Vandals are targeting nativity scenes across the country, most recently with thrashed figurines in Pennsylvania and reports of baby Jesus abductions in Tennessee and New Hampshire.
Rolland Price Jr., secretary for The Church of the Holy Apostles in Saint Clair, Pennsylvania, told the Republican Herald it appeared someone attempted to get into the church last Thursday night and decided to kick over a nativity scene in the front yard when they found the door locked.
Baker spent three days installing the nativity scene and Christmas light display just days before someone smashed the ceramic Joseph to smithereens, snapped off angel wings and stomped a hole in a defenseless lamb figurine.
“I think when they tried to gain access to the church, they became frustrated and then took it out on the figurines,” Price said. “If they fell, they wouldn’t break like that. They were kicked.”
Price and senior church warden Bonnie Baker spent Wednesday salvaging what they could from the display, though they won’t add the baby Jesus until Christmas Eve.
“We never had anything like this happen before. It’s sad,” Baker said.
The Republican Herald reports the destruction in Saint Clair follows the theft of baby Jesus from a nativity scene in Schuylkill County two weeks ago.
Thieves also made off with baby Jesus from Knoxville, Tennessee resident Vickie Staab’s nativity scene this week, the second abduction in as many years.
“What would possess someone to take the main character out of my scene?” she questioned. “They did it last year, and they did it again this year.”
Staab told WVLT vandals swiped Jesus on Friday, but left all of her other decorations alone.
“They obviously need Jesus more than I do right now,” she said. “What’s humor to some, is hurtful to others.”
“He’s the meaning of it,” Staab said. “I mean, without Christ, there would be no Christmas.”
Baby Jesus was also abducted in Texas and New Hampshire, according to the news site.
In early December, workers with the Salem, New Hampshire public works department noticed the infant son of God missing from the nearby nativity scene when they were setting up for a Pearl Harbor tribute, CBS Boston reports.
“We got a report from the police department that baby Jesus had gone missing,” department spokesman Dave Wholley said.
“You kind of hope for the best. Hope that kids were playing around,” he said. “When we couldn’t locate him anywhere you kind of start to think it was something a little more devious.”
It was also the second time the baby Jesus had gone missing. Last year, officials recovered Jesus discarded along the roadside.
“It’s kind of despicable, everybody believes in something. Whether it’s God, Santa, something higher power but to be mean, it’s just disrespectful,” a local woman told the news site.
Wholley is optimistic those who took Jesus will return him to the manger, but said officials plan to fasten the figures securely next year to prevent another abduction.
“I hope that we find him or someone will do a good deed and some good come out of it and restore him back to where he belongs,” he said.