OPELOUSAS, LA (WAFB) - Vice President Mike Pence toured the burned remains of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas Friday, May 3.
Photo Source: WVUE
Pence condemned the church arson as “unspeakable evil,” but told congregations and their pastors they “lived out [their] faith and had a testimony for Christ that echoed across the country.”
“No one should ever fear for their safety in a house of worship anywhere in this country or anywhere in the world," he said. “These attacks on communities of faith must stop.”
Air Force Two landed at the Lafayette airport around noon. He met briefly with members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation and Governor John Bel Edwards.
Investigators arrested Holden Matthews in April and charged him with arson and state hate crimes. Law enforcement says they tracked Matthews’ location during the fires using cell phone data and confirmed through surveillance video that a truck registered in Matthews’ father’s name was present during the fires.
Three churches burned: St. Mary’s in Port Barre, Mount Pleasant, and Greater Union in Opelousas.
“The structure of these churches burned. What was evident to people across America is the foundation was firm," Pence said, referring to a foundation in faith. “You overcame evil with good."
Pence praised the congregations for their resilience and thanked people across the world for donating their money and time to help rebuild. He noted his pride in church members, who say they intend to forgive the person who burned their churches.
“Why would you wake up in the morning to hate somebody?” Mt. Pleasant pastor, Gerald Toussaint, said. “The fullness of scripture is love.”
The pastors each thanked Pence for touring the church, and Toussaint told him the visit proved that “God is in the White House.”
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