A man who referred to himself as the "Dark Lord" was arrested outside a Christian homeless shelter in Arizona after he admitted to burning and urinating on the Bible in an attempt to curse Christians.
Eric Minerault, 22, was arrested on suspicion of unlawful symbol burning outside the Gospel Rescue Mission around 9 p.m. last Thursday, according to Prescott police spokesman Lt. Ken Morney.
Minerault, who was dressed in a red and black robe and had a pentagram necklace draped around his neck, quickly admitted to the act when police arrived, according to Reuters.
He allegedly burned the Bible on the mission's front steps, where a burned and wet Bible was found at the scene.
He was booked into Yavapai County Detention Center on a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Dan Pochoda, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said the arrest raises questions as to whether Minerault's First Amendment freedom of speech rights were violated.
But Pochoda, who was not familiar with the charge cited, said courts have upheld laws that bar symbols like crosses from being burned.
This is not the only time in recent history that someone has been arrested in the United States for destroying a Christian symbol in this way.
The Justice Department announced in 2009 that Jacob A. Wingo, Richard W. Robbins, Clayton D. Morrison and Darren E. McKim pled guilty in Hot Springs, Ark., to civil rights charges and charges of making a false statement to a federal law enforcement officer after they admitted direct involvement in an attempt to burn a cross at their victims' home to intimidate the victims into leaving. .
"The defendants used a despicable and unmistakable symbol of hatred, the burning cross, to intimidate a young family because the family associated with African Americans," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division will continue to prosecute this type of illegal, hateful behavior to the fullest extent of the law."