The Church of Latter-Day Saints Chapel at 701 Locust Lane, Moab, experienced a break-in and vandalism late Saturday night, Moab City Police reported. A member of the church reported the damage to the Moab Stake Presidency, who then contacted the police at 7 a.m. on Sunday. Officer Amanda Edwards responded.
In a police report, the damage was described as the word “CULT” spray-painted on multiple chalkboards, several pictures that had been pried off of the wall and two pictures “with black spray paint...blacking out Jesus’s face.”
Douglas Garrett, First Counselor of the Moab Stake, said that clean-up is underway and that the church’s members are not deterred by the recent crimes.
“This shouldn’t happen to any congregation of faith,” Garrett claimed. “We live in some very divided times, and we hate when this happens to us, other faiths or businesses.”
This occurrence comes a week after church members found the word “CULT” spray-painted on the chapel parking lot.
“This is an active investigation and at this point, we have no leads or additional information,” said Moab City Chief of Police Bret Edge on Tuesday.
Church staff explained to police that the chapel is usually secured with a key card system.
“There were no signs of forced entry, so we don’t know how entry was gained—whether a door was left open or whether someone used a key or key card to access the building,” Edge continued.
Another church affiliate reported seeing a white, four-door vehicle outside the church around 7 p.m. on Saturday night.
If apprehended, the intruders will be charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief and public safety violations. At this time the authorities have no suspects.
Though Garrett said that he doesn’t recall any other vandalism of Latter-Day Saint chapels in the Moab area, other Mormon churches around the state have dealt with this issue. On Christmas Eve of 2019, a 34-year-old man from Smithfield broke into and vandalized the Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Logan, Utah. Mormon meetinghouses in Ogden and Cottonwood Heights were also burned in reported acts of arson last summer.
“This is new to us, and we feel that we should always forgive and move on,” Garrett said. “But it's important that we have places of worship and that our members are not deterred by this. We will continue to practice our faith in our Savior.”
A group has been cleaning the damage since Sunday, and the Moab Stake has confidence that the police department will find and charge the perpetrators.
“I hope that whoever has done this will have a change of heart and see that there are better ways of doing things,” Garrett continued. “We have way more things in common than we do not in common. So we just need to work together.”