Published: 13:00, 30 March 2016
Devil-worshippers could have been responsible for uprooting three wooden crosses on Minster Bunny Bunk over Easter and leaving them planted upside down.
That is one disturbing theory behind the vandalism which has shocked Islanders and dubbed “the work of the Devil” by Sean Barnes on Facebook.
Retired Church of England parish priest Colin Johnson, 69, said: “I find it so desperately sad that someone would do this.
"It not only offends Christians but also, I would imagine, most right-thinking people of any faiths. It goes against all common decency.
“I would have thought the average yob would have just uprooted them and left them on the ground.
"But to go to the trouble of putting them back upside down is very strange. It makes me shiver.
"Using an inverted crucifix is part of Satanic worship. They also recite the Lord’s Prayer backwards.”
The Rev Chris Shipley, vicar of Eastchurch, who was at the traditional Good Friday service on the hill, said: “It is very sad. Some people find the message of Jesus dying on the cross and being resurrected very difficult to understand.
"But I wouldn’t like to say it was the work of the Devil. I don’t know a lot about Devil worship. I wouldn’t want to give the people who did this the oxygen of publicity.”
Dad-of-two David Stockbridge, 34, and his five-year-old daughter Chloe-Anne stumbled over the desecration within hours of the open-air service finishing.
David, from Shurland Avenue, Minster, said: “Chloe-Anne had been learning about Easter at school so I thought it would be nice to show her the crosses.
“When we got there I could not believe they were upside down. Chloe-Anne asked me if they were supposed to be like that. I said I didn’t think so and posted a photo on the Sheppey Gossip Board on Facebook to check.
“Once people confirmed they should not be like that, I took them down and turned them up the right way.
"They weren’t very heavy but very awkward to slot back in the bases. If kids did this, it would have taken quite a few. It was really disrespectful and a very bad example.”
Martin Rive on Facebook blasted the vandalism as being “blasphemy and very disrespectful”; Sharon Stephens said it was “disgraceful” and Traci Jones wrote: “If whoever did it isn’t into religion it is still disgusting they would disrupt an area of beauty. Some people need a slap upside their brainless heads!”
But she praised Mr Stockbridge’s actions. She said: “Nicely done David. Nice to see a considerate human-being.”
"To go to the trouble of putting them back upside down is very strange. It makes me shiver" - Colin Johnson
Dawn Cockburn added: “A shame they were not at the lovely service there this morning, maybe listening to the Easter Message of love and redemption they might not have done it.”
But AJ Lovell wrote: “For centuries, the inverted cross was considered a Christian symbol based on an ancient tradition that the apostle Peter was crucified upside down.
"One version of the story says that Peter, facing martyrdom by crucifixion, requested that his cross be inverted because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as Christ.
"The upside-down cross, sometimes called the Cross of St. Peter or the Petrine cross, thus became a symbol of humility.
"The inverted cross is sometimes associated with the Pope, who Catholics believe can trace his authority back to Peter.”