progress.

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Protesters hold signs during a rally Sunday outside Chicago’s Second Unitarian Church.

Tom Schuba/Chicago Sun-Times

Lydon said police investigators obtained video of the incident “through the media”, adding that the vandals were unfamiliar to him and other members of the congregation. If caught, he hopes to solve the case outside of a courtroom.

“I’ve spent many years of my adult life helping people through the court systems, and I’ve never really seen justice happen in the courts,” he said after the gathering. “And so I would be really interested in some kind of restorative justice, or transformative justice practice, where women have to pay back for the damage they’ve done.

“But more importantly, that they would engage in conversation and kind of participate in our peace circle process, where we could really hear them.”

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