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Leaders of the Chicago Unitarian Church say they won’t be intimidated after the Pride flag is burned

CHICAGO (CBS) — This week, an LGBTQ+ Pride was torched and destroyed outside a neighborhood church in Beverly, and members of the church have no idea why they’re being targeted near Pride Month.

Just ten days ago, Beverly Unitarian Church, 10244 S. Longwood Dr., held a major LGBTQ+ Pride event on its grounds for the first time in its history. Now that the Pride flag has been burned in what could have been a response, the council wants whoever was responsible to know that this act only gives more power to its members.

The Beverly Unitarian Church is located in the historic Givins Beverly Castle, which dates back to 1886. Members believe strongly in their values.

“We are about fairness and equality,” said Beth O’Grady, president of the church council.

Yet someone brought hate to the church’s front yard this week. The grass near where the flag flew was also burned, and Patrick Singler, director of The Beverly Castle Preschool at the church, believes the flag was burned there on the church grounds.

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“Really, I didn’t know what it was at first,” Singler said.

But reality soon set in for Singler, who came across the burned flag while coming to work.

“I was completely shocked,” he said. “I was wondering, I think they burned this flag. Did someone burn this flag?’

During June’s Pride Month, the church placed a Pride flag and colors in support of the LGBTQ+ community at the front. During the night hours someone decided to send a message.

“Some people were angry, very angry,” O’Grady said. “I guess I was just sad.”

O’Grady was saddened to see that hatred was a place of acceptance.

“People are so narrow-minded,” she said.

It was the beginning of the month when the church held its first Pride event. More than 100 people were present.

Members wonder if that attracts unwanted attention.

“When hatred is brought to you, you respond with love,” O’Grady said.

The church faced similar setbacks a few years ago when a Black Lives Matter sign was placed on historic Longwood Drive.

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“The church actually received death threats, so the sign stayed up for a while, but it’s back,” O’Grady said.

The church has weathered the controversy and is now doing the same.

More Pride colors were added to decorate the exterior of the church – a sign that the Beverly Unitarian Church will not be intimidated.

“We’re not going away. Our beliefs aren’t going away. Our trust in people is going away,” O’Grady said. “There to stay.”

The church filed a report with 311 and a report with the Chicago Police Department. Church leaders are grateful that the flames that destroyed the flag did not also spread to the historic castle.

To further show that it is not backing down, the church is also hosting a second Pride event at the end of the month in light of the incident.

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