The First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs in Mississippi burned down early Wednesday morning. The congregation had been in a legal battle to continue holding services despite the novel coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown orders.
The building went up in flames between 2-4 a.m. Investigators said the church was spray-painted with graffiti before an explosion blew out the front of the building, according to Fox 13. Maj. Kelly McMillian of the Marshall Count Sheriff’s Department confirmed the fire to be a criminal act of arson.
Thomas More Society senior counsel and lawyer for the church, Stephen Crampton, spoke with Fox News about the fire and said the perpetrators spray-painted a message that read, “I Bet you stay home now you hypokrits.”
“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,” Crampton said. “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.”
He added, “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.”