Vice President Mike Pence visited Louisiana on Friday to show his support to the members of the three historically black churches that were set ablaze by an arsonist in late March and early April.
Pence announced his visit to the Bayou State on May 2, during the National Day of Prayer service at the White House. There he noted that attacks on houses of worship are becoming “all too frequent.”
According to the Associated Press, while speaking to the congregants at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church – one of the three churches authorities believe was set on fire by Holden Matthews, the son of a local sheriff's deputy – the Vice President lamented the attacks on the Louisiana churches as well as the recent shootings in synagogues in Pennsylvania and California and the mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Pence said, “Sadly we live in a time when attacks on communities of faith have become all too frequent.”
He continued, "No one should ever fear for their safety in a house of worship, anywhere in this country, anywhere in the world. Attacks on communities of faith must stop." Parishioners around him affirmed his statement as many of them said "amen."
The Vice President then spoke directly of the arson attacks calling the church burnings “evil.” He said, "What happened here at Mt. Pleasant, at Greater Union, at St. Mary's was evil, but these communities of faith have overcome evil with good.”
As Christian Headlines previously reported, three churches were set on fire starting with St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, LA on March 26. A few days later, the Greater Union Baptists Church in Opelousas, LA and the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church were also set ablaze, one on April 2 and the other on April 4, respectively.
Holden Matthews, 21, has been arrested in connection with the crimes and has been charged with three counts of arson and three counts of violating Louisiana’s hate crime law.
Matthews is maintaining his innocence.
A GoFundMe page was started in April to help the three churches raise funds for rebuilding and some 39 thousand donors gave more than $2.5 million for the construction of new church buildings.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Ethan Miller/Staff