Church congregants in Tennessee were in for a big surprise when they arrived Sunday and found a number of satanic messages and symbols left by vandals. Intruders burned a page of the Bible, turned crosses upside down and etched "666" in an altar, local news reported.
One of the crosses that was turned upside down inside the church (Image source: WREG-TV)
Upon entering the Lebanon United Methodist Church in Jackson, Tenn., parishioners quickly realized something wasn't right.
"The cross on the altar table was turned upside down," church member Kay Williams told Memphis' WREG-TV. "And a cross that stays at the front of the church was taken down and also put on the table and turned upside down.”
To recap all that was amiss: The number "666" were carved into the church altar along with an upside-down cross, creating lasting damage to the wood -- and the 666th page of an old Bible was burned. Additionally, the words "smoke meth and hail satan" were etched into the altar.
The numbers 666 were carved into an altar (Image source: WREG-TV)
Lebanon United Methodist is small, with only about 20 members.
A welcoming place, its front doors are left unlocked so the faithful can come and pray at will. But it's that openness that led to the weekend's disturbing events.
The 666th page of a Bible was burned as well (Image source: WREG-TV)
So far, the church is being pretty forgiving, despite the fact that those responsible have not yet been detained.
"We don’t hate them, we still love them. Cause they’re a child of God," Williams told WREG.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office believes that this latest incident is one in a series of other local church break-ins. Now, the pastor is faced with a choice: Should the church now lock its doors and abandon the open policies it has espoused for decades?