Last night nine Christians were massacred while at Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. The dead include state Sen. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, senior pastor and state senator, and his sister.
The suspect, Dylann Roof, is 21 years old. He sat for an hour with the pastor and others gathered for Wednesday night Bible study, then open fired. Reportedly, he reloaded as many as five times while church members tried to talk him down. He said he "had to do it." This was a racialized hate crime.
This video below explains the history of this Christian community--a church that has stood for freedom, justice, and a radical living out of the gospel for more than 200 years. It is a spiritual lighthouse and thus a spiritual target. This attack, while it may have been the responsibility of one disturbed young white man, is all of our responsibility. This was one young white man who was absorbing the racist fear instilled him him by extremists who use a false faith as a cover for hatred. It is not the case of "one bad apple" and don't let the media spin it that way.
In the narrative of white supremacy in the U.S., assassination of "Mother Emmanuel" takes on huge spiritual and social significance. At Sojourners' The Summit last night I heard civil rights leader C.T. Vivian say, "The violence comes and goes, but the victory is ours, the victory is already won."
As we look at the bodies of our loved ones, our sisters and brothers, borne forth from the body of their Mother, we say, though our throats are choked with anger and our tears flow in grief: The victory is won.
Here are some key news stories:
Who Is Denmark Vesey? Charleston Church Founder Was A Slave Rebellion Leader, African-American Hero (International Business Times)
Rose Marie Berger is Senior Associate Editor for Sojourners magazine.
Photo: Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. Photo by Henry de Saussere Copeland / Flickr.com