Church hosting drag event firebombed with Molotov cocktail by ‘pathetic Nazis’

Community Church of Chesterland Molotov cocktail damage

Organisers of a drag event have condemned a bomb attack on an inclusive church in Ohio as an act of hate carried out by “pathetic Nazis”. 

Police were called at around 1pm on Saturday (25 March) to a report of arson at the Community Church of Chesterland, where a Drag Queen Story Time event was due to take place.

Officers found a crude, home-made Molotov cocktail bomb had hit the church, resulting in damage, along with minor scorching to the exterior. A sign had also been vandalised.

The attack came as the church planned to hold the drag event, hosted by marketing and communications company The Fairmount Group. 

‘Tour of terror’

President and chief executive of The Fairmount Group, Mallory McMaster, told PinkNews she believes the attacks aren’t specifically about drag, children or the LGBTQ+ community, but a hate group’s “attempt to mobilise their base ahead of the upcoming 2024 elections – the same base that invaded the Capitol on 6 January, 2021”. 

McMaster said: “Their tour of terror jumps from movement to movement, hoping to gain media attention when a specific topic becomes politically volatile. In this case, they chose drag because gerrymandered legislatures around the country are passing anti-drag bills at lightning speed. 

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“These vile hate groups are invading our inclusive, welcoming community expecting a warm welcome and they aren’t going to get it. 

“We’ve been working with local law enforcement agencies to ensure that they will manage the protest and we are confident in our ability to move forward with our private events. 

“My team is taking every precaution to keep our guests safe and give everyone a fun, happy day that is more memorable than the pathetic Nazis crying for attention outside.”

‘Exhausted, angry, saddened, and frustrated’

The church’s pastor, Jess Peacock, who uses they/them pronouns, posted on Facebook: “I am exhausted, angry, saddened and frustrated by the hate and ignorance that has been, quite literally, hurled at us in the form of a Molotov cocktail. 

“Hate that was (and we need to be clear about this) in no way [provoked] by us. No matter where anyone stands on the issue of drag shows and drag story hours, this kind of response is beyond the pale.” 

They went on to say that the church, situated in Geauga County, about 45 minutes from Cleveland, has received a “food of support” through emails, donations and phone calls. 

Peacock, who spoke to News 5, said they were in disbelief when they first witnessed the damage. 

“I go from anger to sadness, to disbelief to commitment because it’s not every day that you find out that someone wants to burn down your church home,” they said.

Damaged sign
The church’s sign was vandalised during the Molotov cocktail attack. (Jess Peacock/Community Church of Chesterland/Facebook)

According to the church’s website, which proudly features rainbow-coloured backgrounds, it welcomes and serves all those in need and is home to an “amazing group of supportive, friendly people”. 

There were no reported injuries from the incident and it remains under investigation. 

Last year, LGBTQ+ advocacy group GLAAD revealed a shocking number of anti-drag attacks in the US during 2022 had risen from 124 – as recorded on 22 November – to 141.

The report followed a number of bills vowing to ban or restrict public drag performances being proposed across seven states in 2022.