The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said last week it received a report that copies of the Holy Bible had been set on fire at a church property.
The incident was reported on 7 May at the East End Seventh-day Adventist Church premises, according to police.
RCIPS Chief Inspector Patrick Beersingh did not state whether officers were further investigating a case or if that probe might lead to any arrests.
“It would appear the person or persons have a gripe with God or the church,” said church Pastor Ivor Harry. “I along with the congregation cannot think of why anyone would want to do this act.”
According to Pastor Harry, the first burned Bible was found in the parking lot by a church member around December. Since that time, three more have been found burned, including a Bible that had been doused in kerosene and was placed at the church door.
Pastor Harry said he thought nothing of it when the first Bible was found, passing it off as someone playing a prank or just part of garbage being burned in the community. He said he disposed of it without notifying anyone.
About a month later, another Bible was found in the parking lot and in a few weeks when a third burned Bible was found, the church decided to get together to discuss the matter, he said.
Pastor Harry said during that meeting it was decided to get the police involved. Church members said they believed that whoever was burning the Bibles was trying to send a message to the church, or was having an issue with God or the Bible, he said.
“The church came together to pray about the incidents and for the person or persons carrying out the act, that God would meet them were they were and answer all their questions,” Pastor Harry said.
Church members contacted the RCIPS and police responded and took the information, promising to look into the matter.
Under the Cayman Islands Penal Code, it is an offence to make an “insult to religion of any class”. The code in section 122 reads: “A person who destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship or any object which is held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as an insult to their religion is guilty of an offence.”
When a church member found the fourth burnt Bible soaked in kerosene at the door of the church, Pastor Harry said he figured this was a deliberate act being carried out and he notified the police himself.
“It is strange we never thought anything of it at the time, but once we saw the repetition of it we thought it was a deliberate act,” he said.
Pastor Harry said he is not aware of the church having any falling out or grievances with anyone in the community. He said the church is there to engage people in the community and its “ears are open” to issues anyone may have with the church or God.
“We are prepared to make contact with the person to meet and discuss the issues,” he said. “If the person is doing this act as a prank we are asking that person to treat the word of God with a little more respect.”
According to Pastor Harry, the police consider the incident serious and have assured the church they will be looking into the matter.