Society

Church Owned By White Supremacist Burns Down

| by Michael Doherty

A fire has destroyed a North Dakota church owned by white supremacist Craig Cobb.

Police are investigating the fire after receiving reports about the blaze on March 22. By the time firefighters arrived at the church, it was too late to save it, according to CNN.

"It was pretty much engulfed when the guys got here," said Nome Fire Department Chief Randy Nagle.

The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined. No one was reportedly inside of the church when the fire broke out, and no injuries have been reported.

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Cobb is reported to have recently purchased the Zion Lutheran Church, which was located in Nome, North Dakota. Cobb made headlines in 2011 when he began buying properties in Leith, North Dakota to try and turn the town into a haven for white supremacists.

The 61-year-old white supremacist leader reportedly led vigilante patrols of Leith and threatened residents of the town, according to CBS. Cobb later pleaded guilty to felony terrorizing; the court eventually ordered Cobb to leave Leith, telling that he could live anywhere in North Dakota except for the town.

A resident of Nome said that no one in the town was happy about Cobb's decision to move to Nome "after that deal in Leith." It is unclear whether Cobb had been living in the church or not.

Cobb is one of America's most well-known white supremacists, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, CNN reports. Cobb said that he had envisioned Leith as a place where white nationalist banners would be flown, where white culture would be celebrated, and where minority groups would not be welcome.

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Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center said that Cobb believes that white people should be separated from other races of people.

"He's also an anti-Semite, a raging anti-Semite," said Beirich. "And he's a member of the Creativity religion, which is a religion that literally worships the Aryan man instead of God."

White nationalist online message boards such as Stormfront have reportedly applauded Cobb for "doing a great job."

Jill Pederson, a resident who took photos of the church as it was burning down, said that she had gone to the church while growing up in Nome.

"My mom would clean it every week and I would tag along to get up there and pretend to preach to an invisible crowd," Pederson said. "In a small community you are all family and that church kept everyone connected in some way and that is what will be missed the most."

Sources: CNN (2), UPI, CBS / Photo Credit: KXMB via CBS

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