Vandals defaced four Long Island churches over the weekend with disturbing graffiti and pagan symbols in what police are investigating as a hate crime, authorities said Sunday.
The perpetrators spray painted “hail Satan,” along with pentagram images, on three churches in North Amityville on New York’s Long Island sometime Friday. Then, on Saturday, vandals defaced a fourth nearby church with the same graffiti and images, the New York Post reported.
A number of pagan religions use the pentagram, a 5-pointed star inside of a circle, as their symbol.
Three of the churches that were vandalized — the Gospel Church, Amityville Full Gospel Tabernacle, and Prayer Tabernacle Church of God in Christ — are Pentecostal. The fourth church, Shaw Temple A.M.E. Zion, is African Methodist Episcopal. All four are located within a mile of one another.
Walter Willie, the pastor at Prayer Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, reacted to the disturbing words and images during a local television interview with WPIX-TV: “They must have a vendetta. To attack a place of healing, a place that helps people in time of great need — whoever did this has hurt in their heart.”
Alton Lamont, a deacon at Amityville Full Gospel Tabernacle, couldn’t believe that someone would commit such a hateful act.
“It’s very upsetting that someone would desecrate a house of God,” he said.
The Suffolk County Police Department said it doesn’t know who defaced the churches or if the four cases are connected, although officials are investigating whether a disgruntled parishioner defaced the buildings. The cases are currently being looked into as potential religious hate crimes, according to the Post.
Suffolk County Police Lt. Bob Donohue is urging the public to call police if they have any information.
“We are disturbed by this. It is disrespectful,” Donohue told WPIX.
George Richardson, 81, of Shaw Temple A.M.E. Zion, said he’s just giving it all to God.
“It is a shame this is what the world is coming to. We need more prayer,” Richardson said.
All four churches carried on with their usual Sunday services, despite what happened.
The incidents occurred just one week after New Covenant Church in East Meadow, New York, located in nearby Nassau County, was desecrated with what the New York Post described as “demonic imagery and phrases.”
(H/T: Daily Caller)