A conservative Holly Springs, Mississippi church that met during the Coronavirus Pandemic despite local orders to stop was burned in what investigators believe could be arson. Photographs from the scene shared on social media show that a message was spray painted in the parking lot.
According to a Facebook post by Dr. Phil Kidd, “They spray painted in the parking lot ‘You Will Stay Home Now You Hypocrite.’ Please pray for this pastor and the people as they journey through this situation: First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs, MS.”
The church sued the city over the church’s constitutional right to meet during the Pandemic. The church was represented in its lawsuit by the Thomas More Society.
Apparently, the fire is being treated as arson. According to a statement from the Thomas More Society’s Senior Counsel Stephen Crampton, “The Thomas More Society is saddened by the news that a fire destroyed First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs last night. To hear that the authorities are treating this as arson is distressing and we pray that the perpetrators of this terrible event will be brought to justice. Our most sincere prayers are with the people of this church and their pastor. They have been grieving the inability to gather as a congregation since the COVID-19 pandemic stay home orders forced the closure of their church home and now they must grieve the loss of this spiritual home, their place of worship.”
Following police breaking up the church’s Easter service, the congregation moved to Wal-Mart to demonstrate a point. The church argued that if Wal-Mart and similar stores were open, the church should be open too.
Reformation Charlotte reported on that event. According to their report, “To make a point, the Church decided to take their entire congregation to the local Wal-Mart — where far more people were already gathered — to protest the unconstitutional order to limit the free expression of religion.”
The church won its lawsuit against the city. According to the Thomas More Society’s press release, The court order “acknowledges that the First Amendment guarantee of the Free Exercise of religion is one of the most important ones set forth in the Bill of Rights, and, without question, it grants the Church in this case the right to assert certain rights which, say, a barber shop would have no right to assert.”
Now, as investigators probe the fire as an arson, and with the message scrawled on the parking lot–everyone is wondering if this is a hate crime directed against Christians.