A group of Catholic churches around the country that were vandalized and burned over the weekend might be linked to the same George Floyd-related protests aimed at destroying symbols and statues.
Black Lives Matter leaders have demanded the toppling of statues of former U.S. presidents, abolitionists and Confederate symbols following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Activist Shaun King went one step further and called for any image depicting a "White European" Jesus to be ripped down because they represent "White supremacy" and "racist propaganda."
Some on social media users have brought attention to the scarcity of coverage surrounding the church burnings
"Churches are being burned to the ground. What?" right-wing author Mike Cernovich, said in a video he tweeted. "Why is this not the biggest story of the day."
A Florida man drove his vehicle into the Queen of Peace Catholic Church on Saturday while parishioners were praying inside. He poured gas in the foyer and lit it on fire, setting the building ablaze, according to Marion County Sheriff's Office.
Wondering why the fire had not received more attention, Sean Feucht, a California worship leader and pastor, tweeted, "Where's the outrage?"
"Why's is the media refusing to acknowledge & condemn the many Catholic Churches vandalized or burned lately? People were worshipping INSIDE THE CHURCH in Florida yesterday when it was lit on fire!" Feucht said.
Steven Anthony Shields, 24, was charged with attempted murder, arson, burglary, and evading arrest in connection to the Florida church burning. According to investigators, he said he did something "awesome" and he was on a "mission" as he confessed to setting the church on fire, an arrest affidavit obtained by the Ocala Star-Banner read.
Another fire broke out across the country in Los Angeles at a 249-year-old San Gabriel Catholic church.
The church was being renovated at the time for its 250th anniversary when the blaze started at 4 a.m., engulfing its roof and interior.
Capt. Antonio Negrete of the San Gabriel Fire Department told the local Fox 11 news outlet to investigate whether the church burning is connected to the recent destruction of several Junipero Serra monuments. Serra was the founder of the California mission system.
"This will be another box that they're going to check off," he said, adding, "It's a tragic loss for our city. It's our city identifier."
In New York, a statue of the Virgin Mary at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Queens on July 10 had the work "IDOL" spray-painted on it at 3 a.m. ET, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Fr. James Kuroly, rector and president of Cathedral Prep, said the incident was "an act of hatred."
"Obviously, this tragedy saddens us deeply but it also renews our hope and faith in the Lord as he has shown his goodness in the many people who have already reached out to us," Kuroly said. "We are sincerely grateful for the help we have received as well as the prayers. Please continue praying for those who committed this act of vandalism and hatred toward Our Lady and the Church."
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