An Indiana pastor has forgiven and invited to church the vandal responsible for beheading a statue of Jesus Christ for the second time in two weeks.
Pastor Brad Flaskamp of Cottage Avenue Pentecostal Fellowship Church in Indianapolis told FOX 59 that the head was re-attached after the first incident, but then removed and stolen on Saturday night or Sunday morning. He added that whoever committed the bizarre crime would have needed a sledgehammer to inflict the damage.
"It makes me sad that somebody would do something like that," the pastor said. "I was hoping it was just a random act to destroy it in the first place."
"Someone needs Jesus, that's for sure. And not just his head, that's the truth," he added.
Pastor Flaskamp said he's willing to forgive those involved if they return the head and come clean about the crime - and even hopes they come to his church.
"I'd say we love you, we'd love to have the statue head back and we'd love to have you in our church," the pastor said. "We'd welcome them, we'd forgive them. That's what it's all about."
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police have been investigating the incident, but said it's difficult to find who's responsible because a security camera pointed in the direction of the church was not working at the times the crimes happened.
In December, a similar incident occurred in the Münster region in west Germany, where dozens of Christian statues were destroyed, including one of Jesus Christ which had its head lopped off.
Due to the dense Muslim population in the region, police were investigating six men with alleged links to Islamic extremists, but gave up after three left for Syria, one died and the other two dropped off the radar, according to Heavy.
Günther Fehmer, who oversees the town's finances, estimated the cost of the damage to be a whopping six-figure sum, and explained that the communities themselves would have to pay for statues' repair and replacement. Unfortunately, there is little than can be done to counter the wave of vandalism, he said.
"You can't take these sculptures inside in the evening and you can't watch them all night," he said. "And a video camera in public spaces is also problematic."
This is not the first time religious statues and artifacts have been targeted in the area: According to the German tabloid Bild, 40 sculptures have been defaced over the past two years.