The FBI is now investigating the burnings of three historically Black churches in Louisiana that all occurred within a week of one another.
On March 26, St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre caught fire. Just a week later, on April 2, the Greater Union Baptist Church caught fire; and following after was Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church on April 4.
“We’re very cognizant that there’s a problem, and there’s no coincidence that there are three fires,” State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said at a press conference last week. “We believe these three fires are suspicious.”
Burning churches has historically been known to be an act of violence often used to harass and racially abuse the Black community. “We can’t let this setback stop us from doing what God initially called us to do,” Kyle Sylvester, the pastor of St. Mary’s Baptist Church said.
While members of the churches are staying strong through the ordeal, many acknowledge the pain they feel losing their church home. The fire at Greater Union Baptist burned from the roof to the pews, according to CBS.
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are now involved in the investigation. However, they are reluctant to classify it as a hate crime, claiming it is too early to tell.