CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - As many as four Presbyterian churches in southeast Missouri have received threats that their buildings will be burned to the ground.
Pastors at Westminster Presbyterian Church, as well as First Presbyterian Church in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, and Perryville said they received a notice in the mail warning them that their church could be burned.
This comes after a decision made last week that allows clergy members of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America to perform gay marriage ceremonies.
The letter sent to First Presbyterian Church in Cape Girardeau cites Leviticus chapter 20, verse 13 to suggest that the Bible says marriage should be between a woman and a man.
The letter goes on to say, "Any church that accepts this action, should be burned to the ground... The above statement could happen to any church that performs this action... You have been warned churches."
Police in Cape Giardeau are aware of one church that has received this notice.
Cpl. Darin Hickey said they take these types of threats very seriously because anything that could put people in danger is a concern.
He said at this moment, they aren't sure who the sender is, what their goal might be or whether they will actually follow through with this threat.
Hickey said officers will do extra patrols in the area of the church.
Anyone that sees suspicious activity is asked to call police.
Westminster Presbyterian Church pastor Karen Dumey said this threat is a concern because it appears that someone is angry enough that they want to use violence against the church.
Nancy Gillard is the pastor for First Presbyterian Church in Perryville.
Gillard said she has never received a threat like this in the 25 years she has been involved with a church.
Heartland residents like Kelli Franklin say violence is not the answer.
"Everybody is going to be different, it's just the way life is and they need to learn to accept it," Franklin said. "I mean it's just reminds me of a little kid in the store not getting something they want and they throw a fit or they start tearing up stuff. It's just ridiculous. We all need to grow up and figure it out a different way, we're adults."
Others like Jared Routhieaux say we should have never reached this point in the first place.
"You can always find an easier and more peaceful way route," Routhieaux said. "I only believe that violence should be resorted to if your life is threatened or if somebody comes into your home and is breaking into your home. Other than that violence is not the answer ever."