Destruction of churches leaves fear that history is repeating


Seven African American churches were set aflame over the span of only ten days.

Maci Jacobs, Feature Editor

The Maryland Police Department has their hands full as three churches burn to the ground in Bethesda. From 1:55 to 2:35 on one July Sunday morning, the Montgomery County Police Department gets a cluster of calls concerning the North Bethesda United Methodist Church and the St. Jane de Chantal Catholic Church. 

When the red, white, and blue lights pulled down the street, they immediately saw both churches engulfed in flames and vandalism. The two cases were extremely similar, leading the fire department and the police force to believe they were caused by the same person or group.

When the fire receded, they found shredded bibles, crosses taken off of the walls, and in both situations, the fire was started at the end of a pew towards the middle of the church. Another reason they are believed to be connected is because of the similarity between the times and the proximity of the churches. 

The Wildwood Baptist Church was found vandalized in July as well. When authorities began the investigation, they found clues leading towards arson, but no action was taken to start any fires. There were pieces of the church’s wooden aspects all over the road and there was quite a bit of debris surrounding the church, brought from the inside. 

In the graveyard adjacent to Wildwood, there were broken headstones. The pastor of the church took no hesitation in stating a simple prayer for the people whose “hearts are so vile to attack churches and graveyards.”

All three of the above churches were located near Washington D.C. and relatively in the same area, all within just a few miles of each other. 

On June 15, in a town called Salisbury, in North Carolina a fire was started around midnight at the Second Methodist Church, ruining three fourths of the church. This historical African American house of God hasn’t held a service in more than 50 years and was built in the 1800’s. 

By the time the fire department had reached the scene, it was already too late. The church was fully exposed to the red and orange heat that danced inside the walls. The fire department was able to contain the fire to only the church, but was not able to save it.

Discrimination is still affecting our community today, so what is stopping us in moving away from it?