Deputies investigate church vandalism as hate crime

Lighthouse Baptist Church

June 7, 2010 9:29:55 AM PDT
The Chatham County Sheriff's Office is investigating an incident of church vandalism as a hate crime.

Deputies say the Lighthouse Baptist Church at 12063 U.S. 15-501 was broken into sometime early Saturday morning, late Friday night or possibly even before that.

"I got here about 10 minutes after seven and that's when I saw the window and when I saw the window I opened the door and as soon as I opened the door, everything was trashed," Pastor Mark Hall said. "You could see the windows that were broken, mainly."

They say the vandals broke windows to gain access to the church, which was damaged from the sanctuary all the way to the dining area.

"They trashed the pulpit area," Hall explained. "They destroyed our piano, spray paint on the piano. You can see the holes they busted on the chairs on the podium. Got all the light fixtures. Broke everyone of them."

Church members describe derogatory graffiti painted in the church, holes punched and kicked into the walls, signs and symbols including "666" drawn all over the place, musical instruments and furniture overturned, even microphones and sound equipment stolen.

Deputies add the cross was even stolen off the center of the church's pulpit area Downstairs, in another part of the building, there were broken windows, televisions, microwaves and a cross spray painted upside down. Sinks and toilets in the women's bathroom were smashed.

Despite the damage, the Bibles were not touched.

Hall said he was grateful no one was at the church at the time and no one was hurt.

Sunday's service went on as planned in tents the church set up outside.

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