A 21-year-old Christian man in Arkansas was arrested earlier this month after he destroyed three Buddha statues at a temple.
Shawn Michael Israel was arrested on April 5th when police responded a theft in progress at Wat Lao Santitham in Fort Smith.
Police discovered Israel with a hammer and a Bible in his hands. He was in the process of destroying one of the statues with the hammer.
According to authorities, Israel said that he was commanded by scripture to destroy the statue, which he referred to as a “false idol.” He made multiple references to the Ten Commandments and said he was doing what God told him to do through scripture.
Police were told that Israel caused about $10,000 in damage. Yesterday, Israel was arraigned and charged with one count of first degree criminal mischief greater than $5,000 but less than $25,000. His court date is May 11th.
A GoFundMe fundraiser was created shortly afterwards to help raise money for the temple. As of today they have raised about $8,600 to cover repair costs, as well as to improve security.
Israel is clearly a religious fanatic, but at least he only took action against statues and did not injure anyone. If he had decided on different scriptures to enforce, like some of the more insidious parts of Deuteronomy or Leviticus, then he could be facing murder charges for stoning someone.
Hopefully he will be locked up for a long time and can get whatever help he may need to start thinking more clearly.