A fire outside a Littleton church is being investigated as a bias-motivated arson that may have stemmed from the church's position on an anti-gay marriage amendment in California.
Arapahoe County sheriff's deputies responded to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, about three hours after a church member found a burning copy of The Book of Mormon on the door step.
One member of the church saw two white men in a newer model silver sedan, similar to a Honda Civic, in the parking lot at the time the book was found. The men were dressed in suits, but did not appear to be members of the church, the witness said.
When the men realized they were seen, they drove out of the parking lot.
No damage to the church was reported.
"I think it was more of a statement than an attempt to burn the building down but it is still classified as arson," said Capt. Mark Fisher, Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department.
By the time the burned book was handed over to investigators it had been handled by several other church members.
The caller who reported the fire told authorities a regional facilities manager indicated similar incidents had occurred at other LDS churches, primarily in California, and may have been in retaliation for the LDS church's stance on Proposition 8.
President Tom Priday spoke with 7News on the phone but said he had no comment.
Marcia Koster, a member of the LDS church, called the incident "unfortunate."
Prop 8 bans same-sex marriage in the California constitution and passed last week. Members of the Mormon church contributed millions of dollars in support of Prop 8. Since Election Day, gay rights supporters have targeted Mormon churches all across the country.
The Mormon Church had released a statement saying, in part, "It is wrong to target the church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the Democratic process."
The sheriff's department said the LDS church requested increased patrols as a result of the situation.
Anyone with information on the Littleton Church book burning is asked to contact the Arapahoe County Sheriffs Office at 303-795-4711.
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