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Vandals target rainbow flags at Unitarian churches

BOSTON -- Rainbow flags have been posted outside the open doors at Unitarian Universalist parishes for decades now, flapping against a tide of intolerance surrounding the gay and lesbian community.

But in recent years, the rainbow flag - a popular symbol of diversity and inclusiveness - has been ripped down, burned, and stolen in assaults that church leaders say are tantamount to hate crimes.

The Unitarian Universalist Association, which opposes discrimination against gay people, said marriage equality banners and rainbow flags have become easy targets because of congregations’ visibility and support of gay, lesbian, transgendered, and bisexual issues.

In the past decade, seven Unitarian churches have reported at least 11 incidents in which rainbow flags were stolen or vandalized at parishes across the state.

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