Carlsbad Church of Christ vandalized

Pilgrim Church in Carlsbad vandalized before showing anti-war film
By: GARY WARTH - Staff Writer
North County Times
Sep. 17, 2006
Story source, photo NC TIMES.

CARLSBAD ---- A vandal smeared the white doors of Pilgrim United Church of Christ a blood red before dawn Saturday, just hours before the Carlsbad church was scheduled to show a movie about the war in Iraq.

The Rev. Madison Shockley said there never has been this type of vandalism at the church before, and he believes it was in response to the film.
"There's just a great disappointment that someone would do this to a church," he said. "It's really outrageous that someone would do this. There's no sanctuary for people to express their feelings."

The church showed the film, "The Ground Truth," [requires Flash 8 or better to download] on schedule at 2 p.m. Shockley said about 60 people watched the film, and he hopes to schedule it again. He asked people to call the church at (760) 729-6311 to learn when it will be shown.

Carlsbad police Lt. Marc Reno took a report about the vandalism at 8:24 a.m. and said it appeared to be red paint. The sidewalk in front of the church doors also was covered with red drops.

Shockley said the red marks were easy to wash away, so they might have been made with fake blood commonly sold before Halloween. The doors and sidewalks were clean before people arrived to see the film.

"The Ground Truth" is a documentary about troops who experienced fighting in Iraq. New York Times reviewer Stephen Holden called it "an especially pointed indictment of the American military's treatment of its own people on and off the battlefield."

Shockley said Pilgrim is a progressive church that takes stands on social issues such as gay rights, immigration and the war. Signs on church grounds addressing those issues sometimes have been vandalized, and he said his wife's car has been vandalized twice in their driveway at home. He said her car was scratched with a sharp object once and a swastika and an offensive word for homosexuals was painted on it another time.

Shockley said he didn't mention the vandalism to the church doors before the film was shown Saturday, but he brought it up in a discussion afterward when a parishioner said he was nervous to put a political bumper sticker on his car these days.

"I said, 'Funny you should bring that up,'" Shockley said. Parishioners gasped when he told them the news.

"This is not what people expect," he said. "They were extremely disappointed, if not appalled."

Shockley said he will talk more about it in his sermon today.

"It's going to be about the challenge of being prophetic," he said. "When a church stands up against the conventional wisdom of society, it becomes subject to a lot of challenges and persecutions. We've got to persevere in spite of the cost. We are undeterred. We will continue. We feel called to speak out for peace."

Yvette Urrea contributed to this story.

Contact Gary Warth at (760) 740-5410 or

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