Pastors in New Haven, Conn. spoke out Tuesday after a vandal burned a Bible and damaged the electrical wires that powered the lights on a Christmas tree downtown.
“There is more than a war on Christmas going on in America. This is a war on Christ,” Todd Foster, pastor of Church on the Rock in New Haven, told The Christian Post via email on Tuesday. “The burning of a Bible underneath a Christmas tree was more than just a 'bah humbug' of a modern day Scrooge. It was a direct assault upon the holiday's religious foundation as the sentimental (rather than historical) commemoration of the birth of Christ.”
The 65-foot Norway spruce, which stands in an area called the Green in downtown New Haven, wasn't directly damaged in the early Monday morning fire, according to the city's legislative assistant Elizabeth Benton. The wires that funnel electricity to the tree's 20,000 LED lights, however, were melted and destroyed when the burning Bible was placed on them.
City workers had planned to repair or replace the damaged wires by Tuesday afternoon, but some pastors remain startled by what appears to be a religiously motivated vandalism.
“My initial thought when hearing about the fire was how absolutely pitiable the action was: My heart breaks for anyone who is so full of apparent hatred that they would commit such an utterly senseless act,” said Foster.
Upon more reflection, though, he began to wonder if Christians had in some way brought such strong opposition against themselves.
He said that “those who recognize the warfare at hand must realize that a carnal church fighting a carnal warfare cannot win.”
“Those of us who define ourselves in terms of our relationship with Jesus Christ need to fully understand that the days of unquestioned acceptance of Christianity are over ... If our demonstration of the love of Christ doesn't speak louder than anything we may proclaim, we can only expect the level of contempt toward us to rise and our significance in America to fade.”
The local pastor emphasized the need for “a new and fresh incarnation through each one of us” as the “most effective way we can celebrate and sustain the significance of that precious babe in the manger.”
According to the FBI, over 6,500 hate crime incidents occurred in the United States in 2010, 20 percent of which were motivated by religion. Of all the hate crimes reported, over 81 percent of them were crimes against property.
Bishop Rosetta Wheeler, leader of the nearby Mountainhead Church of God, said the vandalism that occurred in New Haven has a deeper spiritual significance than simple property loss.
"I've never heard of such a weakness in my life. The Bible speaks ... these days would come, that men would be haters,” said Wheeler, in an interview with CP.
"The devil is loose and he's trying to destroy God's work. Everything that God is in, he's trying to destroy," she said. "The power of God is greater than the power of the devil.”
Fire Chief Michael Grant said those investigating the incident would take a look at downtown cameras to see if any of them recorded the vandalism, the New Haven Register reports. It cost approximately $1,200 to repair and replace what was damaged in the fire.