A banner thief had to work extra hard to rip down a pro-life sign that Knights of Columbus Council #8160 placed outside the parish hall of Epiphany Roman Catholic Church recently, its leader told Shorebeat.
The incident has been reported to Brick police, who are currently looking into the matter, but the incident highlights what many believe is an increasing level of divisiveness and lack of civility when it comes to politics.
The sign was placed in front of the church’s parish hall building on Herbertsville Road near the intersection of Lanes Mill Road on Feb. 27. The banner showed a photo of a mother and her child with the words “Choose Life” written beside them. It also listed the phone number and website address of the National Life Center, a nonprofit organization that counsels and provides financial support to women who believe they may be pregnant and offers alternatives to abortion.
“It was up for less than a week,” said Bob Hermida, the Grand Knight of Council 8160. “I saw it on Sunday morning on the way to Mass, but then the next day, on Monday, I got a phone call telling me that it was gone.”
What struck Hermida was the amount of effort the culprit put into tearing down the banner.
“There were probably at least 10 gromets that were screwed into the backboard, and it appears that an initial effort was made to knock the whole structure down,” he said. “It was bent, and all the support braces were bent down. After that, it was either ripped off or cut off. Someone really took their time to make sure it came down.”
The banner was purchased for $130 from another Knights of Columbus council, which has volunteered to replace it.
“We contacted the council we bought it from, and we told them what happened and asked if it ever happened before,” said Hermida. “The person said they never had heard of something like this.”
The Knights are planning to place the new banner in front of the parish hall as well, though it will likely be better secured.
“It’s sad because we can disagree about things and express our opinion about things, but at the same time keep everything civil,” said Hermida. “If someone disagreed with the sign, they didn’t have to look at it or pay attention to it. “
In recent months, news archives show that pro-life banners have become a frequent target of thieves and vandals. Pro-life posters were torn down on the campus of University of Minnesota last fall, and in November, a pro-life display at the College of William & Mary was destroyed last year.
“We respect the views of others and, really, all we ask for is respect for our position as well,” Hermida said.