Louisiana's Burned Down Black Churches Get a Spike in Donations after Notre Dame Fire

The churches still have a long way to go before they get reconstructed.

The Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris has given new life to church rebuilding donations in the U.S. Over $1.3 million has been collected to achieve the aim of reconstructing three black churches of historical importance in Louisiana. 21-year-old Holden Matthews, the son of a deputy sheriff, has been charged with hate crimes and arson. His trial is scheduled to be held in September. Matthews set fire to the three churches, all located in St. Landry Parish, over ten days. The first church was set alight at the end of March.

As of April 14, a crowdfunding campaign collected a mere $50,000. The amount of raised money soared to $1.3 million by April 17. The total will be distributed equally among the three churches. The spurt in donations came after activists, politicians, and journalists noted that people should pay attention to the Louisiana churches, not just Notre Dame. Among famous people supporting the message are former First Lady and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Yashar Ali, a noted journalist, and Benjamin Watson, a retired NFL player. In his social media post, Watson said these acts of arson do not represent the vast majority in America.

The burning of black churches in the United States is not new. The country has a long list of such crimes. Notable among them is the bombing of the Baptist Church on 16th street in Birmingham, Alabama and the plethora of fires plaguing 145 black churches all over the United States in 1995 and 1996. The latest was black worshippers being shot at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church located in Charleston, South Carolina. The 2015 mass shooting led to the multiple fires being started at black churches all over America. Most of them were racist arson crimes.

Even with increased funding, the American churches will have to traverse a long path as their respective congregations start the rebuilding process. Although the houses of worship had insurance, such coverage is restricted in its scope and will not pay for the reconstruction expenses in full. It does not help that all three churches must be rebuilt as per new standards set post-Hurricane Katrina.

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