On the morning of January 23rd, a crudely designed explosive was detonated inside the First Works Baptist Church (FWBC) in El Monte, California. Investigators should have many possible suspects for this attack, primarily due to widespread outrage in the community over the bigoted preacher who runs the church.
Mejia’s sermons spread irrational attacks against various groups and activities. For example, here is part of Mejia’s hate speech degrading children who celebrate Halloween, even to the point of calling little girls in princess costumes whores:
“We as Christians, when this stuff comes around, we need to be the ones who are casting down that imagination and say, ‘Sorry to crash the party, Christians. But your trunk-or-treat is wicked.’”
Mejia continued addressing his church, “Sorry to, you know, crash the party on this whole fun you’re having here, I know you already bought your Frozen costume, but trick-or-treating… is wicked as hell, and you’re worshipping Satan actually, and your daughter is dressed like a whore, because that girl in Frozen is a whore. Sorry to crash the party on you about that. She’s not a princess. She’s a whore.”
Recent LGBTQ protests targeting the FWBC and its pastor resulted from Mejia’s hostile stance against the LGBTQ community. The pastor filed a police report after reading threats of arson on his social media.
His hateful rhetoric made FWBC a frequent target of community protests, with more than 15,000 people petitioning El Monte’s mayor to denounce the church and label it a hate group, saying, “take them out of our city.”
He also claimed LGBTQ stood for “Let God Burn Them Quickly” and said preaching against gay people isn’t enough because they deserve execution.
He preached, “We believe they should be put to death. They should die! And I will never grieve over a sodomite that is killed, or that is put to death, or any other way that they die. I will never grieve for that. In fact, I will rejoice over that.”
A FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles, Laura Eimiller, said they have not yet detained any suspects. She said the investigation would require more time. “We have not ruled anything out,” she said.
But the group behind the protests, Keep El Monte Friendly, has distanced itself from the attack and reiterated that it does not condone violence.
“We are in profound shock and hope that no one was hurt during this tragedy.” the group said in a statement posted to Instagram. “Our movement was intended to bring light and awareness to the hateful rhetoric taught by this group. We understand that what they preach can make people upset. However, we would never promote, encourage or condone any violence or acts of harm.”
Meanwhile, FWBC’s pastor is already considering himself a martyr. He held service outdoors this past Sunday morning. Interestingly, the title of his sermon was “The Blessings of Persecution.”