American Taliban: Following instructions from the Bible, Shawn Michael Israel, a “good Christian man,” was arrested after destroying three Buddhist statues at a Buddhist temple in Arkansas.
In a deplorable and senseless act of religious inspired vandalism, Shawn Michael Israel destroyed the Buddhist statues because they were “false idols,” and, according to Israel, the Bible teaches that false idols must be destroyed.
NBC News reports:
A Buddhist temple in Fort Smith was vandalized on Sunday by a hammer-wielding man who took the heads off three statues housed on the temple grounds.
Shawn Michael Israel, 21, was arrested after Fort Smith police say they arrived on scene at Wat Lao Santitham to find him “beating on a gold Buddha statue, with a hammer, causing severe damage to it.”
Responding officers report Israel said he had to destroy the “false idols.” Police also noted the 21-year-old was in possession of a Bible at the time of his arrest.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports:
Israel told authorities that he was commanded by scripture to destroy the statue, which he referred to as a “false idol.” He said multiple times that he was only following the Ten Commandments and did what God told him to do through scripture. Israel had a Bible with him when officers arrested him.
When asked about the hammer he had, Israel said he used it to destroy the statue, according to police. He went on to say that he had tried to destroy the statue the previous day, but the tool he was using broke as he demolished the statue’s head. He returned on Sunday to smash the body of the statue with the hammer, police said.
A GoFundMe page set up to replace the three statues notes:
The Fort Smith Police labeled the crime as an act of “religious intolerance,” but Arkansas has no hate crime laws. However, the act of vandalism has prompted a call for hate crime legislation in the state.
This incident has left many of the elderly members of the temple feeling hurt, speechless, and uneasy as the peaceful temple that they’ve visited every week in what had been a quiet area for decades has lost it tranquility
According to the Sebastian County sheriff’s office, Israel is being held at the Sebastian County jail on suspicion of first degree criminal mischief, a class C felony.
A court date for Israel has been set for May 11.
In 2001 the world’s two largest standing Buddhas – one of them 165ft high – were blown up by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Bottom line: Shawn Michael Israel, a Christian extremist in Arkansas, destroyed three Buddhist statues because he believed they were “false idols,” and, according to Israel, the Bible teaches that false idols must be destroyed.