St. John Missionary Baptist Church located on U.S. Highway 79 was vandalized August 11th, and the pastor told a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputy that he believed the break-in and damage done to be a hate crime and a part of cult worship.

Pastor John Williams told deputies that he had gone to the church August 7th to turn on the air-conditioner so the church could be cooling down. He said that when he left, he crossed the Arkansas River and saw two white males walking down the road that seemed suspicious.

When church members started to arrive Sunday August 11th at about 10am, they noticed wine spilled on the alter and several Bibles and songbooks lying behind the pulpit ripped apart. Williams said he also noticed a page out of a Bible had been ripped out and appeared to have been burned. Some of the plants had been taken from an outside planter and placed inside the pastor’s pulpit.

Entry to the church was gained by breaking in both side doors. Williams said he had never seen anything like this before.