Several St. Louis religious leaders say they believe racism is the motive for seven church burnings throughout the area since the beginning of October.
According to the Christian Post, police say they believe that a person or group of people have targeted the churches, which vary in denomination. Authorities have yet to declare the burnings a hate crime.
"Holy God … if we ever needed a wake-up call to believe that racism is alive in St. Louis—if this is not it, I don't know what it could be," the Rev. Mike Kinman, an Episcopal priest at St. Louis' Christ Church Cathedral, told the Post.
Since Oct. 8, seven churches have been torched. The latest incident occurred Oct. 17, and authorities have noticed similarities in the burnings.
"It could be someone who has a beef against the church, somebody who might have some mental issues," St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson told the Post. "It runs a gamut until we capture the person or persons."
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson told the Christian Post that the fires are being investigated and that there are currently no suspects.
"It's impossible to ignore that this kind of crime aggravates old wounds, old wounds that were never properly or fully healed," Dotson told the Post. "Whoever this person is, they've picked a fight they can't win. Whoever is out there trying to scare us, whatever they think they're trying to accomplish, they will not succeed."
Read more at the Christian Post.