Powder mailed to N.C. church ruled harmless

A Federal Bureau of Investigation laboratory determined on Friday that the suspicious powder found in an envelope at Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, on Thursday was not a bioterrorism agent.

The substance was not anthrax and it was not considered to be a hazardous substance. According to a news release issued by Catawba County Emergency Management, the matter was a complete hoax, the Hickory Daily Record reports.

Church officials were allowed back into the building on Friday a little before 5 p.m. The church was able to hold its usual Sunday services as planned.

Providence Road Baptist Church gained national attention when Pastor Charles Worley's sermon on May 13 included a section proposing that lesbians and gays be imprisoned behind an electric fence and left to die. The sermon was posted on YouTube and led to outrage throughout the United States. The sermon prompted a May 27 protest march in Newton. More than 2,000 protestors attended the event on the city's Southwest Boulevard, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.

The night before the May 27 protest, someone set a fire at the church under an air conditioning unit. While the building did not endure any damage, the fire got hot enough to melt the air conditioning unit's wire insulation.