Sunshine Cathedral’s mission of love and acceptance isn’t accepted by everyone.

Over the weekend, several signs with vile messages targeting the LGBT community were left on Sunshine Square, part of the church campus. The signs were placed late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. They were clearly meant to intimidate LGBT congregants as they arrived for Sunday worship services.

The signs were written by hand in black and red marker, and read like the rambling manifesto of an unhinged, alt-right extremist. The signs attempt to link LGBT citizens to pedophilia and “grooming” and human trafficking of children. They also rail against COVID-19 masks, the United Nations, immigrants, Jewish people, and more, often citing long-discredited theories that remain popular in extremist organizations.

The signs weren’t placed on the sanctuary itself. They were found in Sunshine Cathedral Square, which is a separate set of buildings. Happening Out Television has its studio in one of the buildings, and the signs were just feet from where they produce LGBT news and entertainment productions, including Queer News Tonight, which broke the story.

“This is just one of many threats that have been made against the world’s largest queer church,” Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin said. “It no longer shocks me, but it still shocks me.”

Removed From View

Most people, including Sunshine’s ministerial staff, didn’t know about the attack. One congregant arrived early, saw the signs and, not wanting to worry others, took them down. Church officials say had they known, operations would have gone into full lockdown mode. SFGN has been told that no police report was filed, but video from security cameras is being reviewed. As of this writing, no suspect has been identified.

Sunshine Cathedral bills itself as “The World’s Largest Queer Church,” and is known for its welcoming attitude towards all, especially the LGBT community. In addition to being a spiritual hub, it also hosts recovery meetings, some of SunServe’s offices and programs, Happening Out Television Network, and more.

Despite the hate attack, Sunshine continues to operate. Sunday services will continue, Happening Out continues to produce its shows, and people still meet. While people are keeping their guard up, they are not allowing the attackers to win and will not be cowed into fear and submission.

Dr. Griffin said, “Nothing will prevent Sunshine Cathedral from being a welcoming place, and serving everyone in our community. Nothing.”

vandal2

Trend of Hate

While this is likely a “lone wolf” attack, meaning someone acting independently, it is part of a bigger picture. The LGBT community is under attack physically and politically. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law limits talking about anything LGBT in lower grades. Last year the legislature banned trans athletes from competing with the gender they identify with.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has voiced support for investigating parents who take their children to drag shows, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has called for the court to revisit the issue of marriage equality. A pastor in Texas has called for gays to be rounded up and shot. This creates an environment of state-sanctioned gay bashing, and can make people feel justified if they take matters into their own hands.

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies monitor hate groups and active threats. Just last month, a U-Haul full of people trying to disrupt an Idaho Pride event was stopped just before they arrived. In Lake Worth Beach, Pride On The Block was the victim of a credible threat made online. The person suspected of making the threat was arrested in Canada.

SFGN reached out to Fort Lauderdale Police who say they have seen an uptick in threats or are currently monitoring any credible threats.

vandal3


Full disclosure: John Hayden is a frequent contributor to Happening Out Television Network, including Queer News Tonight and It’s Happening Out. Photos provided by Queer News Tonight.


BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS