Church-goers have been left shocked after thugs burned Bibles and tore a crucifix from a wall in an orgy of vandalism.

The desecration was discovered when an art group which was meeting in Birkenshaw Methodist Church Hall opened the premises for their session.

As well as scorching Bibles, the vandals slashed hymn books in the wrecking spree. A large crucifix on the interior wall of the church had also been dragged to the floor.

Wires to the speakers and the piano keyboard were also cut and 15 chairs slashed after the culprits broke in through the back door of the church on Bradford Road.

The church’s minister, the Rev Graham Edwards, said the “pointlessness” of the attack had upset him and his parishioners.

The church hall had only been refurbished two years ago and the congregation had moved in from an adjoining building.

Now Mr Edwards and his parish have been left counting the cost of the attack, which he estimates will run to around £2,000.

He said: “Everyone is very upset and it is very sad to go to the effort of refurbishing the whole place to find somebody will break in and, for what seems like no reason at all, will destroy and ruin things.

“What is upsetting people is the pointlessness of it all.”

Mr Edwards did not want to speculate on the motive for the attack, but police confirmed today that nothing had been stolen and the break-in seemed purely designed to cause damage.

Mr Edwards said: “You always wonder what things are about I suppose but I don’t think we are too concerned by that. It upsets you but we are not going to dwell on these things.”

The attack took place sometime between Sunday night, after the final service had taken place, and Monday afternoon, when the art group opened the church hall for their meeting.

A police spokesman confirmed nothing was taken but chairs, a cross and a number of Bibles were damaged.

He said they had spoken to the vicar and the congregation of the church and inquiries were ongoing.

Any witnesses or anyone with information is asked to contact PC 291 Chris Birkenshaw at the Batley Neighbourhood Policing Team on (01924) 295457.