Pagan Books Stolen from Mail, Replaced by Hymnal

Cara Schulz —  September 15, 2015 — 65 Comments

DILLSBORO, NC – Giovanna Sforza knew something was wrong when she picked up several of her boxes from the U.S. Post Office.

[Photo Credit: Wikimedia / user: Coolcaesar ]

[Photo Credit: Wikimedia / user: Coolcaesar ]

“Six of the eight boxes of books were damaged badly. They had been ripped open along entire sides of the box and the contents obviously had been exposed and put back in the boxes and taped back together by the post office. When I received some of the boxes, there were still entire sides wide open,” said Sforza.

When she opened the boxes to check the contents, she noticed around 20 books, covering a range of Pagan topics, were missing. Even more curious, a Baptist hymnal was put in their place.

Sforza had been visiting her mother in Arizona for a year. After that length of time, she found that she had accumulated far more items than she could fit in her car for the trek back to North Carolina. Sforza went to the post office in Chandler, Arizona to learn the best way to ship books. The clerk recommended buying book boxes from U Haul and mailing those boxes at the USPS book rate. Sforza followed the directions, insured the boxes for $300, and mailed them. Then, she set off for North Carolina.

When she finally arrived, Sforza went to pick up her boxes at the local post office. They were clearly damaged, which she immediately noted to the clerk. She also took photographs of the damaged boxes right when she took possession. Then, Sforza took the boxes home to open them.

Upon checking the contents against a list made in Arizona, Sforza quickly realized that just the books that appeared to have Pagan topics had been stolen, and a brand new Baptist hymnal had been placed in one of the boxes before it was resealed. She immediately called the post office to report the theft.

[Courtesy Photos]

[Courtesy Photos]

Sforza believes the theft of her books, and the addition of the hymnal, could only have been done by postal employees. She theorized, “Somewhere along the postal route, while in federal Postal Service custody, a box or more broke open, a federal postal employee saw the contents, removed my books, and placed a hymnal inside in their place. Apparently they felt I needed to be singing the praises of Jesus. I do not know how else this could have happened. I am really shocked, because I would presume, that there are cameras at these places?”

She also said that she is surprised a federal employee would risk a possible jail sentence of 5 years in prison and up to a $5000 fine just to make a point.

When Sforza called the post office to explain what had happened, she got little in the way of help. “The woman on the phone sounded like she couldn’t care less. Didn’t sound surprised, was not outraged or apologetic. She just told me to go online and file a claim. Nothing she could do about it,” she said.

Sforza has filed a claim with the post office and plans to file federal charges. The Wild Hunt will update this story as more information becomes available. Both the Dillsboro and the Chandler post offices did not respond to requests for comment at time of publication.

Cara Schulz

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Cara Schulz is a journalist and author living in Minnesota with her husband and cat. She has previously written for PAGAN+politics, PNC-Minnesota, and Patheos. Her work has appeared in several books by Bibliotheca Alexandrina and she's the author of Martinis & Marshmallows: A Field Guide to Luxury Tent Camping and (Almost) Foolproof Mead Making. She loves red wine, camping, and has no tattoos.