Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Louisiana on Friday to praise the members of three African American churches for the inspiring way they responded to the destruction of their church buildings by an arsonist and noted that attacks on communities of faith have become "all too frequent."
As CBN News reported, Holden Matthews, 21, the son of a local sheriff's deputy, has been accused of setting three separate fires at St. Mary Baptist Church on March 26, the Greater Union Baptist Church on April 2, and the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church on April 4.
The vice president also tweeted about his visit to Louisiana.
Joined the pastors of Mt Pleasant Baptist Church, St. Mary Baptist Church, & Greater Union Baptist Church at what remains of Mt Pleasant after an arsonist set fire to these 3 churches. What happened here was evil, but these communities of faith overcame evil with good. pic.twitter.com/koWAtd3usE
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 3, 2019
Speaking in front of the burned ruins of the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church building in Opelousas, Pence also alluded to the recent attacks on synagogues in California and Pittsburgh and on a mosque in New Zealand.
"Sadly we live in a time when attacks on communities of faith have become all too frequent," the vice president said.
"No one should ever fear for their safety in a house of worship, anywhere in this country, anywhere in the world. Attacks on communities of faith must stop," he said as church members around him raised a chorus of "amens."
Pence said he came to Louisiana to show the church members and their leaders that their country was supporting them. He added that he had been inspired by their example of how they met the destruction of their church buildings with courage and resilience as well as the forgiveness they gave to the man accused of setting the fires.
"After what happened at Saint Mary's and here at Mount Pleasant and Greater Union, you overcame evil with good," the vice president noted. "You lived out your faith and had a testimony for Christ that echoed across the country. And I must tell you also: It was very inspirational to us to know that you still had Easter services right here at Mount Pleasant."
"There's a verse that says, "If the foundation crumbles, how can the righteous stand?" And as I arrived today, the pastors and I spoke about the fact that while these -- the structure of these churches burned, what was evident to people all across America is the foundation was firm -- a foundation of faith and heart to charity," Pence continued.
"And I know, in my heart of hearts, based on that witness of faith and the generous outpouring of people across this state and across this nation, with great leadership at the state and federal level, and with great leadership in the pulpits of not only these three churches but all the churches across this area, that the best days for these three churches, for faith in Louisiana and faith in America, are yet to come," he concluded.
A recent online GoFundMe campaign to help rebuild the three church buildings raised more than $2.1 million. Pence said the sound of hammers would soon be heard at all three churches as reconstruction gets underway.