A fourth church was also burnt down 200 miles away.

The St. Landry Parish in Louisiana witnessed the destruction of three churches within the last ten days. All the three churches burned to the ground were mostly attended by African-American congregants. The first church to be destroyed by fire was St. Mary’s Baptist Church on March 26. Then a week later, just 10 miles away, the Greater Union Baptist Church burnt down. The third church was Mount Pleasant within St. Landry Parish limits. Fortunately no injuries or deaths were reported.

Although a fourth church was burned down approximately 200 miles away in Caddo Parish, authorities do not think it is connected to the others. Investigations into the matter continue with the lead investigator being the Louisiana State Fire Marshall, Butch Browning. The state authority has partnered with the FBI and the ATF to sift through the available evidence to find a cause and a possible motive. Over 100 criminal investigators are on the ground and about 200 investigators scattered all over the United States are working on this case. Browning confirmed the incidents as suspicious and added that investigators believe the three fires are interconnected.

All three rural churches were located on state highways. It is suspected arsonists chose the location thinking not many people would be present and thus there would be no potential witnesses. Black congregants are because the burning of black churches is painfully connected to a shameful period in the history of Louisiana state. Black churches were burned down as a scare tactic during the civil rights era. These actions were done to target not only communities but also individual African-Americans. Investigators are aware of the history and its accompanying trauma. Browning said “We’re hunting them down right now and we’re going to find them. We’re gonna bring them to justice.”

For the congregants of those three churches, services are held as usual. Curtis Zachary, a Deacon of the Morning Star Baptist Church, said the devout would pray with or without a church. The Morning Star Baptist Church welcomed the congregants of the destroyed churches with open arms.

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