The burning of a church in northern Mississippi this week is being investigated as arson because of a spray-painted message at the scene that seemed to criticize the church’s defiance of coronavirus restrictions.
First Pentecostal Church had sued the city of Holly Springs, Miss., which is about an hour southeast of Memphis, arguing that its stay-at-home order had violated the church’s right to free speech and interfered with its members’ ability to worship.
After firefighters put out the blaze early Wednesday, the police found a message, “Bet you stay home now you hypokrits,” spray-painted on the ground near the church’s doors, according to Maj. Kelly McMillen of the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department.
A photograph of the graffiti also appears to show an atomic symbol with an “A” in the center, which is sometimes used as a logo for atheist groups.
Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi said on Twitter that he was “heartbroken and furious” about the fire.
I am heartbroken and furious. In Mississippi, a church was just burned to the ground. They had been trying to open services. There was graffiti on the lot which read “Bet you stay home now you hypocrites.”
What is this pandemic doing to us? We need prayer for this country.
After growing frustration with the city’s executive orders, the first of which was issued on March 23, the church’s pastor, Jerry Waldrop, confronted city officials at a demonstration at a local Walmart. The church also filed a lawsuit against the city in April.
The rise in faith-based protests in America against lockdown has prompted the ACLJ to take on attempts to weaponize the COVID-19 crisis against faith and their “Stop the Atheist Attacks on Prayer & Faith During the Coronovirus Pandemic” page has already garnered 66K signatures. Their website states: We’re here to defend localities. We’ve been battling and defeating FFRF and other anti-Christian groups for years. Prayer and expressions of faith are not only constitutional, they are crucial during this pandemic.
They been contacted by a number of public officials who have been harassed by an anti-Christian organization called the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) because they OFFERED PRAYER or other expressions of faith for the families they serve. FFRF even sent a harassing letter to one governor for designating a Day of Prayer regarding the virus.