Details are emerging about the recent torching of a Presbyterian church in Delaware, including documents about the attacker’s motive. A suspect found and arrested by law enforcement made unsolicited statements confirming he had “burned the church,” and that he had set the sanctuary on fire “out of vengeance and anger.”
The attack happened late Monday night when the suspect broke into Reach Church in Bear, Delaware, and proceeded to trash the interior before setting numerous fires across the sanctuary. Firefighters were able to control the blaze after is caused extensive internal damage, though they had to drill into the church’s steeple to do so.
Total damage to the worship place has been estimated at $250,000.
Despite the nature of the attack, the congregation has come together in public gatherings to pray for the suspect, going as far as welcoming the man to join the community in worship. Pastor Chuck Betters quoted Matthew 5:44 in his response to the attack; “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Betters vowed the sanctuary will be rebuilt.
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The attack on the Delaware church the latest in a string of attacks against houses of worship in recent weeks, though it is one of the first to target a protestant denomination.
In other recent targeted incidents, potential causes include anger over reopening during Covid, association with figures deemed unacceptable by protesters (such as St. Junipero Serra), and general anti-Catholic hate. Officials involved in the Delaware investigation have yet to state whether the suspect will be charged with a hate crime.