Christmas Vandalism on the Rise

by Alexander Slavsky  •  •  December 21, 2017   

Coincides with loss of religious observance of Christmas

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DETROIT ( - An increase in acts of vandalism seems to be on the rise, consistent with a decrease in the religious celebration of Christmas.

In December, Pew Research Center released a survey revealing that most U.S. adults believe that the religious meaning behind Christmas is less stressed than in previous years. Further, fewer believe that religious displays like Nativity scenes should be allowed on government property.

The survey offers a glimpse at the increasing secularization of Christmas:

For instance, while two-thirds of Americans continue to say that Christian displays like nativity scenes should be permitted on government property during the holidays, the share who say these displays should be allowed on their own (unaccompanied by symbols of other faiths) has declined by 7 percentage points since 2014. Meanwhile, the share of Americans who believe no religious displays should be permitted on government property has grown from 20% to 26% over the past three years.

In Wisconsin, the Baby Jesus figure was taken from the nativity at St. Patrick's Church in Menasha on November 27. The robbery also damaged the rest of the Nativity. The Jesus figure is more than 100 years old, part of a handcrafted antique German Nativity set that has been part of annual Christmas celebrations since the 1960s.
In another instance of vandalism, people smashed a statue of St. Joseph at a Brooklyn, New York church. On December 7, a tipster alerted St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church in Cobble Hills to the vandalism, mentioning that someone was "rubbing Joseph's head" and pushing the statue. When parish staff arrived at the scene, the statue had been broken into three pieces. Monsignor Joseph Nugent, pastor of the church, told the local paper, Daily News, that the "devil is working overtime, but he's not going to win."
Other incidents include damage to a number of large statues from a crèche at St. John's Cathedral Church in Fresno, California in September.
Vandalism has occurred abroad as well. Vandals destroyed a Nativity set, stealing and smashing its figurines, in Stroke-on-Trent, England. Thieves snapped St. Joseph in two pieces and tore Jesus from the manager in Market Square in Guernsey, an island in the English channel off the coast of Normandy.
In Spain, vandals converted a Nativity scene into a porn scene, displaying Mary performing a sex act on Joseph, along with the stable animals on December 17. The desecration has upset many people in the largely Catholic country. Local members of the conservative People's Party (PP) are seeking justice.
A PP spokesman commented that the crime is more than vandalism, "it is a clearly intentional offensive attack against religious freedom. It constitutes a clear lack of respect for the religious beliefs and traditions of much of the population of the municipality."
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