DESECRATION: Religious statues decapitated, vandalized outside New Jersey church
Virgin Mary, Jesus statues broken and smashed in Gloucester County
For some inexplicable reason, statues outside the St. Mary's Malaga Church in Gloucester County, New Jersey have been decapitated, vandalized and smashed. Members of the church are shaking their heads in sad disbelief at the senseless act.
"For a statue to be defamed in this way in this very holy ground and this very holy church it is crushing to me," long-time parishioner Cynthia Hetzler says.
The vandalism is believed to have occurred between 2 and 4 a.m. Thursday morning. The parish has a 24-hour prayer group, so someone is almost always at the sanctuary. No witnesses have come forward as of yet, according to Franklin Township Police.
Investigators say they'll review surveillance from businesses down the street. Chief Michael Rock says that the vandalism charges could be upgraded to a hate crime following an investigation.
"If we could determine that this was the result of a bias incident, then obviously the charges will be enhanced," says Rock.
The person responsible clearly has it out for the church. "These are important symbols of the Catholic faith and in that way when you attack the symbols of faith you attack the faith," spokesperson for the Camden Diocese Peter Feuerherd says. The church will go through insurance to have the statues rehabilitated if possible.
Another notable act of church desecration in the United States occurred earlier this year, when a man disrupted services at a Lakeville, Minnesota church by dumping a jar of urine on the altar last April.
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