FBI offers reward over anti-Mormon
graffiti attacks in Idaho
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[February 27, 2014]
By Laura Zuckerman
SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - The FBI on
Wednesday offered a $5,000 reward for help tracking down vandals who
spray-painted anti-Mormon graffiti on three churches in a spree of
defacements that left a predominantly Mormon town in southeastern Idaho
shocked and puzzled.
The phrases and graphics - which included inverted crosses, "Die
Mormons" and "Brigham Young was a rapist," an epithet against the
early church leader - were emblazoned on doors and sidewalks at
three Mormon meeting houses, or churches, in the town of Chubbuck.
The graffiti attacks, first noticed on November 7, have bewildered
the town of some 14,000 residents whose culture is largely shaped by
the dominance of the Mormon faith, known officially as the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"It's an organization of faith, and what was said are potential
threats," said William Facer, spokesman for the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, which is seeking help in a multi-state investigation
into what it regards as a hate crime.
Law enforcement officials are not aware of another recent case in
which Mormon churches were the target of hate crimes in a region
that encompasses Utah, Idaho and Montana, Facer said.
Idaho is second only to Utah in its percentage of members of the
Mormon faith, whose worldwide adherents number 15 million.
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Tensions over the church's influence in Utah and in contiguous
Western states like Idaho and Nevada have periodically erupted in
anti-Mormon outbursts, said Philip Barlow, professor of Mormon
history and culture at Utah State University.
(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Writing by Eric M.
Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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