UU congregation in Texas firebombed

The Community Unitarian Universalist Church of Plano, Texas, posted the following statement on its Facebook page on July 23 (a similar statement appears on its website):

“Firebomb Attack on July 23, 2023 at Community Unitarian Universalist Church of Plano

“On Sunday, July 23, 2023, between 12:00 am and 12:30 am, a firebomb attack took place at Community Unitarian Universalist Church of Plano. An incendiary device with a chemical accelerant was thrown or placed at the front doors of the main church building. The fire and smoke caused the monitored fire alarm system for the building to go off, which notified church personnel. The City of Plano 911 system received a call from a passerby who saw the fire at the same time. City of Plano Firefighters arrived on the scene and were able to extinguish the fire. Because of the quick action of Plano’s First Responders, the damage to the church property was limited to the front doors, the materials directly outside the front doors, and the entrance foyer. There were no injuries. Plano Police and Fire Department personnel did a thorough collection of evidence of the crime scene. They also interviewed multiple church personnel who arrived on-site to assess the incident. 

“Church officials have been reviewing building security and working with the Plano Police Department since the intrusion of a hate group in the church building during and after Worship Service on Sunday, June 25. That group has posted video of their activities inside the church on various social media sites.

“The church community asks for your support and prayers at this time as we deal with the impact of this incident. Thank you and blessings.”

The “hate group” mentioned in the press release consisted of Bo Alford and Cassady Campbell, both right-wing YouTubers, and and unidentified person. On July 27, NBC News reported that the men were engaged in making a video for Alford’s YouTube channel:

“Alford’s video, titled ‘We acted LGBT at LGBT Church,’ [was] uploaded to YouTube on July 12. In the video, Alford, fellow YouTuber Cassady Campbell and another man film themselves visiting the Plano church. They ask the congregation about their beliefs while in their words, ‘pretending to be LGBTQ’ with the goal of ‘testing’ the church’s theology and exposing ‘false teachers.’ At the end of the video, which has been viewed more than 200,000 times, the men stand by the church sign and ask viewers to ‘pray for these people,’ calling the church ‘pagan and satanic.'”

On July 28, USA Today reported that Alford had removed the video from YouTube. The original NBC story had a statement from Alford saying in part, “First and foremost, my prayers go out to anyone effected [sic] by the fire. As to the accusations, My [sic] channel spreads the message of Jesus and his love for us. If you watch the video you will see the members of the church having nothing but nice things to say about us. She enjoyed our conversation and even ended it with a hug. The fact we are being labeled as a hate group and being tied to this fire in any way is appalling.” Well, actually what’s appalling is that this silly young man somehow justifies his lies about his sexual orientation, and his lies about why he visited the church, just because a kind woman gave him a hug. And now his foolish thoughtlessness will be perceived by many people as being representative of all Christians; his actions are part of the reason why so many people are leaving Christianity these days. (Please do us all a favor and don’t go search for his YouTube account; if he gets lots of views from this little escapade, it’ll make him want to do it again.)

Back to the Community UU Church of Plano. It looks like their building did not experience much in the way of physical damage, fortunately. And according to their Facebook page, they continue to hold worship services. All best wishes to them, and may they thrive and continue to provide an oasis of love in Plano.

Natural dyes: pine cones

Carol and I are still investigating natural dyes. At the moment, we’re looking for dyes that (a) we can use with kids, (b) will work well for tie-dyeing cotton t-shirts, (c) are in season right now and can be easily collected by kids, and finally (d) are plentiful (i.e., we’re not going to collect endangered lichens to use as dyestuffs).

It looks like the most promising dyestuff for our purposes is going to be pine cones. They’re in season and plentiful, readily available, produce a pleasing pinkish-brown color, and I found someone who did tie-dye with them.

Carol and I went and collected some pine cones today (on land where we had permission to collect). The recipe for the dye bath says to soak the pine cones for 48 hours (see the recipe below); I’ve got some pine cones soaking now. But because I’m impatient, I also boiled some for a couple of hours this evening, even though this will probably produce a dye bath that makes a less intense color.

Stay tuned for updates on our natural dyeing experiment.

Update, 12 Sept: Follow up post here.

Update, 8 Aug.: I followed the recipe below fairly closely. The cloth emerged from the dyebath a pleasing light tan-yellow color. But nearly all the color came out in the first washing, so that now we have a very light tan-yellow. N.B.: In her book Craft of the Dyer: Colour from Plants and Lichens (Univ. of Toronto, 1980), Karen Leigh Casselman says she got a “warm tan” color from pine cones with “good colorfastness,” but she used alum and chrome mordant; I suspect, too, that she used this dyestuff with wool, not cotton.

We were not encouraged with our experience using pine cones for dyeing cotton. It’s too bad, because where live it’s easy to find plenty of pine cones. We probably would have gotten better results with a chrome mordant, but we don’t want to use chrome with kids because of the toxicity.

A pot containing pine cones in water, simmering on a stoe top.
The simmering dye bath
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