Snohomish County church vandalized over New Year’s weekend

Jan 4, 2023, 5:09 PM
(Photo courtesy of The Pursuit) (Photo courtesy of The Pursuit)

The Pursuit, a Christian church established in 2014 in the Pacific Northwest, saw its Snohomish County campus marred with graffiti on New Year’s Eve.

“On Saturday night, somewhere in the late evening hours, our building got tagged with all sorts of language that’s probably not radio appropriate,” said Pursuit Senior Pastor Russell Johnson on The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Luckily, we had a facilities crew that works pretty hard around the clock, they were able to get there early Sunday morning and get most of it cleaned up before we were joined by about 2,000 folks from across the region for Sunday service.”

Johnson, who started The Pursuit alongside his wife Marija after a short-lived career in politics, stated this was not the first time his church has been the target of an attack.

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“We’ve been the target of vandalism, looting, and death threats, you name it,” Johnson said. “The church has kind of been a hot target, I feel, especially over the last two years.”

The damage has been mostly superficial, according to Johnson, as he details the multiple instances of graffiti that required a new paint job, smashed windows from thrown bricks, and some additional refurbishing for the building’s exterior.

Receiving a death threat, on the other hand, is when the church reaches out for help.

“We’ve had different death threats that have been leveraged against us,” Johnson said. “In fact, every week, we contract with the County Sheriff’s Office to hire off-duty police officers because of some of the threats that we get.”

Johnson believes the reason for the attacks stems from the church’s verdict to stay open during the pandemic.

“We made that rather controversial decision in the early days to open up and just be unapologetic that we were going to gather people who were still interested in gathering for the free expression of their worship,” Johnson continued. “And that really, I think, set off a firestorm that has actually increased in fervor over the last 24 to 36 months. At the same time, the church has rapidly grown and we’re really doing some incredible things. But I feel like that has made us a target amongst people who may not share our same political persuasions or ideological viewpoints.”

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Johnson revealed the state Attorney General’s Office threatened his church with fines upwards of $10,000 a day, and even jail time, for staying open and going against the governor’s mandates.

“I’m not interested in retribution, but I think it is important to notice that we are in a growing age of religious antagonism,” Johnson said. “And especially in a place like the Northwest, the default religion of this region is secularism, and it is on a crash course collision with Christianity.”

The Pursuit has a campus in Snohomish County, Seattle, and online.

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Snohomish County church vandalized over New Year’s weekend