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A Hindu temple in Kentucky was vandalized with painted crosses and Christian hate speech targeting Hindus.

A 17-year-old white male is under arrest as a suspect in the religiously motivated act of vandalism. He was charged with first-degree criminal mischief and third-degree burglary.

The break-in at Swaminarayan Temple was reported Tuesday morning. Temple members found their place of worship desecrated with what police said were hate-filled religious phrases and black crosses. A knife had been stabbed into a chair and several doors were broken down, police said.

It’s only the latest act of hate against a religious minority in this country at a time, suggesting that religious freedom for all is nothing more than religious supremacy for some. If this culprit was trying to put fear into the Hindu worshipers, though, it didn’t work.

Temple spokesman Rajesh Patel said Friday that temple members were shaken up by the vandalism, especially when they saw a poster of their deity covered with paint.

“When you go and touch what’s sacred to us, that got people shaken up,” Patel said.

“Do we let a hate crime take over our lives or do we move forward? We will be back in service Sunday and we will be even stronger and even closer than before,” said Patel. “And we will educate our children, that this wasn’t an attack by a religion, but an attack by an individual.”

It’s a generous (and accurate) statement to remind everyone that one bad Christian doesn’t represent the entire faith, especially when religious minorities are all too often defined by their worst actors. Fortunately, even the most outspoken Christian politicians are standing behind the temple. Gov. Matt Bevin, who has received plenty of criticism on this site for his attempts to legislate his faith, called the act “reprehensible and inexcusable.”

There’s also a cleanup effort going on.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called the vandalism a “cowardly and unacceptable act” and urged the Louisville community to show their support for the temple and its worshipers by coming to an event scheduled for Saturday morning to help clean up the “repugnant messages of hate” left behind.

Janice Cates, director of the mayor’s Compassion Initiative, said they are expecting at least 100 people to attend the clean-up, including faith leaders from the Muslim and Christian communities of Louisville who have all shown an “outpouring of support.”

“This community really comes together in times of strife like this,” Cates added.

I only hope that this outpouring of support continues.

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