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JERUSALEM (RNS) Israel’s chief rabbis are among the Jews in Israel and abroad who have strongly condemned an arson attack on a mosque in northern Israel. The rabbis made a solidarity visit to the Israeli Arab village of Tuba Zanghariya, near Galilee, on Monday (Oct. 3), soon after vandals torched the mosque. The U.S. State […] Read More

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (RNS) After two accomplices pleaded guilty, the sole man to stand trial for torching a black church the night of President Obama’s election was confronted with secretly taped recordings during opening arguments on Monday (March 21). “Gas, straight-up gas. Hit the corners and the whole thing went straight up,” Michael F. Jacques said […] Read More

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (RNS) A defendant accused in a racially motivated arson on Thursday (Feb. 3) took the witness stand and told a federal judge he had no role in the 2008 blaze that razed a predominantly black church hours after President Obama was elected. Michael F. Jacques Jr., 26, one of three defendants accused of […] Read More

CORVALLIS, Ore. (RNS) Rain didn’t stop the Corvallis community from showing up in swarms at a candlelight vigil Tuesday (Nov. 30) outside a mosque that was hit by arson after an occasional worshipper was charged in a terror plot. Residents came by the hundreds, sporting winter rain gear and umbrellas, holding their hands over their […] Read More

WASHINGTON (RNS) For playwright Marcus Gardley, the theater is his pulpit and plays are his sermons. His latest production, “every tongue confess,” seeks answers to the questions that swirled around the spate of arsons that hit black churches in the South in the 1990s. “How deep does your forgiveness go?” Gardley asks in an interview. […] Read More

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (RNS) The first of three men charged with torching a black church hours after President Obama’s 2008 election was sentenced to nine years in prison on Monday (Nov. 1) for what the judge called a “particularly vicious act of stupidity.” Benjamin J. Haskell, 23, of Springfield also must pay a share of $1.7 […] Read More

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (RNS) The Rev. Hillary Chrisley has traveled throughout the deep South, helping to rebuild churches torched by arson, but traveling to the heart of New England was an anomaly for the pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Santa Barbara, Calif. This is our first venture up North, she said, wiping sweat […] Read More

A federal judge in Birmingham on Monday sentenced three former college students to prison for setting fire to nine rural Alabama churches in 2006. According to the Birmingham News U.S. District Judge David Proctor sentenced Matthew Cloyd and Benjamin Moseley to eight years and one month in prison and ordered they each pay $3 million […] Read More

The primary topic at the Courthouse Grill in Carrollton, Ala., this past week has been the arrest of three young, urban college students for setting fires in nine rural Baptist churches in the Black Belt. Dancy First Baptist, which was badly damaged, is less than 25 miles south on state route 17 from the cafe. […] Read More

While federal investigators described the motive behind last month’s cluster of church fires in Alabama as a prank that got out of hand, some religious leaders were unconvinced. “When a church is burned and attacked in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />America, faith itself and religious expression is under attack,” Patrick Mahoney, director […] Read More