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Donations to rebuild Louisiana churches surge after Paris fire

By
Clyde Hughes

April 17 (UPI) -- The fire that devastated Paris' historic Notre Dame Cathedral has led to a surge in donations to rebuild three historically black Louisiana churches that burned down last month.

Donors have given more than $750,000 to rebuild the churches in St. Landry Parish after the campaign was shared widely across social media on Tuesday. Many pointed to hundreds of millions that have already been pledged to rebuild the French cathedral while funds for the Louisiana churches were in short supply.

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The GoFundMe campaign, created by the Seventh District Baptist Association, had raised about $92,000 early Tuesday before a large spike in contributions.

"The rebuild of Notre Dame will be well-funded," journalist Yashar Ali tweeted of the Louisiana church fundraising efforts. "Three historically black churches in Louisiana were destroyed ... These churches need your help."

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The effort even got the attention of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"As we hold Paris in our thoughts today, let's also send some love to our neighbors in Louisiana," Clinton tweeted. "Three historically black churches have burned in recent weeks, charring buildings and scattering communities."

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Contributors included political commentator Ben Shapiro and actresses Kristin Davis and Busy Phillips.

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"In honor of Notre Dame," donor Mary Seelbach attached to her donation Wednesday.

"Our black churches are as important as Notre Dame," another wrote.

By early Wednesday, the total had reached $997,000 of its goal of $1.8 million.

Holden Matthews, the man suspected of starting the fires, faces multiple charges in the case -- including three hate crime counts. Matthews, the 21-year-old son of a local sheriff's deputy, is also charged with simple and aggravated arson of a religious building.

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