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Ohio Man Who Bombed Church Gets 18 Years

DOJ says attack targeting church’s drag show violated religious freedom

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A 20-year-old Ohio man who threw Molotov cocktails at a church planning to host a drag queen story hour was sentenced Monday to 18 years in prison for what’s being labeled a church arson hate crime and for using fire and explosives to commit a felony, according to the Department of Justice.

Aimenn Penny, a member of White Lives Matter, said his only regret was that his attack didn’t cause more damage to the Community Church of Chesterland, a progressive congregation that ended up hosting the drag show as planned.

“This sentence holds Mr. Penny accountable for carrying out violence against an Ohio church because he disagreed with the way congregants chose to express their beliefs,” said a DOJ press release.

“This defendant tried to burn down a church simply because its members created space for and provided support to the LGBTQ+ community…We hope this significant sentence sends a clear and resounding message that this type of hate-fueled attack against a church will not be tolerated in our country.”

Penny told an FBI agent that he welcomed an inevitable race war between whites and Blacks and that “he would have felt better if the Molotov cocktails were more effective and burned the entire church to the ground.” Penny said his fell cellmates “respected” him for the attack, which he bragged about committing.

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Before the attack, Penny, White Lives Matter comrades, and other neo-Nazis protested and distributed literature at drag shows.

As Ministry Watch reported last November, Penny was charged under the Church Arson Prevention Act, which was enacted in 1996 following an outbreak of racially motivated church burnings.

Main photo: Photo of April 1 Drag Queen Story Hour via Community Church of Chesterland

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Steve Rabey

Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.