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Edmonton-area pastor calls vandalized church sign hate crime, police say it’s not

A political sign put up by the New Testament Baptist Church in Spruce Grove was vandalized last week. July 5, 2016.
A political sign put up by the New Testament Baptist Church in Spruce Grove was vandalized last week. July 5, 2016. Craig Ryan/ Global News

A political sign put up by a Spruce Grove church was vandalized last week, spurring its pastor to call for the graffiti to be investigated as a hate crime.

The message on the sign references Bill 10, the Alberta government’s legislation that gives students the right to form gay-straight alliances in schools.

The sign was put up by the New Testament Baptist Church about a year ago as the government was working to pass its controversial legislation.

Originally, it said: “AMEND BILL 10 PROTECT PARENT RIGHT & RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.” However, someone recently wrote over the original message so that it now reads: BILL 10 PROTECT LGBTQ+ KIDS END BIGOTRY.”

“Just read the word bigotry,” Brian Coldwell, the church’s pastor, said. “That’s defamation right there, so because we believe the Bible and preach the gospel and want to follow Christian family values, why should we be targeted as hate-mongers? These are not just innocent words.”

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While Coldwell said he believes the incident should be investigated as a hate crime, the RCMP said it won’t be doing so because the message does not pose any threat to the church. Instead, it said it will investigate the incident as mischief.

“I’m going to follow up with the RCMP and ask them what their criteria is to label this as simply mischief, I think there’s far more to it than that,” Coldwell said.