A man who broke into the Vien Giac Buddhist Monastery in Florida and destroyed $48,000 worth of statues and ornaments says he did so because God told him to destroy all the “false idols.”
There’s no mention of Ahmad Hinson’s religion in media reports, but police arrested him and charged him with burglary, petty theft, grand theft of a motor vehicle, and criminal mischief to a church over $10,000. He is scheduled to appear in court today.
When deputies arrived, they saw Hinson standing by a van backed up to the monastery garden and immediately took him into custody. They say that Hinson stated to a deputy on scene that, “God told him there are too many false idols and he was there to handle it.”
As deputies walked through the monastery, they found numerous items that were damages to include 25 marble statues and marble ornaments that were damaged in the garden area.
The timing of this incident is interesting because there was a similar act of vandalism in the same city just a few days earlier. The events haven’t been officially connected, but police are investigating both.
This case of vandalism comes a few days after a longtime Tallahassee business had its statues destroyed too. The Patio Shop lost around 90 percent of its inventory. Interestingly, all of the store’s religious statues were destroyed.
It would be quite a coincidence if these two cases were unrelated.
The Bible warns against false idols, including the Golden Calf in Exodus, but it never states that believers should go out and destroy others’ property if they disagree with their beliefs. So it could be that he’s misinterpreting parts of a holy book… or that God gave him personal instructions to damage the statues.
Regardless, this wouldn’t be Hinson’s first crime. He was already on probation for his role in a fatal shooting in Tallahassee in 2012.
Hinson was accused of acquiring the gun and handing it to the man who fired the fatal shot. He was charged as an accessory and later entered a plea. He was sentenced to jail time and two years’ probation.
Hinson is to remain on probation until December of 2019.
Whatever the motive, I hope he’s held accountable. And if, by chance, there’s some other atheist running around Florida destroying statues, I’ll be the first one to disavow him.