GILLETTE — Sometime overnight Thursday, July 15, Central Baptist Church was vandalized.
The church’s pastor, Scott Clem, said he believes it was targeted because of a Facebook post Clem made earlier this month about a transgender magician that was coming to perform a magic show at the Campbell County Public Library.
Friday morning, Clem found that Rainbows and phrases such as “TRANS LIVES MATTER,” “God loves all” and “LOVE THY NEIGHBOR” were painted on the church building.
The graffiti cost about $200 to clean up.
Clem said churches face these kinds of problems all the time.
“Unfortunately, it’s not all that surprising. Being in the ministry, it’s not uncommon that we have alcohol bottles or trash thrown into our property,” he said. “It stinks that someone went to that extent that they thought they could trespass on private property and deface someone else’s property that wasn’t theirs.”
Clem said it was another church that organized last Wednesday's protest at the library, and that Central Baptist “played very little part in all of this beside the social media post I put on my personal account.”
On July 8, Clem made a Facebook post on his personal page questioning why the library was bringing in a transgender magician, Mikayla Oz, to perform in front of children, “on the heels of a month where the library was actively pushing sexual topics to your teens.
“What concerns me is that these types of events are orchestrated, not simply for fun and entertainment, but as a cover to introduce and glorify something more insidious and harmful,” he wrote. “And so as a pastor and parent I have some questions. Is this simply a fun little magic show? Or is the magic show a cover for this person to talk about sexual issues with our teens?”
Clem, a former state House rep, has been vocal on a number of issues the last few years, and as a result he’s received quite a bit of criticism.
“If you put yourself out there, if you stand on your convictions, some people aren’t going to like that,” he said. “That just comes with living in a free society.”
Clem said he was prepared to deal with more than just the vandalism over the weekend.
“That same morning we’d gotten word that the LGBTQ community was going to put on a protest in front of our church during our Sunday morning services,” he said.
He was prepared to stand outside that morning and preach his message to the protestors. But the Gillette Police Department, which was monitoring the situation, informed him that the protest had been called off.
Sunday, he had people from other churches in the area, as well as people from Denver and Cheyenne, in attendance.
“It was pretty amazing. I’ve never seen the Christian community quite so unified over something like this,” he said.
Clem said Christians in Gillette and Campbell County are tired of the “cultural decay” that is happening in their community as well as across the country, and that’s why they’re speaking up about it.
“We’re sick of our children being groomed by predators. We’re sick of our children being recruited into a sinful lifestyle,” he said. “We know that sin hurts people. Society doesn’t understand that, calls us haters and bigots. If you love people you tell them the truth. We weren’t trying to be jerks for Jesus.”