Investigators are looking into a series of church arson crimes in Mesa, Arizona, including one incident in which Bibles were set on fire on the front steps of a house of worship.

The series of bizarre events began in May and have involved four separate churches in the area. Mesa Baptist Church was the first to be targeted, with burnings unfolding on May 11 and May 17, according to Reuters.

In addition to torched Bibles, Pastor Mark Rice said that the words “Hail Satan” were carved on a metal gate.

“They were sending a message — we reject Christ by burning the Bible and we lift up Satan,” Rice told KTVK-TV.

He added: “That’s been the story of Christianity. I don’t take it as a personal attack, a personal affront as much as I recognize the battle of good and evil and I’m on the good side, the God side and we’re hoping that we can really help these people.”

It wasn’t until June 14 that the next church, East Mesa Christian Church, experienced something similar, with Bible burnings later unfolding at Pilgrim Lutheran Church on June 20 and Calvary Baptist Church on July 7.

The Bibles set ablaze at each church are not believed to have originated from inside the houses of worship, said police, who are investigating the acts of arson as hate crimes.

Authorities have described the suspect as a white or Hispanic male with dark hair in his teens or early 20s. Churches noticing any burning objects on their property are being advised to call 911, according to KTVK-TV.

(H/T: Charisma News)

Front page image via Shutterstock.com

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