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Who ransacks a church?

Published November 16. 2013 09:28AM

Sometimes we see things we wish we could un-see.

Several days ago, somebody broke into a Tamaqua church and ransacked it.

A church volunteer showed me the damage and it was substantial. Copper pipes ripped from walls and ceilings. Cabinets and closets torn open. Food pantry freezers emptied of meats and perishables. Walls, doors and appliances muddied by dirty, soulless hands.

The first thought that occurred to me is that people fall into one of two categories: those who build things up, and those who tear things down.

In this case, the Christian church obviously was invaded by someone who destroys, someone who doesn't know right from wrong and doesn't care.

The church isn't wealthy, yet members are known for helping others. They operate a small food pantry. They were looking forward to ensuring that several needy families have a happy Thanksgiving.

That's one of many fine things church people are known to do. Church folks tend to be good people. Of course, many nonchurch folks are good people, too.

The most caring, insightful and loving person I ever knew gave me this advice: "There is good and bad in all kinds of people." Mom was right.

But exactly what kind of person vandalizes a church? I thought about that question.

The best way to figure it out, I concluded, is to rule out the kinds of people who don't vandalize a church.

The ransacking of the local house of worship - the country's oldest Primitive Methodist Church - certainly wasn't done by a Christian. Nor a Hindu. Nor a Wiccan. And it likely wasn't done by another church goer. Those types of people have respect.

It wasn't done by a person of faith.

Interestingly, it likely wasn't done by an atheist either, nor an agnostic. Atheists and agnostics tend to be thoughtful, kind-hearted and nonaggressive. They're actually a lot like church people, but with a different set of beliefs.

So it wasn't done by a secular humanist or a person of spirituality.

Instead, it was done by a hedonistic animal who just doesn't care. To break in, steal from, and vandalize a church would take a cold person lacking respect, someone unable to acknowledge the goodness in humanity.

It would be a person without a sense of duty or purpose or direction. Very likely a drug addict looking for means to buy the next heroin fix. But addiction is no excuse to tread on the goodness of others and make a mockery of things held sacred.

The world has plenty of bad people. And of those, there are some so intrinsically evil that it's hard to imagine they walk freely among us. But they do.

Even among villains, it takes an especially callous, demented mind to enter a church, grab a painting of Jesus and jam it into a window so that nobody can look in and see horrible crimes being committed.

Who ransacks a church?

A coward. A drug addict. A dreg of society. Someone who needs confinement, counseling and a dose of spirituality.

Our picture of the world, for each of us, is a changing canvas shaped and colored by our individual journeys.

It's a detailed panorama that includes what we've seen and what we wish we could un-see.

I don't believe in mythical concepts of hell and the devil and much, much more.

But I do believe in demons because I know they exist. They live among us.

I've seen what they can do and it makes me sick.

A person who'd ransack a church would also do much more and far worse. Demons have no morals. And that's a frightening thought.

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