Multiple media sources are reporting that one person has been arrested in connection with three fires at historically black churches in St. Landry Parish.
The suspect, 21-year-old Holden Matthews is the son of St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputy Roy Matthews. According to St. Landry Sherrif Bobby Guidroz, deputy Matthews brought his son to a neutral location so that officers could arrest him. Matthews was booked on three counts of simple arson of a religious building.
“It has been especially painful because it reminds us of a very dark past of intimidation and fear,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said of the fires at a news conference today. “That is why I am glad that this morning we are able to come together and announce that an arrest has been made in connection with the fires that burned the three historically African American churches here in St. Landry Parish over a 10-day span.”
Gov. Edwards went on to state that Matthews was arrested in connection with the three fires in St. Landry Parish, but not the one in Cado Parish, which appears to be unrelated.
The investigation into Matthews’ potential motivation is still ongoing. However, according to Louisiana State Fire Marshal Chief Buth Browning, Matthews was associated with Norwegian “black metal” music. In the mid-1990s, several members were arrested in Norway after a wave of church burnings there.
The Norwegian black metal scene is notoriously anti-Christian, with many of its musicians and followers claiming to be extreme theistic Satanists. The founders of the genre presented themselves as militant, with a goal of spreading sorrow, hatred, and evil throughout the world. They claimed the Church of Satan was “too humane,” and wanted to concentrate more on “being evil.”
There is also a general undercurrent of romantic nationalism associated with the black metal scene, with some members flirting with Nazi imagery. One band associated with the early days of the genre, Euronymous, has claimed that many bands “were more or less Nazis.”
The church burnings have not yet been labeled as hate crimes at this time. “Any question as to the potential motives of hate are continuing to be vetted by federal authorities, Browning stated.
“I don’t know what this young man’s motive was, or what was in his heart, but it can’t be rationalized or justified,” said Edwards. “These were evil acts. Hate has no place in Louisiana. Hate is not a Louisiana value and violence has no place in our communities.”
If you wish to support any of the churches, you can donate to the gofundme account.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.