A protester threw a bomb into the church that was the center of protests by those who felt the church had an "extremist, hateful messaging against the LGBT community," Worthy News reports. First Works Baptist Church in El Monte, Calif., was bombed at 1 a.m. by what authorities believe is an Improvised Explosive Device, or IED.
The group that headed the protests, Keep El Monte Friendly, stated they did not believe any of their protesters were involved. One of KEMF's organizers, Brian Olmos, stated "We never encouraged any forms of violence."
According to a statement by the FBI, there is no established motive, but the bureau is looking into hate crimes as a possibility. However, they just opened the investigation recently so there is still much they haven't determined yet.
The church belongs to a network of 30 churches called the New Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement, which is led by pastor Steven Anderson, who made headlines for telling his congregation he prayed for then-President Barack Obama to die. He also claimed the Jews lied about the holocaust, which put him on the list of people labeled ethnicist toward Jewish persons by the Anti-Defamation League.
Further, in 2016 after the shooting at Pulse nightclub, a gay bar in Orlando, Anderson allegedly stated "These people all should have been killed, anyway, but they should have been killed through the proper channels, as in they should have been executed by a righteous government that would have tried them, convicted them, and saw them executed."
The church is headed by a pastor who is a close associate with Anderson, and at a 2019 "Make American Straight Again" rally he advocated for the government to kill all homosexuals, stating "We don’t advocate Christians to go out and be vigilantes and try to put these f— to death. We want the government to do it."
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Chalabala
John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Washington Gazette, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.