To the vandal repainting the benches in Elsie Priest Park:

Recently, The United Church of Christ in Keene chose to repaint the benches that face Court Street in Elsie Priest Park, which is owned and maintained by the church and is open for the public to use. The decision was made after someone sprayed graffiti on one of the benches. In keeping with our commitment to an open and affirming welcome of all people, we chose the symbol of the rainbow to use when we repainted them. About a week after they were repainted as rainbows, you chose to vandalize the work by painting over our symbol of diversity and God’s universal love with red paint. My family and I joined together the following week to repaint the Church’s rainbows, and within a week, you came back and painted over them again.

As a member of the UCC in Keene, I would like to know what you’re trying to communicate. Many use the rainbow to symbolize diversity of cultures. Is it diversity that you object to? Rainbow flags are used often in Gay Pride parades these days. Is that what you object to, or perhaps that we, as a Christian Church welcome Gay, Lesbian and Transgender people?

Perhaps the colors orange, yellow, and violet specifically offend you? Noah saw a rainbow when the flood was ending and took it as a symbol of God’s love and peaceful intent. Is it God’s love that you’re trying to paint over?

My hope is that this letter might give you an example of a more direct and forthright method to communicate whatever you are trying to communicate. Let me reiterate that Elsie Priest Park is the privately held property of the UCC in Keene, as are the benches in it, and the way you’ve tried to make your point now is both unclear, and it is vandalism, a crime.

I sent a letter to the editor of the Keene Sentinel after the first vandalism, but alas it was not printed, despite the paper’s seemingly open policy towards letters. I will send this one to them too, and also post on Facebook in case they choose not to print this one as well.


Mark C. Harris,

Member of The United Church of Christ in Keene

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