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Flames of Hatred Just around the holiday season in December 1994 a flyer was tacked to the door of the Macedonia Baptist Church in Bloomville South Carolina1 The message on the door of this African-American church was at odds with the Christmas spirit of peace and good will It was an announcement of a Ku Klux Klan rally Six months later after nightfall on June 20 1995 the Macedonia Baptist Church was burned to the ground Earlier that same morning another African-American Church the Mount Zion AME Church in nearby Greelyville SC had also burned to the ground Local police arrested two young white men Christopher Cox 22 and Timothy Adron Welch 23 in connection with the fires The county sheriff Hoyt Collins said Welch was carrying a membership card for the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan one of the most active white supremacist groups in the state when he was arrested Indicted for arson under state law Cox and Welch have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing Meanwhile two former Klansmen who federal authorities say masterminded the burning of the predominately black church in Bloomville were indicted recently on civil rights violations The indictment also charges the two men with burning a Hispanic migrant camp in Manning SC And the FBI is investigating the possibility that the fires at these two churches in Clarendon County SC are linked to fires at other African- American houses of worship throughout the country From January 1 1995 through June 27 1996 there were 73 suspicious fires or acts of desecration at African-American churches2 For African-Americans and all Americans of good will this wave of church burnings has prompted outrage and alarm And it is awakening bitter memories of racist violence during the civil rights struggle - particularly the 1963 bombing of the Sixth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama that killed four young girls Appalling as it is
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