Crowdfund campaign to aid historically black churches hit by fires raises over $1M
© Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal

A crowdfunding campaign to help support a group of historically black churches in Louisiana affected by a string of fires has raised more than $1.4 million in about a week. 


The campaign, which was launched on GoFundMe by the Seventh District Baptist Association, a nonprofit religious organization, experienced a dramatic increase in donations over the past couple days after several prominent figures shared links to the cause on social media. 

The surge came as many noted that recovery efforts were already underway in wake of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris this week, while the church communities in Louisiana were still recovering from recent fires.

Yashar Ali, who has written for HuffPost and New York magazine, wrote in a tweet early Tuesday that "the rebuild of Notre Dame will be well funded," while adding that the Louisiana churches "need your help."

The comments led to a raft of exposure from celebrities and journalists. CNN host Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperCNN Pelosi town hall finishes third in cable news ratings race, draws 1.6M Defense secretary fires Navy chief over SEAL war crimes case Democrats look to next steps in impeachment MORE, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, comedian Seth Meyers and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWill the Horowitz report split the baby? Gabbard commemorates John Lennon's passing by singing 'Imagine' Bannon: Clinton waiting to enter 2020 race and 'save the Democratic Party from Michael Bloomberg' MORE all shared links to the campaign. 

The campaign had received donations from more than 26,500 people as of Wednesday afternoon. More than $1 million was raised in the past two days. 

"As we hold Paris in our thoughts today, let’s also send some love to our neighbors in Louisiana," Clinton tweeted Tuesday. "Three historically black churches have burned in recent weeks, charring buildings and scattering communities."

The Seventh District Baptist Association, which includes the churches affected by the recent fires, said on the campaign's website that it was working with the Louisiana governor, elected officials, the impacted churches and their pastors, other faith organizations and the community "to ensure 100% of all funds raised will be evenly distributed to the three churches affected."

"It's a blessing, truly a blessing," the Rev. Freddie Jack, president of the Seventh District Missionary Baptist Association, told The Associated Press when speaking about the fundraising campaign. The three churches are members of the association.

The effort comes just weeks after police say a man set fire to three historically black Baptist churches in the St. Landry Parish near Baton Rouge. The fires occurred within 10 days of each other. 

Each of the churches was more than 100 years old and they were vacant at the time of the fires.

Holden Matthews, the son of a St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputy, was arrested last week in connection to the fires. He was charged with hate crimes on Monday, The Associated Press reported

He's also facing two counts of simple arson of a religious building and one count of aggravated arson of a religious building due to the “immediate danger” to residents of a home 15 feet from the Greater Union Baptist Church. Matthews, 21, has pleaded not guilty. 

State District Judge James Doherty has denied bail for Matthews and has set a September trial date.