RETIRED solicitor Alan Pickard, 82, saw red when parishioners from St John the Baptist Church in Brearton, north Yorkshire, put a 6ft free-standing cross at the edge the village green.
Pickard hauled the thing down in the dead of night and dumped it in the pond.
The former chairman of employment tribunals who has lived in the picturesque village for 17 years with his wife Ina, said he took the action because he thought the grounds church was the “proper place for the artifice” and not the communal green.
According to this report, the pensioner then penned an email to residents explaining his actions and claiming he had initially planned to dress the cross up as Worzel Gummidge.
Angry worshippers fished the cross from the pond and planted it in the churchyard.
Parishioners are now branding Pickard a “vandal”. One angry resident, Jeremy Rhodes, 55, said:
If a child did this is would be classed as vandalism. To throw the cross in the pond is an act of desecration and it is not the way to go about objecting. If the cross is so offensive you can just avert your gaze. It really is absurd because we are not a very religious community and it is a very poorly attended church.
Rhodes said the cross was pitched into the pond last Wednesday night and dragged out the following morning.
If he didn’t like it he should have opened a debate with the vicar or the diocese to discuss the matter, not desecrate a religious symbol. To fling it into the pond is an unacceptable, wanton act of violence. It’s tantamount to religious hatred in my book. It must have been quite heavy though, so it’s not bad going for an 82-year-old.
The Malt Shovel pub’s landlord, D’Arcy Bleiker, 40, who sings in the Ripon Cathedral Choir, said:
The cross is a traditional part of the village and has been on the green for years for Lent. But for some reason Alan decided to throw it in the pond. There are a lot devout Christians and it is upsetting for some. Alan is a customer here and he’s a good man, but has overstepped the mark and offended people.
But Pickard remains defiant.
I’m quite happy to stand up for my actions and it is no secret that I am the culprit. We’re content now the cross is back on church land and not standing on the village green, which is owned by all of us.
And he warned::
If I see it back on the green I shall take similar action.
A spokesman for the Leeds and Ripon Diocese declined to comment. Police said they were not aware of any dispute.
Hat tip: Agent Cormac