A church in Seattle belonging to the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) was the victim of a possible hate crime on October 18, 2018, as homemade Molotov cocktails were thrown at the church, causing a fire during a church service attended by over 250 people.
According to a statement by the Seattle Police Department, “witnesses began calling 911 just after 8 p.m. Thursday to report a fire at a church in the 7100 block of 42 Avenue South. The Seattle Fire Department responded to the scene and arrived after the fire had already been extinguished.”
While no one was injured, Seattle police last October 23 arrested a man in his 30s, after police released surveillance photos of a man believed to have thrown Molotov cocktails at the church while services were ongoing.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is assisting Seattle police in the investigation and is evaluating evidence to determine whether the incident was a hate crime. A spokesperson for the FBI stressed that they “will review the evidence to evaluate whether any federal violations occurred, including hate crimes.”
The INC has more than 3,000 churches worldwide. The first INC church in the US was established in Hawaii 50 years ago, and since then it has steadily expanded, establishing itself in North America as well as in many parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
The homegrown church announced that twenty-two new chapels have been dedicated in the continental US and Canada for July, August, September this year. Its activities abroad include the “Lingap saMamamayan,” the INC’s local and international outreach program. It recently conducted several outreach activities for migrants, religious minorities, elderly and the youth in various locations in Toronto and Winnipeg in Canada, realizing a longtime goal of INC Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo to “positively reach out and extend blessings to those in need in the Northern part of the American continent.”
The attack in Seattle is one of a number of incidents that the INC has suffered.
In Canada, the church has endured online attacks from expelled former member Lowell Menorca II.
Menorca, who is now based in the Metro Vancouver area, is working with another former expelled member Rovic Canono, also living the region, to vilify the church.
Going back to the Seattle incident, the arrested suspect has made his first court appearance.
A judge found probable cause to hold the suspect on investigation of first-degree arson and attempted first-degree assault, according to King County prosecutors.