I woke up this morning with the tragic news that nine people were killed last night at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston South Carolina. Among the dead, was the congregation's pastor, The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator. The shooter, who is still at large at this writing, was a white man in his early 20's who allegedly attended the Bible study for an hour prior to opening fire on his innocent victims. One survivor reported that when one of the members present tried to persuade him not to shoot, the gunman said "I have to do it. You rape our women and you are taking over our country. And you have to go." Crazy, sad and senseless. Pray for the families and the community. Blessed are those who die in the Lord...their deeds will follow them Revelation 14:13
There were 176 incidents of violence in houses of worship in 2014, with roughly 40% ending with fatalities. According to the most recent FBI statistics (2013), there were over a thousand hate crimes religiously motivated, which accounted for 17% of all hate crimes. Nearly 60% of religious crimes were directed towards the Jewish community and another 13% against Muslims.
Nearly half of all hate crimes were racially motivated with two thirds of those victims being African American. Another 11% were motivated by ethnic bias and 20% were against members of the Gay community. We have a hate problem.
We are spending billions of dollars to protect us from our external enemies. I am not naïve. There are those who have attacked our country and those who wish to. We need to protect ourselves. But we also have to own the fact that we have killed thousands of innocent people and our actions have served to radicalized many and empower the most extreme and dangerous.
But frankly, I am more concerned with the killer within. We continue to live in denial about the problems of race in this country. The libertarians and the lobbyists enable us to have gun laws closer to ISIS than the rest of the civilized world. We refuse to spend money to really address public mental health issues. Combine all of the above with certain politicians, pundits, and preachers spewing hate and ignorance and you get Charleston, Sandy Hook, and the Sikh temple in Milwaukee.
People will come together for a few days. Many in power will say the right things. Millions will pray. Maybe a few will be motivated to work for change. But by next week, most will go back to being the children of Cain (Genesis 4:9).
Or these latest martyrs could inspire us to work for change-to Love as Christ loved, to work for change, to confront the killer within in order to disarm the killer without.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King