State investigators have been called in on what authorities are calling a serious hate crime.
Seven churches in Stanly and Anson counties were vandalized early Monday morning, tagged with spray paint and messages of hate.
Authorities said the worst case of vandalism targeted the Cedar Hill AME Zion Church in Ansonville, the only church the vandals broke into and destroyed the inside.
Church members stood outside the church Monday night in shock at the messages spray painted on the exterior.
Some read, "God is the devil," and "Go back to Africa."
Elsewhere, swastikas and male genitalia were spray painted on the walls along with racial slurs.
Inside the church, authorities say someone threw chairs through stained glass windows, smashing every one. Tables were overturned and a fire extinguisher was sprayed inside the sanctuary. A small wooden cross on the wall was taken down and partially burned near the front steps.
Reverend Renee Bethea was the most disturbed to see someone had defecated on the church altar.
"I've only seen this kind of hatred in the movies. Whoever did this has a lot of pain, is in a lot of anger," Rev. Bethea said, her eyes welling up with tears.
SBI investigators are working with both the Anson and Stanly County Sheriff?s Offices. Anyone with information should call the Anson County Sheriff?s Office at 704.694.4188
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