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Pro-immigrant Chicago church vandalized with swastikas, 'Rape Mexico' graffiti

  • Lincoln United Methodist, Chicago

    Lincoln United Methodist, Chicago  (Daysha Delvalle)

  • Lincoln United Methodist

    Lincoln United Methodist  (Daysha Delvalle)

  • Lincoln United Methodist, Chicago

    Lincoln United Methodist, Chicago  (Daysha Delvalle)

A Chicago church that has long been a vocal on immigration reform and has been the meeting place for immigration activists was defaced twice this week.

For the last two mornings, neighbors of Lincoln United Methodist in the Latino-heavy neighborhood of Pilsen, have awoken to find swastikas and the words “rape Mexico” painted across the church’s glass doors.

The vandalism happened days after the Rev. Jessie Jackson gave an Easter Sunday sermon at the church that focused on the importance of immigration reform.

The Rev. Emma Lozano, who oversees Lincoln United and its sister church, Adalberto United Methodist, told Fox News Latino that part of the reason she and the church are being targeted is Jackson's visit.

But the biggest reason, Lozano believes, is the immigration rhetoric of the presidential campaign.

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In 2006 and again in 2014, Lincoln United gave sanctuary to a Mexican woman, Elvira Arellano, who was fighting deportation. She spent nearly a year inside the church each time, and in the process first moved to the center of the immigration debate.

“[The vandals] come like cowards in the cover of darkness. The rhetoric of scapegoating and blame has lit a wave of hate. People who claim they’re Christians, and then they’re talking about building a wall and deporting 12 million undocumented people, this is contrary to the Bible,” Lozano said. 

She added, “Jesus was a refugee. You can't claim to be a Christian and come to church on Sunday and not embrace all people.”

Pilsen has been home to immigrants since the 19th century, when it was home to Czech immigrants and named after a city in what's now the Czech Republic.

In the 1960s, the community began to attract Latinos in large numbers, and, by the 70s, they became the dominant population. Today 80 percent of Pilsen’s population is Hispanic.

Lozano says all she wants is an open dialog with people.

“If they’re threatened by the Latino majority,” she told FNL, “I wish we could just have a conversation.”

Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for FoxNews.com. She can be reached at rebekah.sager@foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager.