It seems to me that hate-filled racists know just where to find us: In church.
White supremacist Dylann Storm Roof, 21, allegedly gunned down nine people June 17 at the historically black Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The dead included the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, church pastor and a state senator.
On Sept. 15, 1963, four young girls attending Sunday school at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, died when former Ku Klux Klan members hurled a bomb from a passing car, also injuring 14 others. The riots that followed claimed the lives of two more black youngsters.
Nearly 52 years separate the two cruel incidents. The shootings at Emanuel A.M.E. brought to mind the Birmingham bombing and the young girls whose lives were snuffed out. Remembering my young days and Sunday school, I could imagine the girls were probably singing an old Sunday school song:
“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. … Red and yellow, black and white. … Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
And I can imagine that the blasting bombs silenced their singing, as concrete spilled on and around them. I remember how devastated I felt — for the victims, who would never have a chance to grow up — and for their families and loved ones. As I pondered the bombing, I worried that my two young sons (Rick was 5 at the time and Shawn was 2½), wouldn’t stand a chance growing up black in America.
But after the victims were laid to rest and the smoke from some of the riots of that decade settled, things seemed to take a turn for the better. The Civil Rights Act of 1965 passed and blacks saw a glimmer of hope for a better future.
But all was not well. Still, always lurking behind each victory that was won for blacks, was an evil that would poke up its head from time to time. It’s name is Hate. And just when you think we have driven it away with unity marches and loving-thy-neighbor- speeches, Hate lets us know that it has not been abolished.
As a Christian worshiper, weekly prayer meeting and biblical teaching is commonplace. There, we sing and pray and listen to the Word of God. At prayer time, some of us kneel and some stand or sit. I can imagine that those attending the prayer meeting at Emanuel A.M.E. were caught of guard — totally. Maybe they were singing praises to God, with heads uplifted, eyes closed. I can imagine them singing a verse or two of a favorite hymn, Amazing Grace , not watching the young white visitor who had come to join them. After all, who would expect someone to come into God’s house and kill His worshipers?
In the wake of the Charleston Shootings, I have thought much about Hate and the harm it does to those it is aimed at, as well as the individual/or individuals who harbor it.
Today, I will say a prayer for the survivors. I will also be thinking about Dylann Roof, a fresh-faced young white man who had the opportunity to be anything he wanted. After all, he is a white man. So even today, in an integrated America, doors would be open to him that would not be opened to his counterparts of other races and /or ethnic groups, blacks in particular.
Yet, the young man chose another route — he chose to hate instead. And that hatred which probably was taught to him from the cradle, bubbled up and spilled over last Wednesday night in a place where love is taught.
I am also wondering if his parents have taken any responsibility for their son’s actions, whether they have gone over in their minds the values they taught their son from babyhood.
And I am wondering: Did Roof’s parents teach him how to love? Did they teach him to treat others as he wants to be treated? Did they even love him?
I supposed they loved him as much as they could. After all, Roof’s 21st-birthday gift was a gun from his dad. It seems to me that love in the language of a racist can be spelled two ways: G-U-N and K-I-L-L.
Sunshine A Capella Choir
The Sunshine A Cappella Choir invites the community to an evening of “musical worship and fellowship” at its sixth annual choir concert.
The concert will be 7 p.m. Saturday at Tenth Tabernacle Church, 2298 NW 62nd St. in Liberty City, and will also feature The Sunshine Melody Makers and Karma.
The concert is free, but donations will be accepted. Refreshments and CDs will be on sale during the intermission. Elder Samuel J. Eaves II is pastor of the church. Call 786-477-7723 for more information or email email@example.com.
The Sistah-To-Sistah Connection holds meeting entitled “Experiencing Total Wholeness” from 10 a.m. to noon on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.
The meetings are led by Evangelist Gigi Rolle-Holloway, who said: “God has pressed upon my heart to minister hope and healing to women who are carrying emotional baggage. Through the power of forgiveness, women are packing up their emotional baggage and shipping it out.”
Rolle-Holloway said that in past meetings women have released the pain of their past and are being “delivered and set free, and are making their peace with God, themselves and with others.”
The group meets at Parkway Professional Building, 6151 Miramar Pkwy., Suite 204.
For more information, call 954-430-0544.
Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.