Jehovah’s Witness Center Set Ablaze Amid Spate of Arson Attacks

A Jehovah’s Witness worship center in Washington state burned to the ground Friday morning, marking at least the fifth arson attempt against the religious group’s places of worship in the state in the past nine months alone. The Washington Post reported Sunday that firefighters responded to the blaze at 3:42 a.m., but were too late to save the center from total collapse. The arson attempts, which began in March and have destroyed at least one other center, have puzzled investigators. The only description of a suspect comes from surveillance footage showing a person dumping gasoline along the edge of a center—and, as the Post notes, it remains unclear why anyone would want to harm a group that identifies as pacifists. Because all of the attacks occurred very early in the morning, no one has yet been injured. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee decried the attacks Friday on Twitter, writing, “The freedom to worship is a right that should be protected for every person in our country. Our thoughts are with the members of our community affected by this abhorrent act.”