Are the Black Church Fires Motivated by Religion or Racism?


The string of seven St. Louis church fires are under investigation.

A string of fires at seven churches in St. Louis, Missouri, located within five miles of each other has created a wave of terror in the community.

It is rumored that these incidents are aftermath in response to last year’s killing of an innocent black boy who was shot by a white police officer, however no evidence has been found supporting this claim. In August 2014, when Michael Brown was shot dead by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, it ignited a series of protests where more than two dozen buildings were set ablaze by the angry mob.

Are the Black Church Fires Motivated by Religion or Racism?[/tweetthis]

The seventh fire, started on Thursday, was at an African-American Catholic church, the Shrine of St. Joseph. This was the first in the 2-week string of fires that was not located in a black neighborhood. Rev. Rodrick Burton of New Northside Baptist Church, the second church to be targeted, personally thinks the attacks are racially-motivated, but is not also ruling out the possibility of a religious issue. He believes religious freedom is being challenged.

In spite of all the damage, church leaders are welcoming the perpetrators to join their community. Rev. Rodrick Burton says "We are praying for whoever the perpetrator is, we have forgiven them, but we want it to stop." Pastor Renita Lamkin of St. Johns African Methodist Episcopal Church remarked, “Whoever this is, you have our attention. Next time you come onto the church land, don't stop at the door. Come on in, and know that there is a body of Christ waiting to love you."

However not all pastors are as welcoming. Rev. David Triggs, a pastor at New Life Missionary said “This is a spiritually sick person.”

New research published by Pew indicates that half of all church fires in the past 20 years were intentionally set.

Churches are holding the services outside as the main hallways are yet to be renovated. No human life was lost and no one was reported to be injured in any of the six fire incidents. It is believed that someone is trying to send a message to these incidents but what that message is could not be interpreted yet. It is reported that it could be the hate crime but no evidence or clues are found yet.

ACLU of Missouri’s executive director, Jeffrey Mittman in his statement has called the fires “domestic terrorism.” He further added that blacks have always been victimized by white supremacists when they have raised their voices to demand equality for their rights.

“We have forgiven them, but we want it to stop.” -Rev. Rodrick Burton[/tweetthis]

Police are investigating the case and a reward of $2,000 has been announced for any information that could lead to the perpetrator, Religion News Service reports.


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