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Rehoboth Beach book shop removes candles with Joe Biden image on Sacred Heart of Jesus

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Candles for sale in Rehoboth Beach were pulled off the shelf by the local retailer.

REHOBOTH BEACH – Small businesses are always happy to get the attention of customers, especially in this pandemic-laden year, but Susan Kehoe of “Browseabout Books” could have probably done without the scrutiny of the last couple of days at her independent book shop.

She wants people to know it didn’t happen on purpose.

Kehoe ordered from an online vendor what she described as “candles in a tin” with an image of Joe Biden, the Delawarean and president-elect who owns a vacation home in this Delaware beach town. What she received could best be described as votive candles, the kind people light when they offer prayers at church. Those candles, too, were adorned with an image of Biden transposed on the body of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The candles were displayed on her sales floor over the weekend when a customer pointed them out and Kehoe became the target of backlash for what some customers perceived as trivializing and politicizing an important worship item. Some people were angry.

“I guess they look like prayer candles. I certainly regret that we put them out and have apologized to anyone who is offended,” Kehoe said. She has taken them off the shelf and they are no longer for sale, she said.

“This was 100 percent human error,” Kehoe said. “It’s something we didn’t order and when they were pointed out we immediately pulled them off the floor.”

Kehoe said her business is an important part of the Rehoboth community and she has reached out to others, including Father William Cocco, pastor of St. Edmond parish in town. She said she had an email exchange with Father Cocco in which he said he understands it was a mistake and takes her word for it when she says she intended no harm.

A rosary recitation was held Dec. 1 at St. Edmond Church. A spokesperson at St. Edmond’s confirmed Father Cocco agrees that the business made a mistake and that Kehoe immediately moved to rectify it. The parish also confirmed that Kehoe has offered to donate 50 books for children in the parish.