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Will the cowardly bigotry ever stop?

House Blenders Holly, Paul, Drew and have emailed me about the latest hate patrol items in the news. Bigotry and ignorance in America just keep on coming, 24/7. You cannot tell me that the free-flowing AmTaliban commentary of Falwell et. al, such as the homo-bigotry he spewed yesterday, wrapped in bible verses, is not like pouring gasoline on a house on fire.

* First off we have the UCC church burnings in Virginia. The United Church of Christ, since the General Synod approved a resolution supporting same-gender marriage equality, and it’s no surprise that it is getting grief from faceless cowards that need to commit arson and vandalism to show their disapproval. It’s a sad state of affairs when the president calls for vigilance against terrorists — but he’s not talking about these home-grown agents of terror.

St. John’s Reformed UCC in Middlebrook, Va., was vandalized sometime early Saturday morning (July 9) with anti-gay graffiti. Fire was set and caused damage to a portion of the church, but did not spread throughout the entire building, according to the Rev. John Deckenback, the UCC’s Central Atlantic Conference Minister.

“An attempt to torch the building was not successful,” he said. Police and church leaders believe the attempted arson came in response to the UCC’s General Synod gay-affirming vote on July 4 when delegates overwhelmingly approved a resolution supporting same-gender marriage equality. “The graffiti appears to be related to Synod issues,” Deckenback told United Church News. “We have put out a note to all our clergy and congregations in the area, asking them to be vigilant and to be in prayer.”

The Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC’s general minister and president, said the entire 1.3-million-member denomination would be offering prayers of support for St. John’s Reformed UCC and its pastor, the Rev. Dorcus J. Lohr.

“My heart goes out to the people of St. John’s UCC in Middlebrook,” Thomas said. “The violation of sacred space is traumatic for a congregation, particularly when a message of hate targets a church’s efforts to reach out in the spirit of Christ’s love to all people.”

“I knew that the decision of our General Synod on July 4 to affirm marriage equality for same-gender couples would be controversial both within and beyond the church,” he said. “It saddens me to realize that, for a few, disagreement has moved to acts of violence.”

…Earlier this year, Deckenback said, two other churches in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley were vandalized near the time the United Church of Christ’s Stillspeaking Initiative began running television ads welcoming all people, including gays and lesbians.

There’s also a DKos thread on the topic, Extinguish the Fires of Hate.

Brian Leftwich, a member of the Roberts Street Church of Christ in Sparta, Tenn., looks at the ruin left by a fire that officials say was the work of an arsonist. No injuries were reported in the rash of fires that broke out just before 5 a.m. yesterday, officials said. Derek Wilson, a Sparta city firefighter, surveys damage at Roberts Street Church of Christ yesterday in Sparta, Tenn. Seven separate fires destroyed a church, heavily damaged another church and burned five vacant houses, authorities said.

* In Sparta, TN, we’ve got more churches ablaze.

Seven arson fires broke out yesterday in a neighborhood in this small Middle Tennessee town, inflicting heavy damage on two black churches and burning five vacant houses, authorities said. Sparta police detective Allen Selby said there’s no evidence to suggest the arsons were part of a racist hate crime, but authorities are not ruling out anything.

No injuries were reported in the fires, which broke out just before 5 a.m. in the White County seat, 75 miles east of Nashville. The churches that burned were on the same street. As firefighters arrived to fight one fire, Selby said, “They looked down the street, and the other church was fully involved.”

The FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and White County Sheriff’s Department are investigating. The FBI was called in because federal law covers church arson. Authorities have interviewed 17 people, and two of those interviews were conducted at the White County Jail, but Selby said there are no suspects yet.

Roberts Street Church of Christ was destroyed while Kynette United Methodist Church was heavily damaged. Both served black congregations, Mayor Tom Pedigo said.

About 5% of Sparta’s 5,000 residents are black, according to census figures.

“I think, as far as the total community is concerned, I don’t see any racial implications to it,” Pedigo said. “We’re searching all avenues we can. We want to find the answer to this as soon as possible, and I think we can.”

Only the front wall remained standing at the Church of Christ, a cinderblock building with white vinyl siding.

Church member Tommy Leftwich lives nearby and saw the building in flames. “It was a hurtful feeling, an empty feeling in my stomach. I’ve spent many a year in there,” Leftwich said.

* Next on the list is the Klan fliers being passed out in Ohio, in Hamilton (Holly notes is just north of Cincinnati and Amelia is east of Cincinnati). As with the cowardly cross-burnings in Durham, these losers don’t have the balls to show their bigoted faces.

Robed and hooded Ku Klux Klan members distributed white supremacist literature in a Hamilton neighborhood late last week in a city where a 9-year-old girl was raped June 19, allegedly by a Hispanic man.

…Elmer Thompson, 35, said he was shocked at 3:30 a.m. Friday when he opened the front door of his Corwin Street home in south Hamilton to leave for work, and found a man dressed in white Klan garb on his doorstep. “He had one foot on my step and was in a bent-down motion to lay the envelope on my porch,” Thompson said. He said the man tried to hand him a flier but Thompson let the literature fall to the ground, telling the man he wasn’t interested. The man walked off without saying anything.

…The flier was similar to what was distributed in mailboxes and on cars in the area of B and Franklin streets and Ross Avenue in the city’s west side a week earlier. The fliers contained references to the rape case and contact information for the Imperial Klans of America in Amelia, Ohio. A picture of the rape suspect, Alfredo Lopez-Cruz, was on the flyer.

The flier said: “Your child might be next” and recommended the country be “cleansed.

[Actually, in an earlier story on this incident, the description of the flier was more specific.The flier contained the words “WANTED” and a picture of Cruz. “Your child might be next.” “The time is now to stand against this and cleanse our ‘Country’ of this brown flood.]

City officials and church leaders who work with the Hispanic community have been trying to ease tensions in the ethnically diverse Sycamore Street neighborh
ood near downtown since the rape. Police think an arson fire at the Sycamore Street house where the rape occurred was retaliation.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding