Mississippi church goes down in flames, suspected arson for defying stay-at-home order

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A Mississippi church that has been vocal in its opposition to local coronavirus lockdown policies has suffered an arson attack allegedly motivated by anger over the church standing up for its First Amendment rights.

“First Pentecostal Church in Holly Springs was destroyed by what investigators believe is an arsonist. Investigators found graffiti on pavement in the church parking lot that reads, ‘Bet you stay home now you hypokrits (sic),'” Jackson station WLBT reported Wednesday.

According to reports, firefighters were called to the scene around 2:00 am early Wednesday morning. Upon arriving, they found the church fully engulfed in flames.

By Wednesday morning, nothing remained — no walls, no roof, nothing.

Jerry Waldrop, who’s reportedly pastored the church for 31 years, was stunned.

“There’s nothing left. It’s gone,” he said to WLBT.

Listen (disable your adblocker if the video doesn’t appear):

Speaking with station WHBQ, Marshall County Sheriff Department criminal investigator Kelly McMillen said, “We do believe that based on the evidence and what we have seen at the scene and on top of the hill this was an arson.”

The evidence includes multiple spray paint cans that were found in the church’s vicinity.

The station noted that the fire comes amid a legal battle between the church and the city of Holly Springs.

“The church recently filed a federal lawsuit against Holly Springs after the city cited Waldrop for violating the stay at home order by having services in the church instead of a drive-up service on a stormy Easter Sunday,” it reported.

“The church claimed the restriction violates its First Amendment rights. To prove a point, Waldrop’s congregation walked into Walmart on a Sunday to show people were allowed to gather at the store but not in church.”

Apparently, someone took great offense to this valid point.

Questioned about the suit Wednesday, Waldrop said only that his current focus is on keeping the church’s services going and moving toward rebuilding.

“We are going to keep the faith, and we’re going to keep doing what we have always done, and maybe not on this location. I’ll get with our faithful people, and maybe we’ll rent a building or whatever we need to do for the time being,” he said to WHBQ.


Asked about who may have committed the arson, he appeared lost.

“We’ve racked our brains and we have no idea,” Waldrop said. “No enemies that we know of. We don’t know anyone that we even think could be capable of doing something like this.”

The church’s attorney, Thomas More Society senior counsel Stephen Crampton, suspects the arson is tied to the church standing up for its rights.

“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,” he said to Fox News. “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.”

“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.”

Indeed. After visiting Walmart on Sunday, the church uploaded footage from the visit to YouTube, and that footage has since been inundated with hateful comments.

Here’s a small sampling:

  • “Thank yall for reinforcing the stereotype for Mississippi being uneducated and too hard headed to listen to good sense because of “church” and wanting to prove whatever point yall wanted to make. Congratulations on top tier inconsideration.”
  • “These people are committing acts of terrorism. The feds need to step in and arrest all of them.”
  • Some people just need a shovel to the back of the head.”
  • “Fools, shopping for food is a necessary thing, praying to an invisible fictional character is not.”

See the hateful, irrational and ignorant comments for yourself at YouTube:

Hopefully, everyone who left a hateful comment is now a suspect in the arson.

And FYI, walking around as a family unit at a grocery store isn’t an act of terrorism. But burning down a church certainly is.

Speaking of which, photos from the aftermath of the fire may be seen below:


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