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By DAN RODRICKS | June 14, 1996
There might be no grand conspiracy behind the burnings of black churches -- no small group of angry white men plotting each arson -- but, as I heard an African-American woman say in Baltimore yesterday, "It's a conspiracy of the heart." The Southern arsonists might not know each other, they might live in different states -- they might only be teen-agers copying each other -- but they are united in their racism.The rest of us should unite in outrage.It would be good, for instance, if some of our esteemed Southern politicians rose up and joined the president in deploring the attacks -- instead of criticizing him for playing politics with them.
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NEWS
By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun | December 3, 2013
Ocean City fire investigators believe that the man who entered a church on fire, igniting a blaze that killed its pastor, had poured gasoline on himself as part of a suicide plot. The fire marshal's office said Tuesday that John Raymond Sterner covered himself in fuel and set himself on fire just before he burst into St. Paul's by the Sea Episcopal Church as volunteers were opening a Thanksgiving food bank Nov. 26. Sterner died in the blaze, which quickly spread and was responsible for the death of the Rev. David A. Dingwall, whom firefighters found unconscious on the second floor.
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NEWS
By RICHARD FAUSSET and RICHARD FAUSSET,LOS ANGELES TIMES | March 9, 2006
The church fires that lighted up the night skies of rural Alabama and spread fear and anxiety along its remote back roads were set by three Birmingham college students who started their spree as a joke, federal investigators said yesterday. The arrests of the three men - the result of an extensive multi-agency investigation - were a balm for some parishioners of the nine burned churches. But there also was bitterness and bewilderment as churchgoers learned of the alleged motives - and discovered that two of the accused were students at Birmingham-Southern College.
NEWS
By Baltimore Sun staff | January 8, 2011
Baltimore City firefighters battled a two-alarm blaze at a Northwest Baltimore church Saturday morning, fire officials said. Firefighters were called around 9 a.m. to 4014 West Belvedere Avenue where the one story brick Holy Tabernacle of God church was showing "heavy smoke and fire conditions," said Chief Kevin Cartwright, spokesman with the department. Houses in the area were evacuated due to heavy smoke conditions, according to an advisory from Baltimore Firefighters Union Local 734. The fire was placed under control around 10:30 a.m., Cartwright said.
NEWS
By Ginger Thompson and Ginger Thompson,FBI, National Fire Protection Association, S.C. Law Enforcement Division/EMILY HOLMES: SUN STAFFSUN STAFF | June 30, 1996
DIXIANA, S.C. -- Robert Glenn Emerson, a 17-year-old high school dropout, reclined in a beat-up Lazyboy, kept his eyes on a talk show and admitted in a monotone that he's caused some trouble in his life. Once police caught him shoplifting cigarettes. Another time they warned him to stop beating up his girlfriend.In the tumble-down trailer park where he lives, Emerson said a little trouble is the only thing that makes life exciting. But his hazel eyes moved off the television when asked about charges that he burned St. John's Baptist Church.
NEWS
July 17, 1996
LAW OFFICERS investigating a rash of church burnings in Southern states have been unable to pin the crimes on a conspiracy of racists, though a disproportionate number of the burned churches were African-American congregations. That fact and updated statistics showing white churches, too, have been targeted by arsonists over 18 months have led some to conclude the problem may be more perception than reality.They're wrong. Whether the church fires are racially motivated or are the demented work of anti-religion zealots or of sundry groups of bored kids spending their summer vacation being destructive, they must be stopped.
NEWS
By Peter Hermann and Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF | October 11, 1996
Police and fire investigators believe an intruder poured flammable liquid on the altar of an Upper Fells Point church and set it on fire early yesterday, causing $40,000 of damage in an act labeled "devilish work" by the pastor.The blaze, discovered by a neighbor about 3: 30 a.m., caused extensive damage to a back room used to store vestments and to the altar area of St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has 200 members and is sandwiched between rowhouses in the 2000 block of Gough St.Because of a spate of church fires the past two years -- many involving black churches in the South -- scores of federal investigators spent the day at the fire scene, talking to neighbors and pulling up charred floorboards as evidence.
NEWS
By LOS ANGELES TIMES | June 9, 1997
WASHINGTON -- One year after a rash of fires at black churches prompted the creation of a national task force to combat church arson, its leaders said yesterday that they had found no evidence of a racist conspiracy or even a clear pattern to the crimes."
NEWS
June 11, 1996
IT'S FRIGHTENING to dismiss the possibility of a conspiracy in the burning of 30 mostly rural African-American churches in the past 18 months. If these acts of evil have been hatched by individuals, it means you can't simply point an accusing finger at one or two racist organizations. American society must instead take a collective look at itself in the mirror to find the culprits. In doing so, it must ask whether the contentious environment that spawned racial violence in the South 30 years ago has been reborn.
NEWS
By Lisa Respers and Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF | July 18, 1996
In the wake of the burning of black churches in the South, the Baltimore County Fire Department plans to teach houses of worship how to protect themselves against arsonists."
NEWS
By Annie Linskey and Annie Linskey,Sun reporter | July 12, 2007
The firefighters aboard the first engines to arrive on West Saratoga Street saw flames shooting from the church's steeple. Five lugged hoses through the front door and climbed up the tower. But the fire was getting too big, the commander recalled yesterday. Worried that the steeple would collapse, fellow commanders quickly decided the men had to get out. Calls went out over the radio. One man left, but four others remained inside. "They weren't coming out," recalled firefighter Richard A. Altieri II, who had helped set up the hose line.
NEWS
By Frank D. Roylance and Frank D. Roylance,Sun reporter | July 12, 2007
A properly installed lightning protection system could have shielded the First Mount Olive Free Will Baptist Church from Tuesday's lightning strike, according to one of the nation's top experts in the field. "Thirty percent of all fires in church buildings are caused by lightning. And guess why? Steeples," said Martin A. Uman, co-director of the Lightning Research Laboratory at the University of Florida in Gainesville. And that's why most church buildings have protection. Witnesses said Tuesday's bolt ignited a blaze in the wooden spire that rose above First Mount Olive's stone bell tower.
NEWS
By Gadi Dechter, Alia Malik and Julie Turkewitz and Gadi Dechter, Alia Malik and Julie Turkewitz,Sun reporters | July 12, 2007
When the smoke finally cleared, the beloved 140-year-old house of worship emerged roofless but standing -- and West Baltimore church leaders expressed hope yesterday that it could be reborn. "The structure is solid, and the walls we believe to be solid, according to the [city] inspector," said Bishop Oscar E. Brown of First Mount Olive Free Will Baptist Church. "Based upon the projections given up until this point, we won't have to demolish." The Formstone-clad church in the 800 block of W. Saratoga St. caught fire Tuesday after a bolt of lightning struck the steeple, which soon toppled onto the adjoining roof.
NEWS
By RICHARD FAUSSET and RICHARD FAUSSET,LOS ANGELES TIMES | March 9, 2006
The church fires that lighted up the night skies of rural Alabama and spread fear and anxiety along its remote back roads were set by three Birmingham college students who started their spree as a joke, federal investigators said yesterday. The arrests of the three men - the result of an extensive multi-agency investigation - were a balm for some parishioners of the nine burned churches. But there also was bitterness and bewilderment as churchgoers learned of the alleged motives - and discovered that two of the accused were students at Birmingham-Southern College.
NEWS
By WES SMITH and WES SMITH,ORLANDO SENTINEL | February 12, 2006
GREENE COUNTY, Ala. -- In a natural cathedral formed by looming pines, Deacon Charles Spencer studied the ashes of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church and vowed to protect his own place of worship 10 miles away. "We have six churches within eight miles of our church in Union, and me and my deacons have been watching in shifts every night," Spencer said Thursday. Amid the piney woods, swamplands and cotton fields of rural Alabama stand hundreds of remote "family chapels" of varied denominations, some 100 years old or more.
NEWS
By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE | February 4, 2006
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Suspicious fires destroyed three small churches and damaged two others in central Alabama early yesterday, officials said. All five fires, which investigators said broke out between midnight and 3 a.m., were in rural Bibb County. There were no injuries. The county's chief deputy sheriff, Kenneth Weems, told the Associated Press that the fires were set "as fast as they could drive from one location to the next." Federal officials said they were looking into whether the fires were hate crimes.
NEWS
By LOS ANGELES TIMES | June 9, 1997
WASHINGTON -- One year after a rash of fires at black churches prompted the creation of a national task force to combat church arson, its leaders said yesterday that they had found no evidence of a racist conspiracy or even a clear pattern to the crimes."
NEWS
By Melody Simmons and Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF | July 14, 1997
The elegant velvet banners holding icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary were back. So were the memorial candles for loved ones who helped build the church after World War II, and the detailed, embroidered vestments of the priests.And most important were the faithful, who returned to tiny St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Upper Fells Point yesterday to worship in their parish that was nearly destroyed by arson in October.As Archbishop Antony Sherba blessed the new altar with a troika of candles and a plea for peace and forgiveness, many who packed the 16 small wooden pews whispered a prayer of thanksgiving for the return of their beloved church, wedged between narrow rowhouses on a neat block off South Washington Street.
NEWS
BY A SUN STAFF WRITER | July 30, 2004
Three boys were charged with second-degree arson yesterday after accidentally setting fire to an 81-year-old church east of the Carroll County line, Baltimore County police said. Deer Park United Methodist Church in the 6100 block of Deer Park Road near Reisterstown sustained $250,000 in damage when its roof caught fire after midnight yesterday, police said. No one was injured. Police believe the boys - ages 12, 13 and 14 - had been burning materials near the church when it caught fire.
NEWS
By Childs Walker and Childs Walker,SUN STAFF | January 26, 2004
For two years, the church members ignored a fire marshal's notice that their building was unfit to occupy. On Christmas Eve, they were caught and booted out in the middle of a service. A few days later, they tried to meet in a tent, but they didn't have a permit for that either. The 150 members of Glen Burnie Korean Presbyterian Church are still without a permanent place to worship, and they're uncertain when they'll be able to re-enter the sanctuary they had used since 1998. Their problems stem from an apparent miscommunication with Anne Arundel County fire officials, which they say resulted from their limited knowledge of English and American law. The congregation has met down the road at St. Alban's Episcopal Church the past two Sundays and will continue to meet there for the foreseeable future, said Rev. Chang Eun Chung.
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