Police investigate threat to burn a black church in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — New Hope Baptist Church is on edge after a member answered a call 11 a.m. Sunday morning as the church prepared for live services on Facebook.

“The phone call itself was made by a white male and [I would have to use graphic terms] to tell you the words — words you would have to bleep out,” said Dr. James Allen, the associate minister at New Hope Baptist Church at 395 Old Great Neck Road.

The contents of the call are disturbing. Allen said the anonymous caller said: “You [N-words] need to shut your mouth. We are going to burn the church.”

Five days earlier, members of his church and others who are part of the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference hosted a prayer vigil at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach. during the peaceful event, members called for a month-long economic boycott of businesses in Town Center and along the Oceanfront.

Allen says why his church was targeted remains unknown.

“That’s a good question. All we can say is people who hide behind anonymous phone calls — and unfortunately when you have leadership that is tweeting and hiding behind a tweet; Facebook and all those types of things — this is what you get.”

Virginia Beach Police are investigating the threat and the FBI confirms it has been made aware of the threat to burn the church.

“The reason why we are doing this publicly now is to make sure that every church and every citizen in Virginia Beach is made aware that this type of thing is still going on. We need you more than ever to open your mouth and say there’s no place in America for this type of behavior right now, ” said Allen.

FBI statistics show hate crimes against places of worship increased by nearly 35 percent between 2014 and 2018.

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