Following a string of tragic church bombings allegedly carried out by an Islamic militant group in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, Fox & Friends began fearmongering about a “holy war” against Christians and lamenting the “desecration of religious sites” and threats to sites of worship leading people not to feel safe. But, notably, the program virtually ignored a recent series of church fires in Louisiana that affected historically Black churches.
On April 21, the world woke up to news that suicide attacks in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed over 290 people. Fox & Friends reacted by fearmongering about radical Islamic terrorism, with guest co-host Pete Hegseth calling the attack “straight out of the Al Qaeda/ISIS playbook.” The co-hosts also played a clip of former Navy intelligence officer Don Bramer saying that “it is terror, and these are extremists that will continue to strike unless we do something.” Co-host Steve Doocy claimed that “it is literally a holy war.”
Fox & Friends' focus on the threat to Christians by Islamic militants was a striking contrast to their coverage of three recent attacks on churches in the U.S. From March 26 to April 4, three historically Black churches were burned down in Louisiana as part of an allegedly racist attack by a white man. The suspect, Holden Matthews, is the son of a sheriff’s deputy and was charged with hate crimes, in addition to three charges of arson. Even though this attack occurred in the United States, the three Fox & Friends co-hosts have spent no time discussing the fires -- the only mention was a headline segment that didn’t feature any co-hosts and lasted only 20 seconds.
From the April 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
PETE HEGSETH (GUEST CO-HOST): All the signs are there. Listen, it’s Easter, it’s prominent churches, it’s seven suicide bombers. This is straight out of the Al Qaeda/ISIS playbook. And this group, NGT are the initials they go by, local radical Muslim group, but they have been linked to desecration of Buddhist sites, it’s a majority of Buddhist country, and their aim, the goal of this group, is to spread the global Islamist movement to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has seen a lot of violence, but it was about political violence within the country. You’ve got Indonesia, big Muslim countries in the neighborhood. They’re hoping to spread the same goal of Al Qaeda and ISIS in Sri Lanka and they targeted Christian churches on Easter. …
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): It sounds like they were mainly suicide bombers. They convinced themselves this is what they were going to be doing. Don Bramer, a former intel officer and Iraq veteran, says even though ISIS has been disbanded, we still have to pay attention.
DON BRAMER: As ISIS has disbanded across the globe, all of us need to stay alert. We need to understand that these type of targets, whether it's shopping centers, whether it’s places we worship, our faith is going to continue to be tested here. It is terror, and these are extremists that will continue to strike unless we do something.
HEGSETH: This hasn't stopped, isn’t stopping, you’re seeing desecration of religious sites and attacks in Europe. You’ve seen it in the Middle East, Christian churches, Christians, Jews targeted directly, and it’s radical islamists. You got to get at the ideology and then you got to find them and get rid of them too.
JEDEDIAH BILA (CO-HOST): And to do something in this country as well, you know there’s amped up security happening around worship centers. This is the most terrifying thing to me because a worship center is a place people go for peace, to find what they consider the most safety. The most security. So when these areas are threatened, I think people become most alarmed, most terrifying. So we have to figure out a way as not only a country but as a world to kind of come together and address these attacks to prevent them as much as we possibly can.
DOOCY: It is literally a holy war.