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St. Louis religious leaders call for fires to stop, forgive church arsonist

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - St. Louis religious leaders are uniting as one in an effort to stop the attacks on area churches.  Six places of worship have been burned by an arsonist over the last two weeks. They are speaking with one voice when they say the church fires must stop.

Young people and religious leaders standing in solidarity, condemning attacks on churches

Rev. Roderick Burton with New Northside Baptist Church said, “We won't tolerate it. We’re not for it and we're putting out a message that we want it to stop.”

Six African American churches have been set on fire by an arsonist within the last few days.

The acts of violence have touched the hearts of senior outreach specialists with Better Family Life, who go door-to-door in the community telling residents about available programs. They can offer help for people who are mentally and spiritually broken, which is what religious leaders believe is the case with the arsonist. They made it clear they forgive whoever is responsible for setting the fires, but want them to stop.

In statements Tuesday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster condemned the recent church fires in north St. Louis City and County.

Nixon said, “These cowardly acts of violence against places of worship are deeply troubling. Houses of worship must be safe havens where people can come together in faith and fellowship – not the targets of hate and violence. The Missouri State Highway Patrol has been in contact with local and federal authorities and is ready to assist in the investigation of these crimes.”

Koster said, “A house of worship should be a place of peace and refuge. These targeted acts of arson strike at the heart of St. Louis by attacking its sanctuaries. The perpetrators must be found and brought to justice.”

St. Louis CrimeStoppers is offering a $2,000 reward to find the arson suspect or suspects.  Executive Director Jeff Roorda of the St. Louis Police Officer's Association has matched that offer.  The total to find the suspects is $4,000.

Please call CrimeStoppers if you have any information in this case:  1-866-371-TIPS (8477) or http://stlrcs.org/

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