Jun 18, 2015

Clementa Pinckney on Mother Emanuel church

The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, speaking of the historical importance of the South Carolina church he served as pastor, Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal:

Pinckney was murdered Wednesday during a prayer meeting along with eight members of his congregation. 

The mass shooting appears to be an act of racial terrorism.

This church has long been offensive to white supremacists. It has long served as a site of refuge from and resistance to racist rule.

As the Washington Post reports
This historic congregation, the oldest of its kind in the South, had already seen more than its fair share of tumult and hate. It was founded by worshipers fleeing racism and burned to the ground for its connection with a thwarted slave revolt. For years its meetings were conducted in secret to evade laws that banned all-black services. It was jolted by an earthquake in 1886. Civil rights luminaries spoke from its pulpit and led marches from its steps. For nearly two hundred years it had been the site of struggle, resistance and change.
One piety, commonly expressed in times of tragedy, is that such violence is beyond comprehension. There is always the danger, however, that it is beyond comprehension only because it's easier not to comprehend.

Shock is sometimes a form of denial.

In this case, the violence comes in a context. It follows a long history. Violence against black churches is not new in America; violence against this specific church isn't new either.

"Many are shocked at not only the grisly nature of the shooting, but also its location," writes Benjamin Park for The Junto. "Yet this experience is unfortunately, and infuriatingly, far from new: while black churches have long been seen as a powerful symbol of African American community, they have also served as a flashpoint for hatred from those who fear black solidarity, and as a result these edifices have been the location for many of our nation’s most egregious racial terrorist acts."

As Jamil Smith puts it in The Atlantic, "The black church hasn't been safe since there has been a black church."

Whoever has ears to hear, Jesus said.