Pastor Hopes Conscience Takes Over Church Vandal


UPDATED: Tuesday November 27, 2012 9:56 AM

The pastor of a Ross County church said that he did not want police to arrest the person who vandalized his church.

The vandalism was caught on camera, and investigators believe they have a good chance of finding the person behind it. But before police get the case, the pastor hopes the vandal gets a conscience.

Pastor Phillip Rutherford has led Christian Life Tabernacle for more than 20 years. They worship under the belief that serving God means serving your fellow man.

“We’re involved in the community. To be a good Christian, you’ve got to be a good citizen.” Rutherford said.

Rutherford was troubled by what happened on church property over the weekend.

“Saturday morning about 1 o'clock, somebody pulled on the lot, pulled back here, evidently tried to break in, and when they couldn't get in, they painted what looks like a backwards swastika to me,” Rutherford said.

The mark is a calling card of one of history’s most shameful chapters, a symbol in which this man of God sees only hatred.

“One of our oldest members, he's 92-years-old. He served in World War Two,” Rutherford said. “To me, that's a slap in his face.”

Rutherford remembered the veteran’s reaction when he saw the vandalism.

“You should have seen the look on his face,” Rutherford said. “You know, he risked his life to get rid of things like that, and then the church he goes to, that shows up right here.”

The Ross County Sheriff and his staff were on scene bagging a rope and a knife left behind. They also took a look at security camera video of the vandal pulling onto the lot and driving back to the shelter.

The footage shows darkness lit up by what appears to be the vandal taking photos of his or her handiwork. But despite all the evidence at their disposal, the Pastor says he doesn't want the vandal arrested.

“What I would like to do is have the individual call me, come clean this up, and if they do, we won't file charges,” Rutherford said. “If they don't, within a week, the tape and the pictures will go to the sheriff's department, they'll do what they do, and I’m going to prosecute."

The Ross County Sheriff told 10TV that he would respect Pastor Rutherford's wishes, but if the vandal does not come forward, he will move forward with investigation. He said it was possible the case could be handled as a hate crime.

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