FBI investigating explosion, graffiti at California church known for anti-LGBT views

The pastor of the First Works Baptist Church has drawn condemnation.January 24, 2021, 4:18 AM – 7 minutes readThe FBI and regional authorities are examining an explosion and vandalism at a church in Southern California understood 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 in the early morning hours Saturday, according to the FBI. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, labeled First Works Baptist Church a hate group in 2019 for its anti-LGBT stance.An online petition calling for the mayor of El Monte to require the First Works Baptist Church out of the city has actually gathered over 15,000 signatures.In reports and on social media, Mejia strongly opposes gay marital relationship.”El Monte Police Chief David Reynoso, left, with another officer stand outside the First Works Baptist Church tagged with graffiti, after a surge in El Monte, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona wrote on Twitter, “This early mornings incident involving the First Works Baptist Church is highly worrying to me and all of us in our terrific City of El Monte.

The pastor of the First Works Baptist Church has drawn condemnation.January 24, 2021, 4:18 AM – 7 min readThe FBI and regional authorities are examining an explosion and vandalism at a church in Southern California known 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 in the morning hours Saturday, according to the FBI. When reacting to the scene simply after 1 a.m. local time there was smoke coming out of the windows and the beyond the church was covered with graffiti, the Los Angeles County Fire Department stated.”It appeared that the walls to the church had been vandalized in addition to all the windows,” El Monte cops Lt. Christopher Cano told reporters Saturday.” [The windows] appeared in the beginning to be smashed, then we understood that the windows were not smashed, that they had in fact blown out from some kind of explosion.”The FBI described the surge as an “IED attack” and stated bomb service technicians were on the scene investigating.No one was hurt in the blast, cops said.The First Works Baptist Church and its pastor, Bruce Mejia, has actually established a track record for inflammatory language, labeled by many as hate speech. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, identified First Works Baptist Church a hate group in 2019 for its anti-LGBT stance.An online petition requiring the mayor of El Monte to force the First Works Baptist Church out of the city has actually garnered over 15,000 signatures.In reports and on social media, Mejia strongly opposes gay marital relationship. He likewise has used his social networks accounts to consistently mock President Joe Biden and is strongly opposed to vaccinations, regularly sharing memes dismissing the COVID-19 vaccine.El Monte Police Chief David Reynoso, left, takes images of graffiti on the side wall of the First Works Baptist Church, after an explosion in El Monte, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. In remarks to The New York Times after the blast, Mejia said, “Its not going to really discourage us from doing what we always do.””Were not scared of this. Its simply a little bump in the roadway, and were still planning to have church tomorrow, undoubtedly not at this current area, however were still preparing to have church and as soon as this is all said and done, were going to return,” he added.Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who represents the district where the explosion happened, stated in a statement that “violence is never the response, even in reaction to dislike speech.””Although we do not yet understand the intention, am I knowledgeable about the anti-LGBTQ+ and misogynistic preachings offered by the pastor of the First Works Baptist Church; and my office has referred concerning matters pertaining to the pastor to the Countys Human Rights Commission, who has actually been working in cooperation with the City of El Monte to deescalate the situation.””I value inclusivity, equality, and diversity. I also support the right to in harmony oppose; nevertheless, this attack is wrong and it threatens,” Solis added. “I prompt city leaders, church leaders, and civic leaders to come together and collaborate to resolve hate issues in our community.”El Monte Police Chief David Reynoso, left, with another officer stand outside the First Works Baptist Church tagged with graffiti, after an explosion in El Monte, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. El Monte Mayor Jessica Ancona composed on Twitter, “This mornings event including the First Works Baptist Church is extremely worrying to me and all people in our great City of El Monte. I am calling for a complete and thorough investigation to occur by all the essential companies and entities such as the FBI, LA County Sheriffs, LA County Fire, El Monte PD, including the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. As your mayor, I will always guarantee that the City of El Monte continues to be an example for civility, respect, and addition of all individuals across the country.”A demonstration set up to take place outside the church on Sunday was canceled, according to the organizers, Keep El Monte Friendly, who wrote on social media they “would never promote, excuse any violence or motivate or acts of damage.””We kindly encourage everybody to not engage with violence and to not fight hate with hate,” the group composed in a second message on Facebook late Saturday. “Again, Keep El Monte Friendly was created to join the neighborhood and create a safe area for all. We will continue to progressively overcome this struggle through peace.”The FBI asked for anyone with details on the surge to call 310-477-6565.

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