Or, maybe it was, which is why whoever stole the Baby Jesus figurine returned it. Perhaps it was just a prank. Or it may have been just another theft related to illegal drug use.
The Kingsport Jaycees are in charge of the annual Nativity at Church Circle, and when the figurine was removed, promised not to press charges if it was returned. Otherwise, what might have been a stunt would have become a felony because of the figurine’s value. And being convicted of a felony has lifelong consequences resulting in the loss of basic civil rights such as the right to vote, the right to sit on a jury, and the right to own, possess or use a firearm.
It’s the second time in as many years that someone has so desecrated this annual celebration of the birth of Christ. After the figurine was stolen last year, carvers with the Kingsport Carousel project hand-crafted a replacement. Last year’s figurine was never found.
When this year’s Nativity was so desecrated, Jaycees President Bennett Little asked that the figurine be returned “in the spirit of holiday good will,” and that if done so by noon on Christmas Eve, no questions would be asked. Little said that if the person responsible failed to do so, the Jaycees would pursue prosecution and penalties.
Facebook users were quick to lay blame. One poster wrote, “One of two types of people stole the baby Jesus both last year and this year, drug addicts or young people. Those people don’t care what they steal, from whom, how difficult to steal the item is, where it is, or what sentimental attachment people have to it. As long as they can sell it to buy the stuff they’re hooked on, it’s gone. Drug addicts would steal the Holy Bible itself right out of the Lord’s Hands, if they thought they could sell it to get money to buy drugs.” Or, it might have been “teenagers or 20-something males whose mamas did not raise them to appreciate anything that belongs to somebody else. Drugs may also play a role here, too.”
Wrote another poster, “Any police officer will tell you that 75 percent to 80 percent of all armed robberies, burglaries, larcenies, assaults, thefts, money-related crimes and violent person-on-person crimes these days, are drug-related. And don’t forget the opioid epidemic has upper East Tennessee in a death grip right now.”
Drug addiction is the main driver of petty crime, and while that’s being addressed on a number of fronts, it’s wise at this time of year especially to take measures to safeguard anything of value.
Thank you to whoever returned the Baby Jesus figurine. If that was the same person who removed it, we hope it was because the spirit of the Christ child entered your heart.