A 32-year-old man who pelted several churches in Buffalo, Minn., with rocks and left behind posters with offensive messages about homosexuality has been sentenced to probation and community service for his crimes.
Wade E. Murray, 32, who lives about halfway between Buffalo and Rockford, was sentenced this week in Wright County District Court to five years’ probation and was ordered to perform 70 hours of community service. Murray must also remain on his medications for mental health treatment and submit a DNA sample to authorities.
Murray pleaded guilty in December to felony vandalism in connection with the targeting of the churches in late September of 2012. Authorities estimated damage to the churches at more than $7,500.
Police said doors and windows were broken Sept. 24 at four church buildings — St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Seventh-day Adventist, Hosanna Lutheran (Missouri Synod) and Buffalo United Methodist.
Inflammatory messages on posters dealing with religion and sexual orientation were left starting two days earlier at two of those churches — St. Francis and Hosanna Lutheran — and two others, Zion Lutheran and Buffalo Presbyterian.
Police said Murray told them that God and Jesus were talking to him and encouraging his actions.
The vandalism occurred just weeks before Minnesotans voted on whether the state Constitution should be amended to say that marriage is solely between a man and a woman.
Leaders in various religions had been involved in the public debate on that ballot measure, which failed. However, the damaged churches in Buffalo represent denominations that came down on different sides of the marriage amendment issue.