This is 2014? Charred Cross Found Outside African-American Church in Tennessee
On Tuesday morning, residents of a small Tennessee community woke up to find a symbol of hate propped against the gate of a predominately African-American church.
Pastor Vernon Hooks, who has served the congregation of New Hope Baptist Church for 34 years, said that a member of the church found the burned cross at approximately 6:30 am, still reeking from the gasoline used to set the cross on fire.
He said he was shocked to find the vile display in front of his own church.
“I’d heard of this. I’ve seen it perhaps at other churches, other buildings, but not in a million years did I think this would happen to New Hope because we are a close community,” he said.
The pastor also said he plans on transforming the hateful message into a teaching tool for his congregation, leaving the charred cross in place so others can see what hate truly looks like.
He also plans to tell the congregation, “That we will keep doing God’s will, that we won’t give up, we won’t let this be a setback for us as a congregation.”
So far, there are no leads in the case, but the local police are investigating it as a hate crime.
St. Charles Gill of the Clarksville Police Department also said that while the investigation has just begun, he is not sure the Ku Klux Klan is behind the cross at this point.
“We’ve heard no chatter of hate groups in town and we usually would hear about that,” Gill pointed out.
He also noted that their has been a string of vandalisms lately in the area and it is possible a bunch of kids did it thinking they were being funny.
In the meantime, Pastor Hooks said he and his congregation have already forgiven the perpetrators no matter who they are.
“Whoever did it, we forgive them,” Hooks told his congregants on Tuesday. “That’s the message, that we are a forgiving church and we’ll let the police do their job.”
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