A Book of Mormon was set on fire and left burning on the doorstep of an Arapahoe County church.
The incident happened at about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 1939 E. Easter Ave., according to the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office.
A church member found the book and brought it to the attention of other members. The incident was reported to the Sheriff's Office at about 7:15 p.m.
Church members have told investigators that they believe the incident may be in "retaliation" for Mormon support of Proposition 8, a measure passed in California earlier this month that banned gay marriage.
Bob Meldrum, a church spokesman in Colorado, said church officials "don't know what the motive is," but that the church is "deeply concerned" and "saddened" by the incident.
Opponents of Proposition 8 have picketed churches in California and Utah, and some vandalism has been reported.
On Friday, more than 3,000 people marched in downtown Salt Lake City past the LDS temple and church headquarters, protesting church involvement in the successful measure.
The LDS Church got into the thick of the California battle when church officials encouraged members to actively support the proposition. Mormons are estimated to have given as much as $22 million to the ban effort, according to a report in the Salt Lake City Tribune.
Over the weekend across the Wasatch Front in Utah, windows at several LDS ward houses were shattered by rock throwing and BB-gun shooting vandals. The property crimes in Utah are being investigated.
Investigators here have not established that the book burning is in response to Proposition 8, but regardless, the incident is being investigated as arson and a hate crime.
"Anything you do that tends to intimidate or harass a person based on religion is a felony," said Capt. Mark Fisher of the Sheriff's Office.
The Sheriff's Office has called in investigators with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to aid in the investigation, Fisher said.
In 2007, there were five reported hate crimes carried out at churches, synagogues or temples in Colorado, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation statistics. There also was one hate crime in 2007 that involved arson.
There were a total of 18 reported "religious biased" crimes in the state in 2007, according to the CBI. Four were "anti-Islamic," eight were "anti-Jewish" and four were aimed at other religions, according to the statistics.
The CBI analysis did not have a separate breakdown of reported crimes against the Mormon Church.
Two men were seen driving away from the church parking lot in a silver sedan, possibly a Honda Civic or a similar car, at about the time the book was discovered, the Sheriff's Office said in a news release. The witness did not get a license-plate number.
Anyone with information on the incident or details on possible suspects is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 303-795-4711. by Denver Post