This Just In: February 4 - 11 | This Just In | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Preaching to the Fire

Summary: A controversial Fayette County church is reduced to charred remains. Reporter: Jennifer Miele, WTAE Channel 4 Airtime: 1 minute, 53 seconds on Jan. 29 Visuals: * Miele's white Minnie Mouse gloves, which she wears while pointing to assorted debris. * A woman in a tie-dyed "body wrap" of some sort, twirling around in archival footage of a concert. Highlights: * When anchor Andrew Stockey informs us, "It is called 'The Church of Love and Music,'" and anchor Wendy Bell chimes in, "Hmm. But police have called it a haven for drugs." * When Miele describes the recent blaze: "This was certainly no easy firefight. Crews had to pull back tin from the burning structure, leaving sharp nails like this exposed. Water from their hoses froze up right away. You can see it formed dangerous patches of ice just about everywhere." * When a deputy chief firefighter gives us the obligatory winter salt report: "We had the [Bullskin] Township supervisors come up and salt the road [while] the state salted Bear Rocks Road." * When Miele offers some background on the church: "The church has been at the center of legal action with the township over its concerts. And last year, a federal judge shut them down. This is video before an August 2009 raid at the church, where 23 people were charged with drug-related offenses. The head of the controversial church, William Pritts, was not charged. He hasn't held a concert there since, but says he never thought it would be destroyed." * When Pritts laments, "It's pretty sad, you know. We put a lot of time and effort to build it from the ground. But we were moving out. We were going to close on sale of property on Monday, so I don't know if that's still going through right now or not." * When Miele reports, "The state-police fire marshal says the fire is not suspicious, but the damage is so bad, he can't determine a cause." What We Learned: Clearly, God hates love and music. Unanswered Question: According to WTAE, Pritts had previously said, "We don't condone drugs. But whenever you deal with music, you find drugs." So we should start drug-testing church choirs now? News Value: 5. Who doesn't love a fire story with a Fayette County twist? What's missing from Miele's report is a chat with a local who isn't too happy with the church. But Pritts was interviewed by The Daily Show for some of his views on religion, so I don't expect this is the last we'll be hearing of him.

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