Concern over swastika tile in historic church

A pastor and his congregation are facing a dilemma about a swastika tile on their church's floor

Longview Community Church

LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) — Outside of Longview’s Community Church, little has changed since it was built in 1923.

“Whenever we have done any kind of construction, we have tried to mimic whatever existed before,” Pastor John Williams told KOIN 6 News.

The pastor is also going to great lengths to preserve the pews, carpet and windows inside of Longview’s first church.

Longview's Community Church swastika tile
Longview Community Church’s swastika tile

However, there is one part that isn’t welcoming. In fact, it’s misleading and causing people to deface the front of the church.

One tile in the entryway is a swastika. It sits among hundreds of tiles — because 3,000 years before the Nazi party made it their emblem, the otherwise called Fylfot Cross was a religious symbol for cultures around the world.

“If they’re offended at the doorstep, then I don’t even get to say, God really loves you, you’re an important person in God’s eyes,” Pastor John says.

“We have, sad to say, more and more younger folks who have a very thin veneer of world history.”

The word swastika comes from from the Indian language Sanskrit and means ‘good’ and represents the sun and strength. But the pastor can’t find any record why the protestant church chose the symbol.

“And we don’t want that to be a stumbling block for people, we don’t want that to be an offense to someone… so I just want to remove as many barriers as I can, just tear them down because they get in the way,” the pastor says.

It would cost $1,000 to replace the 40 or so tiles, but in true tradition the pastor won’t throw them away. Instead, he wants to save that history for a shadowbox in the church museum.

“I’m certainly not one who wants to deconstruct the history or say history isn’t important because we need to know our history, but there’s some parts of history that people have access to in other places.”

The pastor is planning a town hall meeting for later this summer to hear from the public on the issue. You can see an explanation of the symbols below.

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