The pastor of the First Works Baptist Church has drawn condemnation.
The FBI and native authorities are investigating an explosion and vandalism at a church in Southern California identified for its controversial pastor and his anti-LGBT views.
The First Works Baptist Church in El Monte, California, simply east of downtown Los Angeles, was shaken by a blast within the early morning hours Saturday, based on the FBI. When responding to the scene simply after 1 a.m. native time there was smoke popping out of the home windows and the skin of the church was lined with graffiti, the Los Angeles County Fireplace Division stated.
“It appeared that the partitions to the church had been vandalized in addition to all of the home windows,” El Monte police Lt. Christopher Cano advised reporters Saturday. “[The windows] appeared at first to be smashed, then we realized that the home windows weren’t smashed, that that they had truly blown out from some sort of explosion.”
The FBI referred to the explosion as an “IED assault” and stated bomb technicians have been on the scene investigating.
Nobody was injured within the blast, police stated.
The First Works Baptist Church and its pastor, Bruce Mejia, has developed a popularity for inflammatory language, labeled by many as hate speech. The Southern Poverty Legislation Heart, which tracks hate teams, labeled First Works Baptist Church a hate group in 2019 for its anti-LGBT stance.
A web-based petition calling for the mayor of El Monte to power the First Works Baptist Church out of the town has garnered over 15,000 signatures.
In experiences and on social media, Mejia strongly opposes homosexual marriage. He additionally has used his social media accounts to repeatedly mock President Joe Biden and is strongly against vaccinations, usually sharing memes dismissing the COVID-19 vaccine.
In feedback to The New York Instances after the blast, Mejia stated, “It isn’t going to actually deter us from doing what we at all times do.”
“We’re not afraid of this. It is just a bit bump within the highway, and we’re nonetheless planning to have church tomorrow, clearly not at this present location, however we’re nonetheless planning to have church and as soon as that is all stated and completed, we’ll return,” he added.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who represents the district the place the explosion occurred, stated in an announcement that “violence is rarely the reply, even in response to hate speech.”
“Though we don’t but know the motive, am I conscious of the anti-LGBTQ+ and misogynistic sermons given by the pastor of the First Works Baptist Church; and my workplace has referred regarding issues pertaining to the pastor to the County’s Human Rights Fee, who has been working in collaboration with the Metropolis of El Monte to deescalate the scenario.”
“I worth inclusivity, range, and equality. I additionally assist the fitting to peacefully protest; nevertheless, this assault is incorrect and it’s harmful,” Solis added. “I urge metropolis leaders, church leaders, and civic leaders to come back collectively and work collectively to deal with hate points in our neighborhood.”
El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona wrote on Twitter, “This early morning’s incident involving the First Works Baptist Church is extremely regarding to me and all of us in our nice Metropolis of El Monte. I’m calling for a full and thorough investigation to happen by all the required companies and entities such because the FBI, LA County Sheriffs, LA County Fireplace, El Monte PD, together with the Los Angeles County Human Relations Fee. As your mayor, I’ll at all times make sure that the Metropolis of El Monte continues to be an instance for civility, respect, and inclusion of all folks throughout the nation.”
A protest scheduled to happen outdoors the church on Sunday was canceled, based on the organizers, Maintain El Monte Pleasant, who wrote on social media they “would by no means promote, encourage or condone any violence or acts of hurt.”
“We kindly encourage everybody to not have interaction with violence and to not combat hate with hate,” the group wrote in a second message on Fb late Saturday. “Once more, Maintain El Monte Pleasant was created to unite the neighborhood and create a secure area for all. We’ll proceed to progressively overcome this wrestle by way of peace.”
The FBI requested for anybody with info on the explosion to name 310-477-6565.