Per Tom Dees of FOX13 Memphis:
First Pentacostal Church Holly Springs. Arson is Suspected. Investigators say the church was spray painted with graffiti and set on fire. There was a major explosion in the back of the church that blew out the front.
Fox 13 Memphis reports a church in North Mississippi was destroyed after an explosion caught the building on fire. What was left of the First Pentecostal Church was still smoldering five hours after the fire started. Investigators said they picked up multiple spray paint cans that may have been used for graffiti and that there was a large explosion near the back of the building that blew out the front.
Fox News reports the First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs in Mississippi burned down early Wednesday morning. The congregation had been in a legal battle to continue holding services despite the novel coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown orders.
The building went up in flames between 2-4 a.m. Investigators said the church was spray-painted with graffiti before an explosion blew out the front of the building, according to Fox 13. Maj. Kelly McMillian of the Marshall Count Sheriff’s Department confirmed the fire to be a criminal act of arson.
Thomas More Society senior counsel and lawyer for the church, Stephen Crampton, spoke with Fox News about the fire and said the perpetrators spray-painted a message that read, “I Bet you stay home now you hypokrits.”
“We’re in a time where I don’t think it’s any secret that there’s a growing hostility toward churches, across the board,” Crampton said. “And now, here are churches like First Pentecostal that are sort of stirring up the waters by being outspoken and somewhat firm about seeking to protect their Constitutional rights.”
He added, “They’ve had bad comments [sent their way] on social media. … There is just a segment that takes issue with the church standing up, and the church just being the church.”
Crampton represented First Pentecostal in court after its pastor Jerry Waldrop was cited for holding Easter Sunday services. The Thomas More Society also claimed police disrupted a Bible study group held 10 days after the citation.