Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Leaders Want Action on Firebombings, (Torching of Black Churches Anger Religious Leaders)

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Leaders Want Action on Firebombings, (Torching of Black Churches Anger Religious Leaders)

Article excerpt

National religious leaders are working to draw the attention of law enforcement agencies and the public to the upsurge of firebombings that have destroyed black churches across the South.

The National Council of Churches has called on federal officials to aggressively investigate the fires that have occurred at predominantly black Baptist churches in Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas and Alabama. The council also pressed for recognition of the racist nature of the attacks.

Representatives of the council, the Atlanta-based Center for Democratic Renewal and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights met in Knoxville, Tenn., March 5 and 6 to investigate the firebombings.

The Rev. Mac Charles Jones, associate for racial justice for the council and pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., said local and federal law enforcement official were interviewing members of the firebombed Knoxville, Tenn., Inner City Church "as if they were under suspicion and responsible." He said officials have also not provided protection to pastors who have received death threats.

"We demand that the national offices of the FBI and the (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) begin to take this domestic terrorism seriously," Jones said.

According to the Alabama-based Klan watch organization, at least 28 suspicious fires have broken out at black churches in the South since 1989. Klanwatch says 13 of the churches were burned in the past two months. …

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