Members of a Texas church held a ceremony one week after a robbery to destroy a “demonic” statue that was discovered on church grounds.
On Sunday morning, members of the Community of Faith Church in Acres Homes of north Houston discovered a statue in the gazebo of the church that appeared to be of “Santa Muerte” — a bizarre object that drug cartel members and other criminals worship, though this worship is not sanctioned by the Catholic Church.
Bishop James Dixon expressed his shock about the incident in a statement to a local news outlet.
“It’s disheartening. It is sad to think that people would do something like that,” the bishop said.
Church members joined together later that day to set the statue on fire and pray for the sanctity of their church.
“This is sacrilegious. This is holy ground. This is our church,” one church member told KHOU-TV.
A week prior to the discovery of the “demonic” statue in the gazebo, the church was robbed of money and important documents that were being held in a safe. Surveillance footage of the incident showed the thieves carrying the safe out of the building on a rolling cart.
“Here we are a week later and we’re having to defend ourselves and pray again against the works of the enemy,” Dixon told the local news outlet.
Following the robbery, the bishop told KHOU-TV that his church was praying for the individuals responsible for the incident to repent and turn themselves in to the police.
“We destroyed the works of the devil,” Dixon explained. “We’ve never had this before. So it hurts, you know, to know that this church does so much good for so many people.”
According to the Catholic News Agency, a Catholic Church official previously condemned the worship of Santa Muerte in 2013 — warning that it was akin to the “celebration of devastation and of hell.”
Andrew Chesnut, a “Santa Muerte” expert, told the outlet that the “folk saint” was relatively unknown until 2001 — but now has millions of “devotees.”
“She was unknown to 99% of Mexicans before 2001, when she went public. Now I estimate there’s some 10-12 million devotees, mostly in Mexico, but also significant numbers in the United States and Central America,” he said.
Santa Muerte has become so ubiquitous in Mexico that her statues are even sold at curios shops, like this one at a Mexico City bus station, alongside the ever present Chucky dolls. #SantaMuerte #devotedtodeath pic.twitter.com/icOMAp3kFm
— Dr. Death & Divinity (@AndrewChesnut1) June 30, 2023