The president of Al-Azhar, an Egyptian university, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, along with the leading members of the Islamic Research Academy, announced they were breaking off dialogue with the Vatican in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s criticism of Muslim violence against Christians. After he denounced the suicide bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria that killed 23 Christians, the pope called attention to “non-Muslims being oppressed by Muslim states in the Middle East.” For that he was accused of interfering with internal affairs and a boycott was announced for future Muslim-Catholic dialogue.
Thibodaux, LA – A landmark Catholic cemetery was vandalized, knocking bricks out of a 100 year old tomb, creating health and safety issues on the premises.
Hattisburg, MS – A breakin at Sacred Heart Catholic Church’s elementary school caused approximately $30,000 in damage. An antique statue of Jesus Christ was destroyed during the break-in.
Toledo, OH – Beverly Elementary School came under fire for a portion of its architecture; a feature on the side of the building, which the architect saw as a “plus sign,” appeared to be a Christian cross to others. After complaints about the building, school officials decided to revise the façade’s design.
Catholic League president, Bill Donohue, found it striking that this was even an issue at all—the fact that the school demanded a “fix” is proof of sanitizing faux religious symbols.
Baltimore, MD – Two Baltimore Catholic churches had statues vandalized. One was pushed off its pedestal and another had its based chipped.
Sterling, VA – A life-size statue of Our Blessed Mother was stolen from a Catholic church in Northern Virginia. The estimated cost to replace the statue is $1,000.
We issued a press release calling out attacks on the Church leading up to Easter:
• British comedian Ricky Gervais felt the need to offer a very public “Holiday Message,” notifying the world that though he is not a Christian, he is a very Christ-like person. In the message, he is wearing a crown of thorns and has a microphone strapped to his back, mimicking a cross.
• Lady Gaga released her single, “Judas,.” It begins with the words: “I’m in love with Judas.”
• Third graders at a Seattle school were told they must call Easter Eggs “Spring Spheres,” though the kids refused to cooperate.
• Adults in Munson Township, Ohio were ordered to remove the word “Easter” from “Easter Egg Hunt” and simply call it the “Egg Hunt.”
• Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, who in 2007 entertained the public with the hoax about Jesus’ tomb, was back again, this time claiming he found two nails used to crucify Jesus.
• Evangelist Rob Bell made the cover of Time because of his light approach to Christianity: sin and evil don’t exist.
• On Good Friday, James Frey—whom Oprah sized up as a fraud—introduced his book, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible. The book portrays Jesus as an alcoholic who lives in a filthy Bronx apartment, smokes dope, kisses men and impregnates prostitutes.
Brighton, MA – Vandals broke into a Catholic elementary school searching for valuables on Good Friday. A statue of St. Joseph was damaged in the robbery.
Wyandotte, MI – A man walked into Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church on Easter Sunday and stole a bag containing thousands of dollars from the church collection.
Roswell, GA – Vandals desecrated a statue of Jesus at St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church. When parishioners arrived for mass Easter Sunday, they saw the face and hands of the statue covered in red paint.
St. Paul, MN – Five upside-down crosses were spray-painted on the front of the Cathedral of St. Paul.
St. Paul, MN – Vandals spray painted upside-down crosses on the front entrance of the Cathedral of St. Paul.
Los Angeles, CA – A 780 year old relic was stolen from St. Anthony of. It was returned just days after its disappearance.
North East, MD – A tabernacle was stolen from St. Jude Mission Church. The vandals made off with a brass tabernacle worth $2,000, and caused an additional $8,000 in damages.
Cherry Hill, NJ – Statues from six churches were vandalized in Cherry Hill and Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and detectives called it a “hate crime.” There was an estimated $30,000 worth of damage done.
Deland, FL – A painting was stolen from the sacristy of St. Peter’s Catholic Church. The painting, called “Divine Mercy,” was a gift from the church pastor Tom Connery.
Cheektowaga, NY –St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church was vandalized by a homeless man. The man broke the face off of two statues by using a hammer, and knocked a third statute from its pedestal causing it to shatter. The estimated damage is $21,000. The man was charged with felony criminal mischief.
Antioch, CA – Thieves stole approximately 500 yards of copper wiring from St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Church. This was part of a string of thefts that included security cameras and air conditioning units being stolen.
October 15 or 16
Sag Harbor, New York – At the Bay Street Theater, actress Susan Sarandon recently discussed her 1995 movie, “Dead Man Walking”; the film was based on a book by Sister Helen Prejean that condemns the death penalty. During the discussion, Sarandon said she sent a copy of the book to the pope, saying, “The last one, not this Nazi one we have now.” After she received such a positive response from the crowd, Sarandon referred to the pope again as a Nazi.
Stanley and Anson Counties, NC – Several churches were vandalized with spray-painted hate messages. Some churches read “God is the devil” and “Go back to Africa.” In other places, racial slurs, swastikas and male genitalia defaced the walls. The worst instance of vandalism was at Cedar Hill AME Zion Church in Ansonville, where vandals broke into the church to destroy its interior. Every stained glass window in the church was smashed. Tables were overturned. A fire extinguisher was sprayed within the sanctuary. A small wooden cross was taken down from the wall and partially burned. A child’s tombstone had been removed from the historic slave cemetery and was thrown through a window.
Pittsburgh, PA – A homeowners’ association confiscated a 150-pound cement Virgin Mary statue belonging to a family who displayed it in front of their condominium. “”The homeowners’ association justified the removal of statue by saying that homeowners were banned by law from displaying anything on “common ground.” The family was fined for every month that the statue was displayed, and its right to park on its own property was suspended. The homeowners ‘association stated that it will keep the statue until the fine is paid.
Chicago, IL – Two men broke into the rectory at St. Margaret of Scotland Church and found 80-year-old Father Dan Mallette Sleeping. They demanded money, threatened to kill him, and beat him severely. Father Mallette sustained broken ribs and facial injuries. Police say the robbers got away with some money.
On July 4, the Kansas City Star ran this Pat Oliphant cartoon; the syndicated cartoon, originally released on June 28, was published elsewhere. It implies that the pope is a homosexual and a hypocrite.