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‘It’s meant to be intimidating and hateful’: Jamaica Plain church hit with anti-gay graffiti

A Jamaica Plain church that prides itself on welcoming the LGBTQ community was defaced with anti-gay graffiti early Thursday, the pastor said.

The graffiti, which included anti-gay slurs and the phrase “God does not love you,” was sprayed across the base of the steeple area of First Baptist Church on Centre Street, said Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird.

“It’s obviously meant to be intimidating,” Wiest-Laird said. “It’s meant to be intimidating and hateful.”

She provided a photo of the graffiti, which also said that LGBTQ people “should die.”

According to a copy of a Boston police report, an officer responded at 8:22 a.m. to a report of vandalism at the church. The officer saw the graffiti, which also included “Your God is a fraud,” scrawled on a gray wall, the report stated.


A church official, whose name was redacted from the report, told police that after speaking with a postal worker who had parked near the building, “the incident happened between 2:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.”

Wiest-Laird, said the church has surveillance cameras but not in an area that could have captured the perpetrator. Video surveillance at a post office across the street could possibly be helpful, she said.

“I’m still in angry mode,” Wiest-Laird said. “And I’m probably ... hitting sad, I’m realizing. It makes me want to cry. I mean, anybody who, this is how you want to spend your time, to make a point of being hateful.”

Suffolk District Attorney Kevin R. Hayden condemned the vandalism.

“This dangerous, hurtful messaging is an instant reminder of the hatred within too many hearts in our city and cities across the nation,” Hayden said. “We will do everything possible to protect members of the LGBTQIA+ community in Boston and Suffolk County. But our efforts must be supported by national leaders in both parties speaking in unison against these insidious impulses in our society.”


Wiest-Laird said she’s concerned for members of her congregation, particularly those in the LGBTQ community.

“I think we all know that the tension is higher and that hate crimes are on the rise,” Wiest-Laird said. “It does make me wonder about the freedom that people feel to be able to express their hate in a more public way.”

Wiest-Laird said church leadership will not waver in its support for LGBTQ parishioners.

“The response is ranging from ‘Wow’ to ‘I have tears in my eyes seeing that this morning,’ or ‘Wow, I never thought I’d see that kind of thing here,’” she said. In defiance, one person proposed having “the gayest vigil gathering on the lawn that we can tonight.”

Attorney General Andrea J. Campbell condemned the vandalism while speaking to reporters Thursday at an unrelated event.

“We’re just getting some news on that, which looks like a hate crime or definitely an attack on folks in our LGBTQ+ community, and of course an attack on that community is an attack on all of us,” Campbell said. “Because it’s Pride month, I recognize that there is intense fear in the community about celebrating who one is in this moment in time. We’re going to do everything we can of course to combat this hate.”

The church, founded in 1842, is an American Baptist and Alliance of Baptists congregation, according to its website.

First Baptist is also “affiliated with Welcoming & Affirming Baptists seeking full inclusion and leadership within our church of LGBTQIA+ people,” the site says. “We strive to seek the good of our world by serving our neighborhood and seeking justice in Jamaica Plain and beyond.”


Globe Correspondent Sonel Cutler contributed to this report.

Correction: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed quotes from Attorney General Andrea J. Campbell to Governor Maura Healey. The Globe regrets the error.

Travis Andersen can be reached at