Thieves prey on churches

The vexing issue of crime lingers like an unwanted guest in our society and while we abhor all of its forms, sacrilege never fails to shock even the unholy.

Last Sunday morning while parishioners at the St Barnabas Anglican Church gathered for worship, lawmen joined the congregation, but not for pray and fellowship. They were on the job busy dusting for fingerprints and scouring for other evidence to track down thieves who ventured on the sacred ground, ransacked the office, the vestry and the altar before making off with valuable items, including a computer.

Even more disturbing was the revelation from rector Reverend Mark Harewood that this was the fourth incident in his 11 years at the church.

“People coming to church to worship and seeing that first thing in the morning is not a good feeling. They view their church as the house of God where they spend quality time,” he said.

In a society deemed religious, one would assume that the church is off limits for the deviant among us. Not only should Proverbs 10:2, which declares that “ill-gotten gains do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death”, serve as a warning but the Biblical accounts of characters being struck dead while venturing to engage in wrongdoing in the presence of God should strike some fear in the hearts of the lawless.

But that’s clearly not the case. Police public relations officer, Inspector David Welch told Barbados TODAY that from January to August this year there were 11 reported cases of sacrilege, compared to 12 for the same period last year. There were 16 cases in all for 2013.

Admittedly, while the figures showed no real increase, the churches would do well to heed Inspector Welch’s warning of the need for stepped up security.

It would also be a good idea, as the senior police officer suggests, for the church to foster closer relationships with neighbouring households, so that they can assist in keeping watch over
the buildings.

As senseless and immoral as it all sounds, we believe that faith without action is dead.

And while we would hope to God that the situation is not headed in the direction that Monsignor Vincent Blackett suggests, we are forced to agree with him that it has the potential to get worse before it gets better, given the recent increase in unemployment and the growing number of substance abuse cases.

As Reverend John Rogers of the St. Luke’s Anglican Church rightly suggested, there is a climate of desperation in Barbados that is causing “people to do desperate things” and the church family must not be foolhardy to believe that you can leave the church open and all would be well.

It is better to safe than sorry.

But apart from the glaring security message, the recent break-ins should serve as a wake up call for the church that it continues to lose its societal grip.

Maybe the church would regain some its lost ground, and be able to restore the sanctity of its place of worship, if the needy and vulnerable felt more connected to it, in the midst of trying economic times.

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