After picking up the kids from 'Sunday school,' we all settled in for the 11 am mass at Annunciation of the Lord Catholic Church. For those not in the know, North Alabama is akin to mission country for Catholicism. Our town is a blue collar town of 60,000 people.
Just before communion two people, a young woman and young man, came down and sat on the front row leaving their three other friends in the back. As our priest sat down after communion, the female rose to her feet and yelled, "The day of repentence is at hand idol worshippers!" And continued to spew out other stuff as her male counterpart charged up the altar steps and went behind the alter. He immediatley began lifting and pushing the altar. It collapsed, falling down the steps. Several members close by forcibly escorted the two zealots out the door to wait for the police as we finished the service.
Another banner day for the anti-Catholics.
Wow , i have never heard of such a thing.
thats just crazy and sad.
That is just crazy and sad.
I wonder if their defense is going to be that they were following Jesus' example in the Temple..
So here's the deal: we believe, based on scripture and history of what other Christians believed going back to the very beginning, that the Mass is THE memorial meal by which we can partake of Jesus Himself- not his representative, not a symbol, THE MAN AND GOD HIMSELF.
So that's why we tend to build our churches well, why the gold chalice and special vestments, why we kneel ("at the name of Jesus every knee shall bend"). Because the Mass is special, that's why we cover the lectionary, the Bible in gold, why the reverence when handling it. And do we know the Bible? Well, considering that Catholics read through the whole bible every 3 years during Mass; that every Mass has at least 3 hymns (all of which are quotes or paraphrases of Psalms), at least 2 readings on weekdays, 3 on Sundays that include the Old Testament, a Psalm, the New Testament not counting the Gospel, and the Gospel...I'd say...IF A Catholic actually pays attention...YES.
So it's not like WE don't know the definition of the word "idol". It has something to do with THINKING some THING is God and worshipping 'it'. Giving "adoratio", i.e. worship to a thing when only God ought to be worshipped.
Now, here many Protestants might snicker and wonder why the flowers before a statue of Mary. Well, FYI flowers at a tomb stone don't mean a widow or soldier WORSHIPS the tomb stone. Saluting the flag isn't worship either. So some people need to look a in a dictionary written by someone other than Jack Chick. There is a colossal difference between worship and honoring something. Between praying TO God and praying FOR SOMEONE ELSE, or with someone else TO God.
Yes, yes, we all say 'say a prayer to [insert saint name here]' But then every American on earth ALSO says "when the sun rises" and "when the sun sets" EVEN THOUGH TECHNICALLY WE ALL ALSO BELIEVE IT'S THE PLANET THAT MOVES, NOT THE SUN.
So what's my point? My point is, reading whole theological ideas INTO turns of expression you don't understand isn't bright.
We believe that we have a real encounter with Jesus Christ at Mass. This we believe. And we read scripture and see it right there and we learn from history and what other Christians have said, did, and believed going back 2000 years.
Now understand that Anglicans, Lutherans, and some "evangelicals" even believe that their memorial suppers aren't "merely" symbolic. But for the life of me I don't recall EVER hearing of fundamentalists crashing in on THEIR church services.
Maybe we're wrong. Maybe our "interpetation of scripture" is messed up. Maybe.
But then, maybe those nut cases' interpretation of scripture is messed up (too).
I don't recall anything in the Gospel, Acts, or the Epistles wereby Jesus or the Apostles enjoined disciples to break into 'the gentiles' temples or homes to make asses of themselves. Something tells me Peter's letter kinda forbade that kind of "evangelization".
Now should someone want to harague someone in public, go for it. Should they want to harange me at my door, let em go for it. I'll even let 'em inside where we can pour over the scriptures in Latin, Greek, Spanish and English or any other language except German (my German is lousy) Or Korean. Syntax is pretty much like German.
The amazing thing is those nice JWs, Mormons and others never come back. I wonder if it was something I pointed to, in the Greek?
But I digress. Fine in public, fine in private, but not fine in Mass. That's not even poor taste. It's appalling.
But here's a question about subjectivity and moral guilt. Let's suppose those "Christians" who did this sincerely believed that THEIR act was not only Biblical, but also called for. And they'd been taught from their youth, and by their entire social milieu, including the rash of Hollywood movies that YEARLY make fun of, denigrate, or otherwise besmearch Catholicism to think that Catholics don't worship Jesus and hence are idolators.
In that case while objectively they're still asses, subjectively they're innocent.
But this works two ways. Suppose Catholics are wrong and these "fundies" are right. But are you guilty of idolatry - of believing in idols - if everything your mind, heart, and indeed religion tells you that that bread and wine are in fact Jesus Christ, who just so happens to be GOD?
Objectively, maybe. Subjectively? Not at all.
So you read the Bible, you trust your pastors, you trust the sincerity of great theologians you think are smarter than you... and to YOU it means "this is my body, this is my blood" how does that make you guilty of idolatry, hateful to God who you think you are worshipping?
It's not like these Church-crashers knocked over a statue of a saint or angel or anything. They knocked over the altar, in the great silence after communion when all are praying about the experience of receiving our Lord and resting in his presence.
Now what would Jesus do?
He overturned money changer's tables - he didn't crash into the local temple of Zeus. When John and James suggested that they call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans, he didn't say "yeah, go for it, teach them thar idolators what for." Neither did St Paul in Athens. Or is this one of those occasions when people who think the Bible alone is their guide (and NOTHING ELSE - not culture, not their pastor, not say, some Jack Chick material...) get creative and do something not called for in the Bible itself?
Because IF SO, and they belong to one of those relatively new sects that thinks a Christian can ONLY be guided by what they find explicitly called for in the Bible...well, then not only did they do something objectively stupid, they also subjectively broke their church's core dogma and thus are in heap o' trouble with God.
+1 Some things are hard to imagine!
Jeeze, great way to spread the Word, or to challenge disinformation.
What idiots, nothing less.
I was quite proud that no one beat the desecratorss to a pulp. I don't think the pastor ever moved from his chair. He stood after the criminals were removed from the worship area. Expressed reluctance, great sadness. He invited us to pray for those that feel compelled to act in such a way. He led us in several 'prewritten' prayers (what a stick in the eye that must have been) and then added some spontaneus words of prayer. We started the recessional hymn and they processed out around and over the rubble.
I recalled, and related to several folks, an event which I had been very suprised at recently. After the death of Pope John Paul II, some of you may recall that flags were flown at half staff in some places. This turned out to be the topic of discussion on the local talk radio station. As I drove home from the hospital, 5 whole miles, 15 minutes tops, the station received not one, but two calls in which the callers had to be cut off as they launched into Chick-like speeches. "I can't believe that the US is bowing down to these Papists. Catholics aren't even Christians, and...." My thoughts at the time were that I couldn't believe that someone out there was preaching that kind of hatred. (and I fully understand that from a flag protocal standpoint, the appropriateness of the act was arguable). But not in my little town. Not out here where we have maybe one Catholic parish per county!? Not in my town where the 900 families in the parish make up an incredibly small percentage of the population. Despite those callers, I figured they were isolated and irrelevant trains of thought. Apparently not as isolated as I might have wished.
Wow what sect did they belong to?
There is a sect of Christians and Jews that believe as do Muslims that any man made representation of God or his son is a sin. The Catholic faith is rich in representative Icons. I also am this way although I would never Dis the house of God or his people in such a manner. I know Catholics do not worship the Icons but for me it's spooky.
It all boils down to the Mosaic storm, the Golden Calf and the Commandment of No Gods Before Me.
Hope that kinda clears up their misguided actions for you. There is no excuse for actions like theirs.
This is just disgraceful.
I am as staunch of a evangelical protestant as there could be, but whenever I am in attendance at a catholic mass or baptisms. etc... I am respectful of the service and the faithful.
I would have told them my God is the God of the old testament and beat them with the pieces of the altar. Probably a flaw in my character though.
They should go to jail. Two wrongs don't make a right.
Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: ....
I do agree that statues of Mary, Jesus, and saints that are bowed to or prayed to is sacrilegious. I'm not anti-Catholic I just disagree with much of their doctrine and traditions.
You can disagree all you want. To act like these people did though is criminal and in extrememly poor taste and one can only hope they many bruises,lacerations, and criminal charges to remind them of that fact.
" any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, "
So please explain to me what Moses was doing making a Seraph serpent and mounting it on a pole such that if any one look at it, they would be healed? It was a 'graven image' of something on earth and it had miraculous (iconic) powers related to it.
And what pray tell was put into the Ark? The stone tablets and Moses' staff. Did Jews bow down towards the Ark? YES. Did they worship IT? NOOOOOOOO. Ditto for the Temple.
If graven images PER SE were forbidden by God, why did God directed the Temple to have images of oxen, palm trees, cherubim, etc. as decor? Obviously what was forbidden was worshipping things as though they had intrinsic power apart from God (which is why eventually the Seraph Serpent was destroyed) or were God.
Icons aren't idols. "Bowing down to" isn't the same thing as worshipping the statue as though IT were divine or something. Things are holy to the extent they are reserved for God or God uses them for his glory, not from intrinsic power or glory.
Americans salute the flag - but don't worship it. You put flowers at grave sites, without worshipping the tombstone. Catholics don't celebrate Mass to commune with Mary or saints. Statues are representations of real people - to help us remember them and means to help us recall how they died or what they did (just as equestrian statues help us know what heroes did).
+1 I'm an atheist and the thought of someone disrupting a religious service is sickening. Sorry to hear that stuff like this occurs in the US.
They did not worship the serpent and the powers were related to their faith, not the serpent on the pole. God commanded them to do this if they are to live and they obeyed with full faith. Their obedience and faith was completely invested in God himself not any object. When they looked upon the serpent God kept his promise and healed them. God could have commanded them to put anything on that pole because it is inconsequential.
They did not bow to the Ark they bowed to God. The Ark was the holy place where God communed with Israel.
Israel did not make any images "unto thee", unto themselves, but unto God as he commanded.
And we don't bow or pray to the flags, flowers, and tombstones like Catholics do to statues of Mary, Jesus, and saints. I'm not anti-Catholic or an extremist I just disagree with certain parts of Catholic doctrine and traditions. No one should be going around smashing their statues. I hope someday they smash them themselves.
Very well put shok.
Do you think you could me MORE of an ASS? The whole frigging point of JusAdBellums post was that we DO NOT WORSHIP STATUES. And that point just bounced right off your jellied intellect. You already have your preconceived notions of what Catholics do, what we believe and despite DIRECT and CLEAR explanation, you continue in your FALSE ideas. You don't have a clue. The names of the desecrators was listed in the local paper, I'll IM them to you so you can go on the next raid. You are essentially performing the same act...right here, right now....QShok: (and I paraphrase) 'Despite what you say, explain, claim or prove by scripture or Church history, Catholics worship idols.'
Sorry, but my 'religious tolerance' control button has popped off and I can't seem to find it among the shattered pieces of our altar.
Up yours, too, Dram.
Ok fill me in. Do Catholics bow to the statues?
Catholics don't bow down before statues and graven images of Christ? They don't kiss rosary's and rings? They don't have statues, and objects "blessed" by a priest? They don't pray to a saint as if that saint was actually standing there? A window or grilled cheese sandwich isn't worshiped because it has the "likeness" of the Virgin Mary or Jesus on it when nobody living today has ever seen either?
C'mon Twire... You're anger isn't righteous when you fly off like you just did and call someone names and you know it. I understand what happened in your church and it was wrong and you have every right to be angry at the people who did that. But bro, that anger and contempt you have for the posters here is gonna eat you alive...
I won't have pictures of Jesus in my home for the simple fact that I don't know what he looked like. So, to me, to have a picture or likeness of Him, would be constitute having a graven image. Same as a cross. Although we are told to "remember the cross", I believe we are told to remember what Jesus did for us on that cross. My thought is that if Jesus were executed in an electric chair instead of a cross, would you hang an electric chair on your wall and kneel before it?
I'm sorry this turned into such a debate I only wanted to denounce those extremists while shedding some light on their beliefs. I may agree with their principles but I totally disagree with their criminal behaviour. There is plenty of Catholic bashing going on in other threads that I wanted no part of.
My family is Catholic so I know Catholicism. My step mother is Catholic and she told me to pray to Mary once. There are alot things I don't like about Catholicism and alot of things I do like. I've said plenty of times in GD forum that I love the new Pope and its true. He's got his head screwed on straighter then the Anglican bishops and many protestants.
Again I'm sorry for hurt feelings I just wanted to give people some insight.
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Originally Posted By Dramborleg:
Very well put shok.
Up yours, too, Dram.
Nice direct attack there Twire, lets see what Va-G has to say bout that mmmkay?
Better edit that out.
Shok had a very reasonable post that was very reserved and non-attack based. I congratulated his restraint and sincere wishes.
You are promoting hate there fella and that is inconsistant with this forum.
Be right back, you wonderful fella', just hang tight till Va-G shows up.
Oh I see. Your culture is such that you are incapable of distinguishing the vastly different concepts of "honor", "reverence", and worship.
So for you, kissing anything - wife, child, ground (after swimming ashore from a shipwreck), your new AR.... is idolatry.
Presenting flowers to anyone or thing is also Idolatry.
Saluting the flag, taking off one's hat, standing for the athem, covering one's heart at the same... idolatry.
Showing any respect for a tomb - idolatry.
Keeping photos of loved ones...idolatry. Having icons on your computer - idolatry. etc.
FWIW kissing a rosary icon of Jesus shows we respect and love Jesus! How is that idolatry except in some poor culture that doesn't admit distinctions?
Praying TO Mary. Yes. And your point is? I ask you to pray for me. That's "praying to you" so you pray for me... You get caught up on the cultural blinkers reading something into what's not there - which I attempted to show with the common expression "sun rise" being understood as the planet turning, not the sun moving.
Our Lord and the apostles asked that we pray for one another. It's also true that the souls in Heaven are not dead to the Lord but alive for him. Ergo lifting one's thoughts to them to ask them to pray with us isn't magic, it's human. Or what you think it's metaphysically and scripturally impossible to ask one's angel for help or someone in heaven to pray with you to the Lord?
Fascinating. Looks like alot of people have never read the scripture. Rhonda thought it was Peter's angel knocking at the door. Jesus mentioned that the little one's angels are always before the Lord.... Heaven isn't in some far away galaxy, it's a heart beat away, but you'd never know it by reading your heated ASSERTIONS that asking fellow Christians "asleep in the Lord" to pray for us is somehow to make idols of them.
Hogwash. But these myths - that Christians can't possibly ask fellow Christians to pray with them, or that the church in heaven is totally separate from that on earth.... are unbiblical. The only way you arrive at them is by a helpful tradition of men that re-interprets scriptural myopically.
I'm locking this until I can get home and give it the attention it deserves...
I have a couple of Icons it's called the Constitution and Bill Of Rights. I may not hold the same beliefs as my brother but I will stand shoulder to shoulder against anyone who would screw over a members church.
Thank you Va-G, fair enough warning.
Fair enough, VA-Gunnut.
I was out of line. I would say, mea culpa, but I don't want to be accused of repetative prayer or any some such.
As long as you only say mea culpa and not mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa I think you'll be ok.
Sadly, I'm not sure I would have had the restraint shown by folks there. I probably would have been a bit more physical in throwing them out. A flaw in my character? Probably.
I guess it's the triplicate form of a prayer that makes it repetitive? Didn't Our Lord say "Amen, Amen I say to you..."? So repeating a word isn't bad. Course, Rev. has the angels and elders singing "holy, holy, holy..." so saying the same word 3x isn't bad either. hmmmmmm.
Anyone know how many times you have to say a word in prayer before it crosses the dreaded "repetative prayer" threshold thereby becoming ipso facto evil, bad, vain, and worthless?
Now, if the person who prays repeatedly thinks that MERELY repeating a prayer or word over and over again performs some meritorious thing or by force of repetition forces God to do something....then OF COURSE we're talking vain, stupid, useless...
So once again "captain 'lets' distinguish" is called for.
It is sad, the way you believe in G*d is just that. As for graven immages, your immages are for G*d. No differeent thatthe cherubim on the Ark..... it is not like you have agolden calf up there.
Sing as loud as you want to G*d, he listens to all of us.
That is terrible.
There's a right way and a wrong way to express your opinion. They chose poorly.
Sick. Very sick.
"just before communion" - before or after consecration????
They came down and sat in the front row before communion, the fireworks bagan after communion.
Details in The Decatur Daily, available online
Assailants disrupt 11 a.m. Mass at Annunciation of the Lord, breaking altar; felony charges filed
By Ronnie Thomas
DAILY Staff Writer
What would seem to be among the safest places in America came under attack Sunday morning at Annunciation of the Lord Catholic Church on Spring Avenue Southwest.
Hartselle residents face first-degree criminal mischief charges
After communion at the 11 a.m. Mass, a man and woman came forward, screaming.
Then, to the shock and horror of the Rev. Joe Culotta and his congregation, the man turned over the cherished century-old marble altar. It tumbled down the steps and smashed onto the floor, ripping up carpet in front of the first-row pews.
Men from the congregation subdued five people and held them for Decatur police. Detective Todd Walker said no one was injured.
Officers arrested Val Eugene Loughman, 20; his wife, Emily Beth Loughman, 21; Adam Joseph Turgeon, 27; and Lisa Marie Wagner, 26, all of Hartselle. Walker said that "another girl with them was not charged."
He said the four lived together at 1004 Mitweed St. Police charged them with first-degree criminal mischief, a Class C felony, and they were in the Morgan County Jail on Sunday night, each held in lieu of $750 bond.
Walker said Wagner moved to Hartselle from Connecticut and Turgeon from New Hampshire.
John and Jeanne Morris and her mother, 88-year-old Maxine Steele, saw the events unfold up close.
"We were in the front-row pew, on the left side facing the altar. The two people who caused the commotion sat on the right side," Jeanne Morris said. "A mother and her two small children, probably 3 and 5 years old, sat between us."
Morris said the two strangers came in late, about 11:40 a.m. Morris said as she looked at them, she wondered about their dress.
"It was shocking to me. He had on dark pants and a dark blue shirt with scribbling on the front," Morris said. "He had long dark hair that fell past his shoulders, so dark it appeared as if it might have been dyed.
"He reminded me of someone from the 1960s, a pot-smoking hippie. He was about 6 feet tall and very thin."
Morris said the woman wore bluejean shorts and "crazy tights with big black diamonds all over them, like the Joker in a deck of cards, and a T-shirt."
But Morris recalled at one point thinking how wonderful it was that they were there.
"I thought they probably were on vacation or maybe from out of town and didn't know what time Mass started," she said. "They came in right before communion."
Morris said the man and woman leaped from their seats and went to the front and stood near Father Culotta.
"They were screaming something about Catholics worshipping idols and other things. I was so stunned, I didn't hear it all," she said. "The man then went behind the altar and pushed it over. If it had not been so heavy and had not gone straight down the steps, someone would have been hurt, probably those little children sitting near us."
Morris said a stoutly built parishioner who appeared to have had military or police training charged up from behind the man and put his fingers in the loop of his jeans.
"He grabbed the man's hair with his other hand and wrapped it around his hand, subduing him," she said. "My husband grabbed the girl, who had started to run away, in a bear hug."
Morris said three other people were at the back and that it soon became evident they were together.
Meanwhile, Jan Gile of Decatur was in the covered gathering place out front of the sanctuary.
"Those of us there could hear noise and knew that something was wrong," she said. "I looked up and saw people going toward the altar. I thought maybe someone might be attacking the pastor."
Gile said she soon had a general idea of what was happening and called the police.
"The men of the church brought the five people out to one of the benches outside," she said. "Members of the church gathered around them and began talking to them. I could not hear the conversations, but it appeared to be civil talk."
Morris said she was never so proud of Culotta.
'Call the police'
"He was seated when it started, then he rose. Of course, he was shocked, and his eyes widened," she said. "I knew what that altar meant to him. Then he calmly turned and said, 'Call the police.' "
She said after order was restored, he talked calmly to the people.
"We had a lot of elderly people there," she said. "A woman behind me was sobbing uncontrollably, and crying out loud. I know upset how the father (Culotta) was, but it didn't show."
Morris said Culotta told the congregation that "this may have something to do with the article in the newspaper Saturday."
DAILY Religion writer Melanie B. Smith wrote a story titled "Honoring the Saints."
But if that were the case, Morris said, she doesn't believe they read the whole article.
"If they had, they would have seen that we do not worship saints," she said.
"I will give an analogy. It's the same thing as having pictures of your father and mother. You look at them and remember what kind of people they are. It's the same way for Catholics in regard to saints. It's a remembrance. They died for their faith."
Culotta said the choir was closing the communion song when the attack began.
"We take a moment to be still and be quiet. When I opened my eyes, I noticed a man and woman sitting in the front pew I didn't recognize," he said. "Ten or 15 seconds later, they came up to the platform of the sanctuary, saying 'This is idolatry, you are worshipping false ideas, and these are end times.' He went in the back of the altar and pushed it over. It was unreal."
Culotta said the man's action is like someone going into your home and taking one of your most prized possessions and smashing it.
"We just had communion at this altar," the pastor said. "They defiled what's sacred to us. It was made from the original altar at St. Ann (the predecessor church downtown). Children were scared, and people were crying."
But Culotta said the congregation "prayed for those who had just done this. We asked the Lord to be forgiving and to help us to make sense of why something so senseless happens."
He said that after the incident, the church dedicated the month of October to the Virgin Mary and sought her intercession, that "we can all live as brothers and sisters."
Culotta said the sanctuary was in such disarray that Spanish-speaking worshippers, meeting at 1 p.m., had to congregate in the gathering place, where members brought a substitute altar.
"After the police came, I had all of the parishioners tidying up, and I have never received so many hugs in my life as today," Culotta said. "We had all shared in this hurt. It's great to have good from it. We will be stronger after this. But this was a very sad occasion."
Culotta would not allow media to take photographs of the shattered altar, which had been moved in pieces to a storage area.
"Photos would glorify violence," he said.
Church member Don Kyle, who is mayor of Decatur, said he believes a lot of people "get a lot of misinformation about the Roman Catholic Church and other denominations. And some form of frustration shows up from time to time, and you never know the circumstances.
"You just can't explain how people think sometimes. But this certainly doesn't appear to be a rational act."
Kyle added, "We are a pretty hardy bunch, and I don't believe this will impact us at all in a negative way."
Member Annette Lincoln said when she heard about what had happened, she was glad she went to the 8 a.m. Mass.
"At first, I was scared and I was like 'How could these people do this, and is it going to happen somewhere else?' Then I got mad and wished I had been there. I could have thrown my purse."
I find it amazing what people will do "In the name of God."
All this "my religion is right and yours is wrong" baloney really makes them look stupid.
Why can't person A believe in the Sugar God and person B believe in the Mustard God and person C eat Cake???
Wrong and criminal. I think from the looks of them they all might have 10 or 12 points on the I.Q. scale if they added them all up. Even if it was an idol worshiping faith (cult or what ever)you have no right to go in and tear stuff up.
Wow, the first two look happy psycho, the last two look ...well...angry stoned psycho.
I guess if you have to be a psycho, it's best to be happy about it?
They really should have public caning you know....
These people need some painful common sense, tact, manners, and respect lessons that are comprised of short sharp impacts.
Unreal... are we living in the intolerant and decadent East ?
Their pictures make it seem more real
In my experience, it's usually some variety of Baptist that is responsible for this sort of thing. I had no experience with such until I went to college and attended a Baptist service with some friends. Once the pastor found out I was Catholic, he was visibly shaken that a Papist had entered his church. I had no idea what the hell he was talking about until someone explained his behavior later, and showed me some of the
'Vision' spurred church assault
By Chris Paschenko and Melaine B. Smith
DAILY Staff Writers
email@example.com · 340-2442 · firstname.lastname@example.org · 353-4612
Destroying a church's altar was a dream realized for one Hartselle man, who claimed his decision to confront a Decatur Catholic congregation during Mass was heaven-sent.
In an interview Monday from the visitation room at the Morgan County Jail, Adam Joseph Turgeon, 27, admitted his act of knocking over a marble altar Sunday, shortly after communion at Annunciation of the Lord, was poor judgment.
Decatur police charged Turgeon, his common-law wife Lisa Marie Wagner, 26, and their roommates Val Eugene Loughman, 20, and Loughman's wife Emily Beth Loughman, 21, with felony criminal mischief, following the outburst at the 11 a.m. Mass.
"I woke up Sunday, went, pulled in and there it was," Turgeon said of why the group chose Annunciation of the Lord. "I had a vision. Lisa and me were tearing a church apart. That's not what I did. I just tore up a table that people saw as an idol, kneeling before it and bowing before an idol."
The group went inside, listened to prayers and watched parishioners take communion before the outburst, Turgeon said.
"It was so monotone," Turgeon said. "There was no passion, fire, reverence. Through the prayer they were just eyeballing everyone else and saying the words. They have no heart. That's not love. (The Bible says) Make a joyful noise unto the Lord."
Wagner told THE DAILY the group's protest didn't intend to single out Catholics but all forms of "man-made" religion.
"We are in End Times," Wagner said. "This is Armageddon, the end of all things. Basically, what we're in right now is the appearance of the antichrist who we believe to be Pope Benedict (XVI). . . . That's the main reason we chose the Catholic church. It didn't have anything to do with the people in it."
Wagner said she moved with Turgeon from Franklin, N.H., to Decatur in March. Turgeon said he moved to Alabama to start a new life, leaving behind problems with his ex-wife.
Turgeon said he met Val Loughman while working at a pizza restaurant, and the four became friends, playing cards and hanging out. Since August, Turgeon and Wagner have lived with the Loughmans in Hartselle.
Both Wagner and Turgeon deny ever using drugs, and said they were not under the influence when they entered the church.
"All man-made religions are man's efforts at putting God into an altar box," Wagner said. "God is to be loved and worshipped for what he is."
Wagner said she attended a Catholic church as a child and accused Catholics and all religions of worshipping idols.
"Early in life I was involved in a Catholic Mass as kids," Wagner said. "It's the same thing, monotone prayer, no feeling for God. They're just jumping through hoops."
Although Turgeon and Wagner believe in Christ, they don't call themselves Christians. They say they practice spirituality, not religion.
"Adam kicked over the altar, and I was busy yelling about idol worship," Wagner said. "Adam believes God spoke to him, telling both of us to go call out the evils of the Catholic church. We are followers of Christ."
Turgeon said he and Wagner were the only two who participated in the outburst.
"Pushing over the altar, I have to say it was a bit overboard," Turgeon said. "It's not exactly like I knew what I was doing. I couldn't see, and I can't explain it any more."
Turgeon said a fifth person with them, a female he called Helen who lives in Decatur, who wasn't arrested because she denied knowing anything about the incident. Turgeon and Wagner said they believe the End Times have begun because of widespread famine, epidemics and natural disasters like hurricanes and a tsunami that killed thousands.
"I'm just waiting for an earthquake," Turgeon said.
The couple spoke of their readings in the book of Revelation, saying changes in the moon, stars and an asteroid he believes is the woodworm, were all predicted.
Both Turgeon and Wagner believe Pope Benedict is the antichrist. They said Pope Benedict changed his pallium, a band worn over the pope's shoulders, and the color of his ring.
"He changed the color to red," Turgeon said. "A symbol of the blood of the lamb. Every time he puts the ring on he's saying, 'I'm God.' "
Turgeon said he discovered the difference in the pope's attire while browsing the Internet.
The Loughmans posted bond, and Val Loughman answered his door Monday but declined comment.
People who live in the same Hartselle apartment complex on Mitwede Street said the two couples appeared normal and noticed nothing out of the ordinary.
Decatur police didn't comment on whether they considered the actions a hate crime. Police said the investigation continues.
Wagner and Turgeon remained jailed Monday each on bonds of $750. Wagner said when she posts bail she plans to continue her Bible study at a Hartselle coffee shop on Main Street.
The owner of Coffeehouse Junction in Hartselle said the Loughmans, Turgeon and Wagner had two Bible studies in his shop. But Graham Langlois said if he had known what they were going to do at Annunciation Church, he would have barred them. Langlois, 76, said the group didn't know that he is Catholic.
"Nobody is allowed in here who would have any abnormal ideas about church," he said.
The four showed up Friday, Langlois said, saying they wanted to help his business by having the study and bringing in customers. He said only the four met that day and Saturday.
Langlois said a detective told him that Turgeon and Wagner talked about "recruiting people."
From what he overheard, their talk was a typical Bible study, Langlois said. They had Bibles on a table along with their coffee. Langlois said the four came in the day after a story ran in The Hartselle Enquirer addressing rumors of Wiccan or witchcraft classes in the shop. Langlois said he doesn't know why the rumor started, but he and his son noticed business slipping the past two months.
The shop has nothing to do with witchcraft but only wants to sell good coffee, Langlois said. He said the Loughmans, Turgeon and Wagner did not act "screwy."
The Loughmans are both members of Flint Baptist Church but rarely attend, said the Rev. Billy Cagle, pastor.
He said he could recall seeing them at church only two times in 1½ years, once for a directory photo and once for worship.
Cagle said he and Flint Baptist are not anti-Catholic and the couple did not get their beliefs there. He said the Loughmans appear "real impressionable."
Cagle called the Rev. Joe Culotta, pastor of Annunciation, on Monday to assure him of their concern.
"We wanted to make sure he knows that they did not get (their attitudes) from us," Cagle
Culotta said Cagle's call touched him, and he appreciates the contact. Culotta said he does not harbor anger toward the four but is hurt. He said the most painful thing was the intentional breaking of the altar.
"We had just celebrated the Eucharist on it. . . . We felt violated," he said.
The grown men who witnessed the altar breaking shed tears over that, not out of fear, he said.
The altar was made of marble left from a 1950s remodeling of a cathedral in Mobile, said parish officers. St. Ann, the original name of the Decatur parish, used the marble in several altar configurations and remodelings.
The altar has more sentimental and spiritual than monetary worth, Culotta said.
The pastor was impressed with how worshippers tried to reason peacefully with the intruders after they shouted and pushed over the altar.
"I was really proud of them," he said.
The Catholic church does not worship idols but uses items as symbols of faith, said church leaders. They question how critics could judge what Catholics feel in their hearts when they use crosses or other symbols of Christianity in worship.
The four charged Sunday did not read a DAILY religion story published the previous day about relics at Annunciation, Wagner said.
When asked what church Turgeon would target next he replied there would be no further, "acts of destruction." Wagner agreed.
"The only remorse I feel is that it had to come to this before anyone actually could see what they were doing," Wagner said. "And they still don't see it. It wasn't intended to be like that, Mass desecration. We're not doing anything like this again. We're all very peaceful people. We didn't intend to hurt anyone and no one was physically hurt. We made sure of this."
Culotta said the church Pastoral Council decided Monday night to set up a security committee to form a plan in case of future incidents and to consider adding security cameras and making other changes. That recommendation came from police Chief Joel Gilliam, who attended the session. Gilliam said the incident seemed "contained" but cautioned against possible copycat crimes, the pastor said.
Culotta also said the church would send a letter to parishioners describing what happened and outlining steps being taken. He said the staff would contact Catholic Family Services in Huntsville to get help in counseling members, especially families with young children.
The pastor said he would have listening sessions after each Mass this weekend so people can talk about the incident.
The Rev. Pat Tierney of Tuscumbia, dean of the northwest area of the diocese, has called a meeting Thursday to ponder how churches might handle security differently, Culotta said.
Bishop David E. Foley will be at St. Ann Catholic School on Friday and at the church Saturday in celebration of the school's 50th anniversary. Culotta said Foley would surely take the opportunity to reassure the school children, Culotta said.
They did not look terribly out of place. Clearly, they were not familiar faces at church, but since we're the only church in the county, any Catholic visitors to the area end up at Annunciation of the Lord. And in my ten years in town, our church has never been a coat and tie affair by any stretch of the imagination.
Well that didn't take long.
Twire...it was horrible what these nut-jobs did...but I am sure your congregation is happy that they were not violent in their intentions...Crazies like them wind up following even crazier leaders...Charles Manson, anyone?
I dunno...I just think it's pretty crappy when people cannot worship peacefully in their own churches.
Can't wait until Churches join schools in the installation of metal detectors and guards...jeesh!
Twire, glad you and your parish are ok.
Once the pastor found out I was Catholic, he was visibly shaken that a Papist had entered his church.
How unutterably rude and anti Christian can that be, I am amazed.
Somebody needs to start some remedial Christianity classes for these people.
I have never seen or heard of a preacher doing that to someone of a different faith.
Some peoples children
Sorry to hear that happened to you Modog.