by Steven Ertelt
August 12, 2005
Waterloo, IA (LifeNews.com) — Local police have arrested a man who allegedly knocked down an Iowa church’s cross display memorializing the unborn children who have died from abortion. They found the man in a white van trying to drive over the crosses and suspect he was responsible for knocking them down a previous time last week.
Last week, someone knocked down the cross display at Ascension Lutheran Church. Church members arrived last Saturday morning to fix the display after vandals hit it Friday.
The traveling display then moved to Concordia Lutheran Church and police received reports of a man in a white van running over the crosses at 1 a.m. Friday morning. The van left and returned again later to run over the crosses some more and police apprehended the driver, 29-year-old Justin Saint John Haes from Waterloo.
Police charged him with drunk driving, criminal mischief and other charges and say he admitted to running over the crosses.
No one filed a police report on the Ascension Lutheran Church incident and there’s no word on whether Haes will be charged with that vandalism.
After the vandalism there, Ascension assistant pastor Thomas Jahr told the Waterloo Courier newspaper, "We would have never guessed we would hit such a nerve with people. Obviously we have offended people who have a different belief."
The display is part of a traveling "Witness the Crosses" display with about 1,600 crosses that moves from church to church to draw attention to the result of more than 30 years of legalized abortion in the United States.
The display was set up in two sections on Friday morning and by noon part of the display that was visible from a heavily trafficked local street had been toppled.
"Some of them were damaged. It doesn’t take much to damage them. We put them back this morning and we had motorists stop by and encourage us," Jahr said.
Whoever vandalized the display left a note telling the church they could not put up crosses on private property.
"That’s ironic. It was on private property. It just so happens to be our private property. It was very legal to put up the display. We even talked to the city and had no problem," pastor Roger Twito told the Waterloo newspaper.
The display, which is scheduled to be set up at the church through Thursday, did not cause any problems when the church put it up two years ago.