Sunday, February 12, 2006

More evidence in church fires

A 10th Baptist church was burned in Alabama on Saturday, the Beaverton Freewill Baptist Church in Lamar County in northwest Alabama near the Mississippi line, and new evidence is coming out.
Investigators are looking for at least two white men in their 20s or 30s, possibly driving a dark SUV. There is no racial motive, as five of the congregations were white, and five were black. They believe the men may have been temporarily trapped in one of the fires, and may be injured. Authorities are asking the arsonists to contact them.
The crimes appear to be directly targeting Baptist churches. In several cases, the arsonists have passed up more accessible Methodist churches and churches of other denominations. In each case, they appear to have kicked in the door, walked to the pulpit and communion area, and set the fire in that part of the church.
Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch has been to the affected churches, to "hug on necks" and also to offer financial assistance to all of the churches affected. Four of the burned churches are Southern Baptist, five are affiliated with African-American Baptist denominations, and one is Freewill Baptist.
According to the Alabama Baptist, a sign outside Dancy First Baptist, one of the first churches to be burned, says, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."