COVID-19: Ignorant Arsonist Burns Church To The Ground.

If you disagree with a group, burn their building down.

That’s what happened to the First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs, Mississippi.

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (WMC) – A Mississippi church at the center of an arson investigation is the same church currently in a battle with city leaders over a COVID-19 safer-at-home order.

First Pentecostal Church in Holly Springs was destroyed by what investigators believe is an arsonist.

Investigators found graffiti on pavement in the church parking lot that reads, “Bet you stay home now you hypokrits (sic).”

Jerry Waldrop has pastored the church for 31 years.

“We’ve tacked our brains and we have no idea,” Waldrop said. “No enemies that we know of. We don’t know anyone that we even think could be capable of doing something like this.”

The fire comes after Waldrop filed a lawsuit in April against the City of Holly Springs. The 14-page document claims local police officers disrupted a mid-week bible study and the church’s Easter service 10 days prior.

According to the complaint, the pastor held outdoor services when possible but would hold them indoors while practicing social distancing during inclement weather.

The Fire Department says that the fire caused an explosion in the back of the church which blew out the front doors of the building.

The church is involved in a lawsuit against the City of Holly Springs over “stay at home” orders and the closure of the Church after being deemed “non-essential.”

The City had gone further than the State orders in shuttering churches.

The issue stems from Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ inclusion of churches with essential businesses in the state’s safer-at-home order, but the City of Holly Springs did not.

“It is very clear local municipalities can have guidelines that are more strict than the governor’s guidelines, but they cannot have guidelines that directly conflict with what we have put in place,” Reeves said at a news conference Wednesday.

Holly Springs City Attorney Shirley Byers says the City did not consider churches essential business in the safer-at-home order issued March 23 but amended the order April 24 to allow churches to hold drive-thru services.

Unfortunately for the City, a judge disagreed:

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.”

Crampton represented First Pentecostal in court after its pastor Jerry Waldrop was cited for holding Easter Sunday services. The Thomas More Society also claimed police disrupted a Bible study group held 10 days after the citation.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills issued an order allowing First Pentecostal to stay open for drive-thru services.

“These were outrageous violations of these parishioners’ rights,” Crampton said at the time of the ruling. “On both occasions, Holly Springs law enforcement personnel ignored the fact that all church members present were practicing social distancing and complying with all applicable health requirements. Bible study attendees were threatened with criminal citations for violation of Holly Springs’ Stay Home Order.”

He added: “Due to the threats and the citation of Pastor Waldrop, the church members were fearful of holding services on Sunday and exercising their constitutionally protected rights.”

In the drive-thru ruling from Mills, the court said it “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 barbershop would have no right to assert.”

The church says they will be back, although they are understandably a little shaken by the arson and aren’t sure which direction they want to take at this moment.

Pastor Jerry Waldrop was unsure what to do from here because the church is a total loss.

“We are going to keep the faith, and we’re going to keep doing what we have always done, and maybe not on this location,” said Waldrop. “I’ll get with our faithful people, and maybe we’ll rent a building or whatever we need to do for the time being.”

Waldrop said the church planned to rebuild on site.

“We have the means, so whatever it takes, that’s what we will do,” Waldrop said. “We have a tight group that’s been faithful, so whatever means are necessary, that is what I will do.

Waldrop tried to make sense of what happened to his church.

“It’s just hard to wrap your head around the idea that someone may have orchestrated this or done this,” he said.

We are having the same problem wrapping our heads around this.

Some low IQ Neanderthal who can’t spell the word “hypocrite” discovered fire and used it in on a church and a group of people that were not causing him harm in the least.

That’s what this has come to.

We will drink a toast of Dr Pepper when hopefully the police and fire departments catch this arsonist who did put other people at risk. We hope that if and when he is convicted, the judge imposes the penalty of him having to pay for the reconstruction of the church.

To us, that would be justice.

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