First Pentecostal Church in Mississippi, a small congregation that remained an outspoken opponent against their state government’s lockdown measures, was found burned to the ground in an obvious arson plot. The church, which is located about an hour outside of Memphis, had recently chosen to take legal action by suing the city of Holly Springs for infringing on it’s congregations right to free speech, assembly and worship.
This followed a series of protests, one of which was inside a Walmart, in an effort to point out the hypocrisy of allowing mass crowds inside of a corrupt, tax-dependent box store while criminalizing actual Mass during a time when people are more dependent on worship.
First Pentecostal was still engulfed in flames Wednesday morning when the local firefighters combating the blaze found and interesting message spray painted on the ground by the church’s front doors which read:
“Bet you stay home now you hypokrits”
Just under a month ago, the Mississippi church was granted “permission” to operate drive-thru services by a federal judge after the congregation received citations a few weeks prior on Easter Sunday. It wasn't just law enforcement that infringed on the religious rights of First Pentecostal's members, nails were left in the parking lot before Easter services as a blasphemous attempt to deter churchgoers.
According to court documents, a private Bible study being held by members was also forcibly broken up by local law enforcement shortly after.
Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Stephen Crampton issued this statement:
“These were outrageous violations of these parishioners’ rights. On both occasions, Holly Springs law enforcement personnel ignored the fact that all church members present were practicing social distancing and complying with all applicable health requirements. Bible study attendees were threatened with criminal citations for violation of Holly Springs’ Stay Home Order.”
As a result, the case caught the attention of the Department of Justice which intervened on behalf of the church and in a court statement claimed that the city's actions target religious conduct.
Some are clearly not happy with the decision by the DOJ and the idea that constitutional rights, like the right to worship, don't cease in the face of a pandemic. While the fire was obviously an arson, investigations into the people behind the fire is still ongoing.
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