Response: City focused on protecting lives
As a result of a worldwide pandemic completely out of our control, the City of Holly Springs took a position entirely focused on doing the right thing and saving lives while protecting everyone in our community, including the members and friends of First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs.
The City of Holly Springs achieved nearly 100 percent collaboration pertaining to the city’s Safer At Home order from all churches in our community. They cooperated not because they felt the city was challenging their constitutional right to freedom of religion, but because they understood the need to do whatever humanly possible to save lives while protecting the membership of their congregations. I want to pause here and thank those churches and all other businesses and agencies for working with us to protect our community.
At no point was the City of Holly Springs attempting to restrict churches from worship. This false narrative perpetrated by a limited few including the appeals court judge who attempted to connect the burning of (First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs) to the City of Holly Springs Safer At Home order and the lawsuit filed is extremely irresponsible. No city would reach so low as to turn a legitimate effort to protect and save lives into a deliberate act to destroy a house of worship. For any judge to intentionally mischaracterize the City of Holly Springs as being unsympathetic, or worse, somehow encouraging such an act of destruction and violence is conduct beneath the position of an appellate court judge.
The fact is as mayor on behalf of our entire administration, we would like nothing more than for the federal investigation into the arson to reveal whoever is responsible for burning the church to the ground. The sooner they are brought to justice the better.
Turning the COVID-19 pandemic into a political or ideological war of us against them is the most gross display of divisive rhetoric I have ever witnessed. Let me be clear, the City of Holly Springs has never been against any church. Our record of working in unity with and seeking the advice from many churches and the ecumenical leadership of this community is a matter of record. Churches and their congregants have always been a vital part of Holly Springs, essential to the fabric, strength and perseverance of our beloved community.
I am an American who actually served this country as a United States Marine for 12 years and was called to active duty during Operation Desert Storm. I understand fully what Memorial Day means to this country and the freedoms many of my fellow servicemen and servicewomen gave their lives for. May God bless the City of Holly Springs and continue to bless the United States of America.
Kelvin O. Buck,
Mayor of the City of Holly Springs