After two Lawrence County churches were recently vandalized, authorities say it could be a hate crime.

The two churches are nestled in the hills of southern Lawrence County and are historic and important to the community.  

They’re located beside an 185-year-old cemetery and a history walking bridge.  

“It’s a beautiful place,” Sheriff Jimmy Brown said. “This is a piece of heaven. It’s so wrong people come in and think they can burn churches.”  

Both churches were built in the late 1800s and are on the National Registry of Historical Places.  

But in the last few weeks, authorities said vandals have desecrated the structures – breaking windows, damaging an antique piano and setting a small fire inside the church, which thankfully did not fully combust.  

Sheriff Brown told News 2 the crimes should be considered hate crimes and he is considering bringing in the FBI.  

Brown said he grew up in the area and attended a church like the ones vandalized.  

“It’s very disheartening and disgusting,” he said. “Anyone who believes in God, doing right, being fair and just with people, we’ll, it’s rough. It bothers me greatly.  

Sheriff Brown said he is working hard to find the culprits responsible, and if it is deemed a hate crime, the FBI could be involved.  

Anyone with information is urged to call the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department at 931-762-3626.  

A reward is being considered for information that leads to an arrest.