NC religious leaders warn of possible attacks on churches

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- A North Carolina religious leader is warning his congregations about rumors of targeted attacks at churches.

Bishop Tim Smith of the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America shared a warning on social media over the weekend.

While emphasizing that he has not heard about any threats to North Carolina churches, “there are judicatory leaders nationwide, including at least one ELCA bishop, who have in the past 48 hours.”

The United Church of Christ sent out the first national warning.

“While we are hesitant to raise the alarm and/or overreact, recent events compel us to inform you about what we are hearing regarding possible threats that have come to our attention,” the Church posted in a statement on Twitter.

“There are reports that ‘liberal’ churches will become targets of possible attacks in the coming week, with the dates of Jan. 17 and Jan. 20 featured more prominently.”

Shelly Lynch with the FBI’s Charlotte Field Office said at this point in time they have not received “any specific and substantiated threat to the state Capitol or other government buildings, or houses of worship, etc., in our area. However we are working together with our law enforcement partners to continuously share information.”

Smith urged all members of the ELCA in North Carolina to hold remote services for the rest of January.

“Had Jan. 6th not happened, we probably wouldn’t have given it another thought,” Smith said, “but given this context we’re in we figured people should be aware.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray said agents are monitoring all incoming leads about possible protest or attacks.

“When we talk about potential threats, we are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter about a number of events surrounding the inauguration,” Wray said.

“It breaks my heart for our country,” said Smith.

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