A couple of days before Christmas, a 34-year-old Smithfield man unworthily entered the Logan Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I say “unworthily” because instead of a valid temple recommend, officials say, he used an ax to gain access. Once inside, he caused an estimated $5,000 in damage.
That’s substantial destruction. The church may have to set up a special fund asking members for donations to cover the repairs or put together a service project. (Gotta keep that $100 billion reserve safely stowed away and intact for the Second Coming.)
Maybe the cops didn’t have recommends and were unfamiliar with the temple, because the suspect managed to elude detection the first time they responded. But they were called back a second time and found the suspect hiding in a room.
When arrested, the suspect told officers he was “upset with the church” because he wasn’t allowed to see his kids and no Latter-day Saint women would go out with him.
I don’t suppose “chopped my way into the Lord’s house with an ax” would look good on an LDS singles profile.
There was a time in my life when no Latter-day Saint girl or woman in her right mind would date me either. But I’ve always been able to see my kids, even sometimes when I didn’t really want to.
As annoyed or bored as I’ve ever been in church, nothing has driven me to the point I wanted to start smashing things in it.
I can’t say the same about my mission. That apartment was trashed in the course of two guys trying to damage each other’s face because — and I’m not saying who — one of them refused to obey the other even when the other raised his right arm to the square.
As a small boy, I wrote the filthiest word I knew at the time on a pew with a Magic Marker. It was the F-word. You know, “fArT”? The Old Man tried to use my head to clean it off after the meeting. It might have taken a couple of days but for the fact that the bishop intervened and said there was some spray cleaner in the custodian’s closet.
The closest I’ve come to actually damaging church property was banging my head on a pew whenever Brother Codger got up in testimony meeting — as he did every fast Sunday — and hold forth for a solid 15 minutes about how he’d had his calling and election made sure.
Did members of the bishopric ever stop him? Yeah, but I don’t know how. Maybe they upped his meds or installed a seat belt on his favorite pew — but not before the bishop gently asked if I would move to the back of the cultural hall and “meditate” on a folding chair instead.
As a cop, I handled a number of burglaries in chapels. The culprits usually were bored or drunken teenagers. A couple of times, the crooks were people who believed large sums of money were kept in clerks’ offices instead of offshore banks in the Cayman Islands.
Of all of the break-ins, the most original was a chapel with a large picture of Christ coming through the clouds mounted on the wall behind the podium. The suspects cut a small slit between the Lord’s lips and inserted a cigarette.
Since it was 3 a.m. Sunday morning when that burglary was discovered, I’m glad I spotted the Word of Winston before church began. I could just imagine the heart attacks of people who noticed the desecration in the middle of a meeting.
Look, I get that church can be dull and sometimes outright offensive. But the answer isn’t an ax, a Magic Marker, or a flamethrower. If you can’t stop going, bring a good book. Doesn’t have to be scripture.
This Sunday, I’ll be flipping through Pat Bagley’s latest cartoon book in church. I figure there’s little chance of God damaging one of his own buildings by hitting me with lightning.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.