Michigan community shows support for Chaldean Christians following vandalization of church

By Martin Barillas
Parishioners at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Troy MI, and members of the wider community, are still in shock over hateful messages scrawled on the exterior walls of the church that appeared on the morning of March 8. There have been no announcements of leads in the case. However, a spokesman for the local police department said “The City of Troy will not tolerate any ‘hate’ crimes.” Officer Andy Breidenich vowed that his department will “investigate any leads to discover and prosecute those displaying such hatred in a criminal manner.”

The messages, which read “(Expletive) you” and “U R dead,” were discovered by worshippers as their arrived for the morning liturgy on March 8. Scrawled in orange paint, the messages were removed from the white walls of the church by a cleaning crew after they were discovered.

Rev. Rudy Zoma, who is the pastor at St. Joseph’s, expressed gratitude to the surrounding community for the support received. Rev. Bob Cornwall, pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church, offered support to the parish. He compared the vandalism to an incident that happened in February at a Sikh temple in nearby Sterling Heights, where vandals spray painted similar messages.”This is simply not acceptable in our community,” said Rev. Cornwall.

The church has been located on Big Beaver Road in Troy for the last 30 years. This is the first time that it has been targeted by vandals. “If someone has any issue with anything political going on in the world today, I think they need to know that the church has been preaching this message of peace and respect and human dignity,” Rev. Zoma told WXYZ-TV on March 8.

Many of the parishioners at St. Joseph’s hail from Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries where the Christian minority, which has lived there since the earliest era of Christianity, have been subjected to increasingly persistent and deadly violence.