A Catholic church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania has been a target for vandalism many times in the past with minor glitches that could easily be repaired. This time, an unknown individual caused the church its most damaging act yet by setting ablaze a statue of Jesus.
Pastor John Mraz, who leads St. Ann's Catholic Church, was getting ready for Sunday morning mass on the early hours of February 2, when he saw an orange glow from outside. The glow ended up being fire that was burning the face of the statue of Jesus. Though the statute as a whole still stands, the charred, melted face was sufficient enough to destroy it.
Mraz told a local newspaper that many members of the church arrived that morning in a mixture of emotions. Some were emotional, crying and shedding tears while many were full of rage wondering who would go these lengths to burn off the face of Jesus.
There has yet to be an official motive for the burning or who started the fire. "I don't know if this is just hooliganism or someone is making an anti-Catholic or anti-Christian statement," said Mraz. The church is looking to replace the statue at a cost of $2,000.
Emmaus Police Officer Vincent Murante said that the case is being investigated. St. Ann's Catholic Church has already been at the receiving end of degenerate activity in the past. Other statues on the property have been knocked over and three years ago had the numbers "666" graffitied on the walls.
Though unsure, Mraz is suspecting that it is just random acts of violence, as opposed to being an orchestrated attack on the church itself. "It's probably hooliganism - some young adults letting off steam or something because if it was something aimed at the Catholic Church, for the defense of traditional marriage, I would think they would have lit the statue of Mary rather than Jesus," said Mraz.
The incident at St. Ann's Catholic church is one of many acts of vandalism on church properties that have recently been reported. The very same weekend, a church in Charlotte, North Carolina called the University City United Methodist Church was defaced. Sayings such as "open your mind before you open your doors" were graffitied all through the walls and no suspect has yet to be named in the case. Last month, the Sacred Hearts Church in Vineland, New Jersey was also vandalized. Similar to St. Ann's, the statutes were the targets, and in this church, the statue of Joseph was cut in half and the head of the Virgin Mary was knocked off.
"I cannot imagine what is going through the mind of a person that would deliberately go deface statues that are dedicated to our savior," said Deacon Richard Sampson. The recent attacks on Catholic Churches have yet to have an official motive as no suspects from any of the cases have been caught. However, these attacks are signaling that this type of denomination is being currently targeted and the different views on religion are powerful enough to implement violence and harm in a place that many come to worship.