Police in Brooklyn, New York are investigating a possible hate crime after someone toppled a statue of Jesus and burned an American flag outside of a Catholic church.
The incident was discovered early Friday morning at St. Athanasius Church, according to their Facebook page.
"We are deeply saddened to inform you that the Cross on our Church property was vandalized last night," the church wrote. "This exhibition of violence and religious hatred is very disturbing. This is definitely an offensive act not only to our Parish but to the Catholic Church!"
Hundreds of people gathered at the church last night to pray for peace and protection throughout the community.
"On such a short notice we all came together to show how strong our Faith is! What an amazing crowd! We are one community! We are one family! We love each other!"
Church pastor, Monsignor David Cassato said the crucifix statue was installed in 2010 to honor the memory of his mother.
"This was truly an act of hatred and today is the saddest day of my twenty years here at this parish," Cassato said. "I went over and spoke to the students in the school about what happened, telling them that hate never wins. We are, and must be, a community that continues to share the message of Easter, that which is of love, hope, and forgiveness."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help restore the church. So far, the effort has raised $1,526 of its $2,000 goal.
"The cross fell, but as we believe, if we unite in our sorrow, we will only rise stronger through Christ," the church wrote.
Who is Jesus? Is he really God’s Son? And what does Jesus have to do with Heaven? Your questions are answered here.