The Martha’s Vineyard Island Clergy Group, which represents pastors from Vineyard churches of different denominations, has issued a statement in response to a rash of discriminatory vandalism at Island churches and a Falmouth synagogue earlier this fall.

“We felt that to remain quiet and not say anything was to legitimize the behavior and acquiesce to it,” said the Rev. Stephen Harding, rector of Grace Church in Vineyard Haven, who circulated the statement Tuesday.

In late September and in October, vandals applied stickers with homophobic messages to three houses of worship that fly the rainbow flag of welcome to people of all sexualities: The Methodist Trinity Worship Center in Oak Bluffs, the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury and the Unitarian Universalist in Vineyard Haven.

“We at Grace Church also fly the rainbow flag, but we have not had a sticker appear,” Reverend Harding said.

Vandals also struck the Falmouth Jewish Congregation in October, painting white-supremacist messages on an Israeli flag left at the synagogue the night after Yom Kippur, according to news reports.

The Island clergy statement avoids condemnation, but notes with concern “our current climate of rancor and divisiveness that many of us have not seen since the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.”

As well as being “deeply concerned by the erosion of civility and the current trend that relegates those who disagree to a demonized other,” the pastors expressed even more concern about “the motivations and actions of those who have taken their ideology to the next step of doing harm to others through their speech and actions.”

The homophobic vandals are hurting themselves as well as others, the statement continues.

“(T)o use hateful speech or commit an act that denigrates another human being or worse, in addition to the damage inflicted on that individual or group, does harm to those who take such action.”

The clergy statement took several weeks to prepare, Reverend Harding said.

“We’re going to stand together in our response that this is against all our values,” he said.