Just like in years past, we were flooded with reports from across the nation about nativity scenes being vandalized.
Here is a sample of the stories that came to our attention:
· In Manchester, New Hampshire a five-foot tall figure of one of the Wise Men was stolen from a nativity scene that had been set up for 40 years.
· In a neighborhood near the University of Central Florida in Orlando, five statues of the Baby Jesus were stolen from residential nativity scenes.
· Two drunk men damaged figures of St. Joseph, one of the Wise Men, a donkey and the Baby Jesus in Pearl River, New York. The estimated damage was between $5,000 and $6,000.
· Vandals armed with machetes damaged a Christmas display in front of a home in Las Vegas, Nevada.
· In Johnston City, Illinois a nativity scene was stolen and $1,000 worth of damage was done in a residential neighborhood.
· A figure of St. Joseph was stolen from a home in Rocklin, California.
· Half of a nativity scene, including the baby Jesus and manger, was stolen from a Baptist church in Danville, Virginia.
· In Woodland, California a priest discovered someone broke off a head of a shepherd in a nativity scene inside Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
· Figures of St. Joseph and the baby Jesus were stolen from a $500 nativity set in front of a home in Visalia, California.
· Two women stole the Wise Men from a nativity scene outside of Town Hall in Stony Point, New York.
· A thief made off with a nativity set from a home in Athens, Alabama.
· In Sandusky, Ohio figures of the baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary were stolen from a church’s nativity scene valued at $35,000.
· A life size nativity scene was stolen from the front yard of a home in Fort Myers, Florida.
· A nativity set was stolen from a Chick-Fil-A restaurant in East Point, Georgia.
· A figure of the baby Jesus was stolen from a home in Beaverton, Oregon. The following day the homeowner discovered that the rest of the figures were missing and only the wooden stable was left.
· A drive-through nativity scene at a Christian church was vandalized in New Bern, North Carolina. The vandals painted satanic symbols and vulgarities on some figures and tore the other ones down.
· A sheep and camel were stolen from a nativity scene worth over $1,000 in Clinton Township, New Jersey. The vandals also damaged or stole Christmas decorations from at least six homes.
· Eleven figures of the baby Jesus were stolen from front yards in Floresville, Texas.
· In Daytona Beach, Florida a nativity scene was broken and strewn about a yard and street in front of a home.
· A few nativity sets were stolen from a neighborhood in Port Chester, New Jersey.
· At the mayor’s home in Suffern, New York, statues of St. Joseph and the baby Jesus were stolen.
· Vandals destroyed over $1,000 worth of Christmas decorations, including a nativity scene at the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania.
· Figures of the baby Jesus were stolen from homes or churches in Orange, California; Monroe County, Indiana; Chesterton, Indiana; Fairfield, Illinois; Ada, Oklahoma; Palmer, Massachusetts; Gastonia, North Carolina; Chesapeake, Virginia; Surprise, Arizona; Hopkinton, Massachusetts; Duboistown, Pennsylvania; Vineland, New Jersey; Folkston, Georgia.
It is hard to say whether these acts of vandalism were motivated by pecuniary benefit, mischief or hatred. But in all cases, a crime was committed, and the damage done to religious sensibilities outweighed the loss of property.