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A Review of the Movie "Little Hope Was Arson"

Little Hope was Arson (2013)

directed by Theo Love

Doc Features

This documentary is about someone setting fire to churches in East Texas in 2010. In all, ten churches were burned within the period of about one month, creating fear in the community. The fire at the first church, Little Hope Baptist Church, was thought to be the result of an electrical failure until the police found this message scrawled on the bathroom wall of a hardware store: “Little Hope Was Arson.”

The movie follows the intense investigation into the church fires by a variety of law enforcement agencies, all working together. Finally, on the basis of two different kinds of shoe prints and DNA evidence, the police arrested two suspects, Jason Bourgue and Daniel McAllister. McAllister admitted to starting some of the fires with his friend, Bourgue, but Bourgue claims that he does not remember setting the fires. McAllister was close to his mother and when she died he blamed God.

Two years after his mother’s death, his father attempted suicide. Again Daniel blamed God. When he got involved with drugs and was ostracized by his family, he again blamed God. Bourgue also had problems. His mother was a drug user, leaving him to be raised by his grandmother and grandfather. Eventually he too used drugs, including a prescription medication to help him stop smoking. Jason claims when he wakes up he cannot tell if his memories are real or simply a dream.

At the end of the movie, some members of the congregations of the churches that were burned forgave the arsonists, while others did not. Some members wanted forgiveness and others wanted justice. The movie reminds us of such values as forgiveness, justice, truthfulness, repentance, love, and so on. The movie, however, does not give the viewer any definite answers regarding these values.

—  Bilal Yorulmaz

Yorulmaz, Bilal (2014) "Little Hope Was Arson," Journal of Religion & Film: Vol. 18: Iss. 1, Article 30. 
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