The Defilement of Sacred Things | Script Revolution

The Defilement of Sacred Things

The Defilement of Sacred Things
When a church is vandalized before its anniversary celebration,
a local priest works with the police and the mayor to discover who did it and why.

Child abuse cases levelled against the Catholic Church have been widely reported in media, written about in multiple books, and depicted in a handful of heart-breaking movies, such as Spotlight, Doubt, Procession and many more. Whether fiction or non-fiction, these tragic tales must be tackled with care and consideration, regardless of the medium.

J. Alexander Johnson’s poignant and painful short screenplay, “The Defilement of Sacred Things’, approaches this subject with an equal measure of respect, gravitas, and enthrallment.

The story starts inside OLD ST. MARY’S CATHEDRAL sanctuary at night. A meticulous middle-aged monsignor -- Mark Dickson -- methodically cleans the church in preparation for the upcoming 130th Anniversary Celebration of the venerable house of worship. His clothing and demeanor reflect a man who takes their responsibilities and all related to St. Mary’s with the utmost importance and faith.

As he quietly goes about sweeping and dusting, an intruder enters the holy space. Taking Dickson by surprise.

Turning, he sees a large white GUY IN BLACK. He doesn’t have a mask. A Louisville slugger is in his hand, the back of which is tattooed with a CELTIC CROSS. There’s a look of confusion when he sees Mark.

MARK                                                 GUY IN BLACK
What are you—?                                     You’re not supposed to—

A bat to the gut stops Mark’s words. He reels. A bat to the side knocks him to the ground. Then a kick for good measure.

After knocking the Monsignor senseless, the assailant takes a baseball bat to several items in the church and then uses a can of spray paint to write along a wall: “Trent Copeland says ‘hi’”.

Following the incident, the police and a Mayor Stanford Miles come to the scene to assess the damage and interview the mauled and marred Monsignor. Despite his heightened anxiety, Dickson provides the officers a detailed description of the man who attacked him: male, white, large, with the only distinguishing feature being a tattoo of a CELTIC CROSS on the back of the perp’s hand.

The mayor is also shaken by the brazen defacement of the church and the vicious attack on the hapless Monsignor. Consequently, he makes clear to Dickson and the Detectives that he wants to be actively kept abreast of all developments (big or small). He clearly feels protective of the Monsignor, ordering his officers at the scene to give the Monsignor space needed to recuperate and support his preparation for the big Church’s Anniversary, and it’s guest of honor: Cardinal Inman.

(to the detectives)
Yes, let’s let the monsignor do his duties.
It took my office a lot of effort to get Cardinal
Inman to agree to do the Mass. This needs to
go right. Work the case. Find the man with the
Celtic cross, and report your findings to me.
(to Mark)
St. Mary’s. I practically grew up here.
My family and I sat in these very pews. I love
this church. It is my honor and privilege to
help bring justice to anyone who would
defile such a sacred place.

Using the detailed description of the perp, it doesn’t take long for the detectives find the guy who attacked the Monsignor and ravaged the Church.

Name’s Joe Finch. Got picked a few years
back for some GTAs. High profile ones, too.
Got your friend the mayor’s car once.
Spent a few years in prison.
Since then, he had a quiet streak.
Went legit. But I guess times got tough
and the money was too good.


Yes. It looks like Mr. Finch was paid to vandalize the church.

Whilst interviewing perp the Detectives learn that Mr. Finch was merely hired muscle. A puppet controlled by a puppeteer. Subsequently, he was informed that the Church would be empty at the time of his infraction, therefore no one need be harmed. The puppet master’s mandate was to vandalize the facility and use spray paint to boisterously proclaim the mysterious message about ‘Trent Copeland’. Which of course then beggars the question: Who is Trent Copeland?

As the Detectives dig deeper they eventually learn that the enigmatic Mr. Copeland -- aged thirty-eight -- had recently committed suicide while residing at an institution for the mentally ill. A shocking revelation that leads to even more questions and consternation for all involved.

When Monsignor Dickson learns about one of the key findings discovered by the detectives, it prompts him to recall a long-lost memory. A critical recollection that could reveal the truth of whom is behind the ransacking the Church… and more importantly, their motivation.

J. Alexander Johnson’s story evocatively untangles the web behind the mystery, bringing to light the dark and disturbing truth behind what galvanized the principal antagonist to plan and execute a deliberate and demonstrative act of overt defiance. This is an unforgivable truth for which there’s no punishment equal to the burden of perpetual pain inflicted upon the victim. The evil exploits of someone who posed as a puritanical bastion of morality, can never undo the vile acts of physical and emotional defilement inflicted upon an innocent child.

While this may not be a ‘feel good’ story, it is highly compelling and topical. More importantly… stories like this are necessary for they help people understand the abuses within the Catholic Church, that have only truly come to light over the last ten years. And the more films, books, and podcasts that bring this excruciating subject into the public domain, the more likely it is that victims can speak out. And those responsible for victimizing them, can therefore be held to account.

So, if you’re a filmmaker seeking something that carries a meaty moral message, this is a perfect fit. J. Alexander Johnson has bravely composed a meaningful tale that deserves to be produced on its moral merits alone. It’s also a subject matter that will resonate for film festival organizers. Moreover, if the filming emulates the eloquent sentiment of the writer, it will not only get into festivals, but will likely come out of them with a multitude of accolades.

The Script

The Defilement of Sacred Things

When a church is vandalized before its anniversary celebration, a local priest works with the police and the mayor to discover who did it and why.

About The Reviewer

J.B. Storey's picture
Real name: 

My writing career started when I was no more than nine or ten years old. However, it took the form of imaginary adventures my many toys would embark upon. As I got older, I started to write essays at school. I excelled at the ones where I could freely mold my ideas into fiction. Not as good when it came to scrutinizing existing star-crossed literature written five hundred years ago.

So, what did I do with all of that imagination? I studied history and philosophy. Why? For the most...Read more

About The Writer

J. Alexander Johnson's picture

J. Alexander Johnson, a native of Detroit, Michigan, cut his writing teeth on short screenplays. Over the last two years, Alexander has written over fifteen short screenplays, including "The Golden West", a period drama set at the Golden West Hotel, the only hotel in the early 20th century that was owned by and catered to Black people. "The Golden West" was the winner in the Ink2Screen Monthly Writing Contest for May of 2020. Alexander has written one feature, "The Bus Driver", a...Read more