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Vandals Strike Assyrian Church Before It Opens

Detroit, Michigan -- Vandals target a place of worship and strike at a suburban church, leaving disturbing messages on its walls just weeks before it was set to open.

Eastern Orthodox St. Mary's Assyrian Church in Warren was scheduled to open on May 6, and the church may now have to delay its opening.

The Rev. Benjamin Benjamin said his congregation scraped and saved to build this sanctuary, and they are proud of the new church.

Eastern Orthodox are Christians from Iraq who trace their roots back to St. Thomas, Benjamin said.

He said whoever the vandals are, they don't seem to understand it's a Christian church. He said they spray-painted references to God and Jesus as if St. Mary's was somehow Muslim because the congregation is Iraqi in nationality.

The act was so blasphemous to those who worship there, Benjamin said, that it breaks their hearts.

"I came to America just to live in peace," St. Mary parishioner Dave David said. "It's too hard to understand who would do this to the house of God."

Another parishioner came to the church to see how extensive the damage was.

"I came here because I heard about it and I wanted to see how bad it was," Doreen Mikhal said. "I didn't think it was going to be this bad."

It will take a sandblaster and thousands of dollars to clean up the vandalism, Benjamin said.

Warren Mayor Mark Steinberg said city officials are aware of the situation and vandalism will not be tolerated.

Warren police added they are continuing their investigation and will be adding extra patrols in the area of 14 Mile and Ryan roads.

www.clickondetroit.com


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