June 14th, 2024

Anti-immigrant messages posted on church

By Jeremy Appel on July 17, 2018.

Submitted Photo
Anti-immigration posters were discovered on the doors of Westminster United Church on Sunday, July 15, 2018.

Southern Alberta Newspapers

Rev. Chelsea Masterman of Westminster United Church returned after a joint Sunday service with Fifth Avenue Memorial to discover her church had been defaced with racially charged, anti-immigrant posters.

The materials read “Immigration = White Genocide,” a slogan associated with a white supremacist conspiracy theory.

This was particularly distressing for Masterman, given the church’s past work with Saamis Immigration Services and involvement in refugee resettlement.

“The United Church traditionally has a fairly progressive stance around immigration,” she said.

The vast majority of biblical passages that discuss immigration command believers to be hospitable, said Masterman.

The ancient Hebrews are constantly reminded in the Old Testament that they “were also once foreigners in a strange land,” and “love your neighbour as yourself” is cited by Jesus as one of the most important commandments, she added.

“There’s always a few contradictory passages but the majority of the passages that talk about immigration, that talk about sojourners in a foreign land, call on you to welcome them and take care of them. Treat them as your own.”

Masterman says this was the first time Westminster had been vandalized in the four years she’s been with the church.

She immediately took the posters down and reported the incident to the police as hate speech.

“I realized it’s probably a bigger deal than just taking it down,” said Masterman.

MHPS Staff Sgt. Brian Christmann says the incident is under investigation but there are not yet any suspects.

The police have in their possession some pamphlets of a similar nature that were left on a car nearby, he said.

“I can’t say at this time 100 per cent that it’s hate literature,” said Christmann. “We’ll be looking at it and see what we can determine.”

Anyone with further information on the incident is urged to contact the police at 403-529-8481, or CrimeStoppers if they wish to remain anonymous at 1-800-222-8477.

Note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Chelsea Masterman’s surname.

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Bruce Masterman
Bruce Masterman
5 years ago

Good story overall. Important coverage of an unfortunate event. However, you spelled Chelsea’s surname correctly in the lead, then got it wrong in all subsequent references.

Chris Brown
Chris Brown
5 years ago

Thanks. It’s been corrected.