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A Hindu temple off Bardstown Road was vandalized this weekend in what city officials are calling a hate crime.

Vandals broke into the Swaminarayan Temple sometime after its Sunday service and spray painted crosses, curse words and the phrases “Jesus is the only lord” and “Jesus is almighty” on the walls inside. There was also a knife left stabbed into a chair in the main sanctuary.  

Swaminarayan Temple vandalizedKyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

Spray painted letters “Jesus is the only lord” near the temple entrance

Members discovered the vandalism when they re-entered the temple Tuesday.

At a news conference Wednesday, officials spoke out against the crime.

State Representative Nima Kulkarni called the vandalism an act of divisiveness. Kulkarni is Kentucky’s first Indian-American representative, and she invited people to join her, Mayor Greg Fischer and others on Saturday at 10 a.m. to help clean up the vandalism.

“I know that we’re better than this. I know that our community is stronger than this,” Kulkarni said. “I urge everybody to not be misguided by the act of hate here — to help us on Saturday to erase the words of violence from this place of peace.”

Swaminarayan Temple vandalizedKyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

Fischer, Conrad, Kulkarni and others speak inside the temple’s main sanctuary

Temple member Raj Patel said the incident raises concerns for him and his kids. Patel said nothing like this has happened at the temple in its five-year history.

“We come here to worship. We should not have to turn our backs to see who’s behind us,” Patel said. “My concern is, what do we teach the kids? So if they come in here and see what was written over there, I don’t want them to think that all Christians are bad.”

Patel said there could be changes coming to security at the temple. He said members have talked with the police and they may patrol the area more often and increase visibility.  

Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad said officers are working to find the perpetrator.

If you have information about the vandalism, you can call the Louisville police tip line at 574-LMPD.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.