After Notre Dame Fire, a Call to 'Send Love' to Louisiana

$1.1M raised to rebuild black churches gutted by arson
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2019 10:45 AM CDT
Firefighters respond to a fire at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas, La., on April 4, 2019.   (Leslie Westbrook/The Advocate via AP, File)
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(Newser) – Less than 24 hours elapsed between President Macron's call for donations to rebuild Notre Dame and nearly $1 billion being pledged, reports Time. In comparison, a nearly week-old campaign seeking funds to rebuild three historically black churches destroyed by arson in Louisiana within the last month had raised only $93,000 as of Tuesday morning, reports the New York Times. A day later, that number has skyrocketed to more than $1.1 million thanks to social media promotion from journalists, pro athletes, and politicians, including Hillary Clinton, reports the Hill. "As we hold Paris in our thoughts today, let's also send some love to our neighbors in Louisiana," Clinton tweeted alongside a link to the GoFundMe campaign from the Seventh District Baptist Association, which includes the three Baptist churches gutted in fires on March 26, April 2, and April 4.

More than 21,000 people have donated as of this writing, with funds to be split evenly among the churches in St. Landry Parish, each more than 100 years old. "It's a total, complete loss at all three sites," association president Freddie Jack tells the Times. Mount Pleasant Baptist in Opelousas fared best, but at St. Mary Baptist in Port Barre and Opelousas' Greater Union Baptist Church—which had taken out a mortgage to cover a recent renovation—"all you see is charcoal." The fund seeks $1.8 million total; Jack notes insurance coverage is limited and strict building codes have been put in place since Hurricane Katrina. The money raised so far is "a blessing," Rev. Gerald Toussaint of Mount Pleasant Baptist tells CNN. "What the devil meant for bad, God's going to turn it into something good." (The son of a deputy sheriff is charged.)

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