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Why are black churches being burned by arsonists? Why wasn’t the media talking about it?

Why are black churches being burned by arsonists? Why wasn’t the media talking about it?

Image of Macon, GA church after arson from WMAZ-TV

Update: This article was written Sunday evening. In the lag between writing and publishing, many outlets have started covering the arson. Hence, the headline has changed from “isn’t the media” to “wasn’t the media”, and we’ve added links to more stories.

Following the racially-motivated killings at Mother Emmanuel, there were fires in at least six african american churches. Three have been confirmed as the work of arsonists, and authorities are investigating in other cases.

Emma Green, managing editor of, has written about the history of church burnings and the current investigations into who is committing these acts of arson. Arson at churches was once far more prevalent than it is today, although these latest burnings seem to signify an uptick of this crime.

Other outlets covering this story include The Root and The Telegraph of Macon, which contains a quote from a local Fire Department Sergeant making a rather surprising assertion that they don’t suspect it is a hate crime.

Were you aware of these latest attacks? Why do you think news agencies aren’t covering this, despite the potential link in motive between these arsons and the racist ideology of the Charleston shooter?

Other outlets now covering this include NPR and the Washington Post.

Posted by David Streever


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Michael Rich

Journalism history is filled with so-called crime waves, including church burnings, that have been media-generated. It’s far too early to tell if these are part of a part of a right-wing response. Unfortunately, rural churches are prone to fires. Arson sometimes is the result of burglars trying to cover up evidence. I don’t want to downplay the sad reality of these churches’ fate, but it does nobody any good to jump to conclusions. We’ve been wrong on this issue before.

Annette Chappell

NPR, MSN, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post have all been covering this. I think your headline is misleading.

Glenn Horton-Smith
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