With race hatred growing across the United States -- thanks in large part to George W. Bush with his mass slaughter of innocent Iraqis -- the rise of racist hate cults should be expected, in my opinion.


Two Black Churches Burn in Tennessee Arson
Associated Press Writer

July 8, 2005, 5:25 PM CDT

SPARTA, Tenn. -- Seven arson fires broke out Friday in a neighborhood in this small Tennessee town, inflicting heavy damage on two black churches and burning five vacant houses, authorities said.

Sparta police detective Allen Selby said there was no evidence to suggest the arsons were part of a racist hate crime, but authorities were not ruling out anything.

The fires erupted in the middle of the night, and no one was injured. No arrests have been made, but Mayor Tom Pedigo said authorities are pursuing some tips.

"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."

The FBI was called in because federal law covers church arson, authorities said. Authorities have interviewed 17 people and two of those interviews were conducted at the county jail, but Selby said there were no suspects.

The blazes stunned residents and parishioners, many of whom have spent years attending the churches.

Tommy Leftwich lives nearby the Roberts Street Church of Christ 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.

Roberts Street Church of Christ was destroyed, while Kynette United Methodist Church was heavily damaged. The Methodist church was established in the 1880s and rebuilt as a brick structure in 1960. On Friday, the exterior was stained by smoke and the roof was sagging where the fire burned through.

"The interior is just about ruined, the musical instruments are ruined and the basement is ruined," said church member Tommy Glenn.

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

The two churches were on the same street, police detective Allen Selby said. As firefighters arrived to fight one fire, Selby said, "they looked down the street and the other church was fully involved."

The mayor held a community meeting in a resident's yard and took questions from about two dozen people from the neighborhood.

"We're doing everything in our power to find out what's going on and bring this to a close," Pedigo said. "It's a terrible thing that happened in Sparta."

At the end of the meeting, the residents held hands for a prayer by The Rev. Ever Mudambanuki of Kynette UMC

"This is the devil's work. We have forgiven them, but we want them to be caught," she said.

Sparta is a town of 5,000 people located 75 miles southeast of Nashville. About 5 percent of its residents are black, according to census figures.

The five unoccupied houses were less seriously damaged, with only one receiving what authorities described as moderate damage.

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press



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