The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating the fires, which Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre deemed to be motivated by "anti-Christian hatred."
According to the National Post, the first two churches to be torched were located in Barrhead, a small town just north of Edmonton. On December 7, St. Mary Abbots Anglican church and St. Aidan's Church were torched, and while the former burned to the ground, the latter is still structurally viable. It had been years since services were held in the historic buildings, however they were nonetheless mainstays in the tight-knit community.
The third incident took place on December 15 in Janvier, an even smaller town 120km north of Fort McMurray. The unused St. Gabriel Catholic Mission was destroyed, though its recently built replacement was not impacted.
Most recently, on December 20, a suspected arsonist levelled the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Beiseker, just northeast of Calgary.
"My thoughts are with the Seventh Day Adventist community in Beiseker, AB mourning the loss of their church at the hands of an arsonist," Poilievre wrote in a post on X. "This is the 4th church in 2 weeks to be targeted by acts of violent anti-Christian hatred."
"Images like these have no place in Alberta," Premier Danielle Smith wrote following the Barrhead fires. "To the parishioners of these churches and to the Christian community across our province, I stand in solidarity with you against all forms of hate."
"These acts are condemned in the strongest possible terms," she added, "and those perpetrating these crimes must be brought to justice. As the Global News reports, of the 15 suspicious church fires reported to police in 2023, suspects have been arrested in connection with five of them. In an interview with the outlet, RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Troy Savinkoff noted that "none of the files we've solved showed any particular affinity against the churches whatsoever," nor was there evidence of a "concerted effort" against Christian houses of worship.
In most cases, the perpetrators were either intoxicated or suffering from mental health issues.
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