A video of the First Congregational Church in Spencer, Massachusetts burning down is being shared with a false claim that the fire took place due to the church's pro-LGBTQIA+ stance. Some claims also state that the fire occurred when a gay marriage was happening in the church in order to further demonise the LGBTQIA+ community.
BOOM found that the claims are false, and the fire occurred due to lightning. We also spoke to Spencer Fire Chief Robert Parsons who refuted claims about a gay wedding taking place in the church and said that it was empty during the time of the fire.
The 280-year-old First Congregational Church burned down on June 2, 2023, after a fire that started in its steeple ended up destroying the entire building. According to investigators, lightning was the cause of the fire.
Captions on Twitter and Facebook mocking the church's pro-LGBTQIA+ policy and connecting it to the fire are being shared along with videos of the church burning down.
A caption on Twitter reads, "Fire gutted a church in Boston on 3rd June 2023 as two famous homosexuals were getting married. Suddenly a powerful lightning struck this church which immediately caught uncontrollable fire despite having lightning conductors. This church was famous for LGBTQ+ pride 🌈 and most gays traveled to wed there. Amazingly, no single fire 🔥 fighting truck was able to reach it to extinguish the fire before it completely vanished. Surely, heavens have had enough of gay nonsense."
BOOM found that the viral claims are false, and the fire was caused due to natural causes-- lightning.
Several local reports, including one from Boston25 News published on June 5 said that authorities determined lightning as the cause of the fire. According to CBS, the church was struck following a thunderstorm in the area on June 2.
BOOM reached out to Robert Parsons, Spencer Fire Chief, who confirmed that lightning caused the fire. Addressing the claim regarding a gay marriage taking place during the time, he said, "There were no services at the time of the fire and it (the church) was vacant at that time and locked."
As for the claim about the firefighters not making it in time to extinguish the fire, Parsons said that the first team arrived at the scene within 4 minutes of receiving calls about the fire.
However, its stance has nothing to do with the fire, Parsons clarified.
BOOM reached out to the First Congregational Church at Spencer for a comment. This article will be updated if they respond.
(An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated in the headline that the church was located in Boston. The error is regretted.)
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