The Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most famous architectural landmarks in all of Europe, and perhaps throughout the entire world, so when it caught fire earlier this week and destroyed much of its structure, it’s no surprise that millions of people from around the world felt it, and many have chosen to donate toward the rebuilding effort, which is said to be in the ballpark of billions of dollars.
That’s great, surely, in a vacuum. But Notre Dame is such a worldwide phenomenon that the reality is it’s not going to have any shortage of donors and donations. It’s quite likely the charitable donations will far exceed what is necessary to renovate the building to its prior glory.
I bring this up because of the fact that it stands in stark contrast to the relatively minimal attention that has been paid to the destruction of three churches in Louisiana, with a Caucasian terrorist setting fire to three of them in historically black regions.
These buildings might not be Notre Dame, but they also don’t draw the attention and the press, and so it has been a much more difficult time in terms of the churches receiving donations to rebuild. Quite frankly it wouldn’t surprise me much if some people were not even aware of these incidents taking place.
The community was so terrorized that the pastor of one historically black church nearby elected to sleep inside the building for fear of an arson attack, in the hopes that he would awaken should an intruder enter, and he would be able to stop it.
So that’s why I want to acknowledge Baltimore Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti for a moment, who donated $100,000 toward the efforts. Former Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson, a Louisiana native, has been active in promoting and seeking donations for the churches as well.
A GoFundMe page set up to help support the three churches and help them rebuild has actually exceeded its goal of $1.8 million, currently standing at just north of $2.1 million at the time of this writing.
The arsons were committed by 21-year-old Holden Matthews, who is the son of a local sheriff’s deputy. He was formally charged yesterday with two counts of simple arson, one count of aggravated arson, and three counts of hate crimes. Please, let’s not turn this into a political debate over whether or not hate crimes are fair. This is just a relaying of the facts.
Churches are quite frequently a cornerstone of a community, a central gathering place where people in a region commune and socialize. While I am non-religious, I fully recognize the significant role that churches can potentially play. To attack a church in this manner is to strike at the heart of a community.