Knoxville’s fire department says arsonists lit fire to bales of hay left at the front doors of College Hill Seventh-Day Adventist Church. According to local WATE, investigators are treating the fire as vandalism and arson, not as a hate crime, despite the majority black congregation and the recent series of church burnings.
The early-morning fire at God’s Power Church of Christ is being investigated as arson, and the Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief told WMAZ the fire appears to be suspicious. The local paper The Telegraph reports the doors to the church were wired shut when firefighters arrived at the scene, but it is not currently being investigated as a hate crime. Still, locals wondered if race was a factor because the majority of the congregation is black.
Gibson County, Tennessee
A fire on June 23 destroyed the Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Tennessee. Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives say lightning could be to blame, as is the case at South Carolina’s Mount Zion AME Church. Just as local authorities have said in the seven other recent church burnings across the country, investigators say this is an isolated incident. Local WBBJ-TV said the church had few members and had stood since the 1800s.
Charlotte, North Carolina
A suspected arson caused an estimated $250,000 in damage at the predominantly black Briar Creek Road Baptist Church. Investigators are trying to determine if it was a hate crime, The Charlotte Observer reports. The fire forced the church to move the location of its summer camp, shown in the above video from 2013.
Warrenville, South Carolina
State investigators haven’t determined the cause of the fire at Glover Grove Baptist Church. The predominantly black church is just a three-hour drive west from Charleston, South Carolina, where nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were killed June 17. After several other black churches were burned, federal agents have added their efforts to the local investigation at Glover Grove.
A fire at Tallahassee’s Greater Miracle Temple caused $700,000 worth of damage, all but destroying the facility. Local fire officials told the Tallahassee Democrat wiring exposed by a falling tree branch was almost certainly the cause of the fire. None of the historically black church’s 200 or so members were injured.
Greeleyville, South Carolina
The Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church burned late Tuesday night after heavy storms rolled through Greeleyville, South Carolina. Federal investigators believe lightning is the most likely cause. The historically black church was burned down by the KKK in 1995 and rebuilt the next year. In 1996, then-President Clinton called for racial harmony when he spoke at Mount Zion's rededication. See his full speech above.