Suspect Changes Plea to Guilty in Black Louisiana Church Burnings

Matthews changes plea to guilty, admitting disdain for the three Black Church's religious character.

Holden Matthews admitted guilt to burning three historical Black Louisiana Churches.

What We Know:

  • Last year, the court charged Holden Matthews with three counts of intentional damages to religious property. The crime went against the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996.
  • The act expressed, as Federal jurisdiction, the law constitutes such acts as hate crime relating to the damages of religious property. Any that commit such crimes are liable to face a possible 20-years in prison per count (Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996).
  • Matthews burned three historically black churches: Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church, and St. Mary Baptist Church.
  • According to a report from NBC News, Matthews also pleaded to one count of using fire to commit a felony; those that commit such acts are liable to a possible 10-years in prison.
  • Furthermore, a member of Greater Union Baptist Church, Monica Harris said, “Seeing the church in the condition it is now, it’s almost like losing a family member.” The Rev. Harry J. Richard of Greater Union said in a gathering Sunday, “They burned down a  building. They didn’t burn down our spirit.”
  • At the time, Matthews, 21, the son of a St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputy, committed arson on three churches in the span of 10 days. 
  • NAACP President said in a statement, “For decades, African-American churches have served as the epicenter of survival and a symbol of hope for many in the African-American community. As a consequence, these houses of faith have historically been the targets of violence.”
  • Finally, the U.S. Attorney said in a statement, “Matthews admitted to setting the fires because of the religious character of these buildings, in an effort to raise his profile as a ‘Black Metal’ musician by copying similar crimes committed in Norway in the 1990s.”

Additional information developing. 

Holden Matthews, St. Landry Parish Sheriff Dept.




Alldon Thompson was a Digital Intern at Black News Alerts.