Virgin Mary statue vandalized at Dickinson, Texas church

Video screenshot, Fox 26 News Houston

A priest in Texas is pointing out the increase in church vandalism in his state and the nation, after a statue of Mary was defaced at his church about a week ago.

Father Adman Purdy of Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Dickinson -a suburb between Houston and Galveston–told Fox 26 Houston about a troubling number of churches being vandalized.

Cases are being reported all over the nation, he said. Church property, including statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, are being defaced, and Fr. Purdy does not think these acts of vandalism are completely random.

“Even a couple days ago, in the state of Texas there were two Catholic churches where there was vandalism in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and there was also one in El Paso,” said Fr. Purdy. “The number on the year is already over 100 incidents of vandalism specifically toward Catholic churches.”

His parishioners were at a loss for words when, on Tuesday of last week, they found a statue of Mary on the front steps of their church with its head, hands, and feet cut off. Fr. Purdy said the statue must have been dragged 40 feet.

“I came and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what happened here? I was surprised and was shocked,” said Maria Matties, a churchgoer at Queen of Angels.

The Houston division of the FBI reached out to the Dickinson Police Department, according to Fox 26. Dickinson Police said at this time they are not calling this a hate crime, but are also not ruling it out as they continue their investigation.

In order to be deemed a hate crime under federal statute, it has to be proven that the property vandalized was intentionally damaged, destroyed or defaced because of its religious character.

“It’s really an insult to Catholicism. Catholics are very devoted to the Virgin Mary. We are quite confident that’s what the person intended to do,” said Fr. Purdy, referring to the hate crime allegation.

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About David Kilby 3 Articles
David Kilby is the Managing Editor of Catholic World Report.


  1. I don’t care much for the modern trend of prosecuting “hate” crimes. Death and destruction are already crimes. Hate is a tragedy but it cannot be legislated from existence, nor prosecuted unless we are willing to accept that civil authorities have a right to force us to reveal what is in our hearts. In today’s zeitgeist, people and governments don’t even seem particularly concerned with the death and destruction, just the hate. Not a promising trend. That being said, if the police department has ever accepted the notion of a “hate crime,” why on earth would this not obviously qualify?

  2. Folks in the Dickinson Police Dept must be a little dim if they are not yet sure this is a hate crime. A RELIGIOUS STATUE was defaced,on church property, in what is clearly intentional vandalism and in no way an accident. What else could this be but a HATE CRIME??? If a rock was thrown through the window of a Mosque, would it be a hate crime??? If Nazi symbols were painted on a Jewish temple would it be a hate crime??? My guess is YES. So why is this different? Destroying a religious statue is not a sign of LOVE, is it? The people of this parish need to be calling their police to demand an investigation as a hate crime and if they refuse to do so, take it to the State Atty General.We cannot remain silent as this just emboldens the attackers. Attacks on Catholic churches are on the increase and it is time for the church to take some action. Sadly, locking churches at dusk might be one such move and placing security cameras on the property outside AND inside is also called for.Its worth the financial investment to put an end to these sorts of crimes. The country is going down the tubes fast. Too many people have no moral compass and no sense of right or wrong. Very sad.

  3. I care about what is done, not the reason for it. I doubt if anybody vandalizes a statue or a church out of benevolence and affection. The penalty for doing this out of stupidity or any other reason should not be any less severe than it would be because it qualifies as a “hate crime,” and the penalty for a “hate crime” should be the same as the same crime committed for any other reason. Otherwise you’re trying to read people’s minds, and that hardly makes for justice.

    • Kmbold,
      Yes, I think that’s mostly the case here. Thankfully.
      Too many people vent because they’re anonymous. In real life they’re probably much more mannerly & charitable.

  4. I read this and at first my concern was the church, it’s terrible this is happening. Then my concern went from that to, “Why are reporters not double checking their facts and why are editors not editing?” It’s “Dickinson” not “Dickenson”, which this reporter clearly knows as he spelled it correctly the first time, just didn’t bother to re-read his work apparently. This is partially what’s wrong with the news now, people don’t even bother to spell check, let alone fact check.

    • The FBI defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

      The FBI explains that ‘hatred’ itself is not a crime. When hatred motivates the commission of a crime against persons or property because of prejudice and bias based on the categories, it is defined as a crime of hate. Proving motivation is key in prosecuting a hate crime.

      Leslie, below, also has a good point. A crime is a crime is a crime. Individuals and institutions have rights and liberties to own and use property to express religion. A parish is surely free to erect crosses, statues, banners, other signs, symbols or structures on its property (so long as local zoning codes, etc. are followed). The parish has the right to seek redress for wrongs committed against its freedom and rights.

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