Category : Race/Race Relations

For Her Feast day–(The Conversation) Faith made Harriet Tubman fearless as she rescued slaves

Millions of people voted in an online poll in 2015 to have the face of Harriet Tubman on the US$20 bill. But many might not have known the story of her life as chronicled in a recent film, “Harriet.”

Harriet Tubman worked as a slave, spy and eventually as an abolitionist. What I find most fascinating, as a historian of American slavery, is how belief in God helped Tubman remain fearless, even when she came face to face with many challenges.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(CT) The Radical Christian Faith of Frederick Douglass (for his Feast Day)

Douglass rejoiced in 1865 when the Union triumphed in the Civil War and the nation ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery forever. But he did not believe his prophetic work had ended. At the end of his life, equality under the law remained an aspiration, not a reality. African Americans and women were denied the right to vote. The ghost of slavery lived on in oppressive economic arrangements like sharecropping. Jim Crow carved rigid lines of racial segregation in the public square. White mobs lynched at least 200 black men each year in the 1890s.

He had good reason, then, in 1889, to mourn how the “malignant prejudice of race” still “poisoned the fountains of justice, and defiled the altars of religion” in America. Yet Douglass also rejoiced in the continued possibility of redemption. A new way of seeing the world, and living in it, still remained—one that rested, Douglass said, on a “broad foundation laid by the Bible itself, that God has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Church of England General Synod apologises to Windrush generation for C of E racism

The Church of England is still “deeply institutionally racist”, the Archbishop of Canterbury told the General Synod on Tuesday.

During a debate on the Empire Windrush legacy (Features, 29 June 2018), Archbishop Welby said: “Personally, I am sorry and ashamed. I’m ashamed of our history, and I’m ashamed of our failure. I’m ashamed of our lack of witness to Christ. I’m ashamed at my lack of urgent voice to the Church. . . It is shaming as well as shocking.”

The debate was triggered by a private member’s motion tabled by the Revd Andrew Moughtin-Mumby (Southwark) which called for the Synod to “lament, on behalf of Christ’s Church, the conscious and unconscious racism experienced by countless BAME Anglicans in 1948 and subsequent years”, and to “stamp out all forms of conscious or unconscious racism”.

The motion — subsequently amended to add an apology to the lament, and to commission further research — was carried unanimously.

In his introduction to the debate, Mr Moughtin-Mumby, a priest of British-Jamaican heritage, said that he did not have a personal connection to the Windrush generation; but he was raising the motion as “a matter of simple Christian solidarity with a group of people who have fallen victim to the injustice of discrimination at the hands of our Government and our Church”.

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Prison/Prison Ministry, Race/Race Relations

Richard John Neuhaus: Remembering, and Misremembering, Martin Luther King Jr.

As Abernathy tells it—and I believe he is right—he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.

“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama—in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: I Have a Dream

You can find the full text here.

I find it always is really worth the time to listen to and read and ponder it all on this day–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Language, Race/Race Relations

(Local Paper) Senator posts racist email from a constituent to show bigotry is ‘alive and well’ in South Carolina

A routine campaign email turned into a teaching moment on race for a South Carolina senator.

Columbia Democrat Mia McLeod posted on social media a screenshot of a constituent’s email that referred to her by using a racial epithet and expletive. The constituent was responding to her “save the date” invitation to a Jan. 28 fundraiser.

“I was a bit taken aback, but not totally shocked,” McLeod, who is black, told The Post and Courier on Wednesday….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Race/Race Relations, State Government

(HLT) Bryan Stevenson –Bringing Slavery’s Legacy to Light, One Story at a Time

Last January, Johnson and his family stood with Stevenson where it happened. Beside them was Oprah Winfrey with a camera crew, filming for a “60 Minutes” segment. Stevenson said a few words in Wes’ honor, then handed a small shovel to Johnson to dig the soil that would make its way to the Legacy Museum.

After all these years, Wes’ story would finally be heard; Johnson could share it with the world. But it meant just as much to him to share the story with the people of Abbeville. In the days after the segment aired, a county employee, a young white woman, approached Johnson to say she was sorry for what had happened. That she had no idea.

“It just gives you some closure,” Johnson says.

When his former students got in touch to apologize, Johnson reassured them it wasn’t their fault. Don’t hate your grandparents, he added; they got caught up in the frenzy of things.

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we have ever done.” It’s something Stevenson often says, and Johnson believes it.

But for the sake of the future, Johnson had something else to say to his former students. Now you know better, he told them. And it’s up to you to pass that on—to your children, and to everyone else you know.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Law & Legal Issues, Race/Race Relations, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Elizabeth Evelyn Wright

Heavenly Father and gracious God, we give thee thanks for the life and ministry of your servant Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, through whose vision, perseverance and strength, a legacy of education was provided for generations then unborn, and we pray for your Holy Spirit’s inspiration to follow her example, through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Education, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(The Conversation) Faith made Harriet Tubman fearless as she rescued slaves

Millions of people voted in an online poll in 2015 to have the face of Harriet Tubman on the US$20 bill. But many might not have known the story of her life as chronicled in a recent film, “Harriet.”

Harriet Tubman worked as a slave, spy and eventually as an abolitionist. What I find most fascinating, as a historian of American slavery, is how belief in God helped Tubman remain fearless, even when she came face to face with many challenges.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(CT) The New ‘Harriet’ Biopic Is Faithful to Tubman’s Faith

Harriet Tubman is one of America’s most iconic figures, as evidenced by the proposed (and still delayed) Harriet Tubman 20-dollar bill and the new biopic Harriet, produced by Focus Features.

After she escaped slavery in 1849, Tubman worked as the only female conductor on the Underground Railroad, assisting escapees along a short route through free states. She was one of the few who at great risk entered slave-holding states to extract slaves and lead them north to freedom. Nicknamed “Moses” by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, very few knew Harriet’s real identity; most assumed a man was making these voyages. Tubman also served in the US army as a nurse, advisor, scout, and spy. Her greatest feat in the service was leading the charge that freed over 750 slaves in the Combahee River Raid in South Carolina.

The film, which covers her life from 1849 to 1864, releases nationwide this weekend. Jenny McGill spoke recently with Kate Clifford Larson, author of Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero, about the historical accuracy of the film, Tubman’s deep Christian faith, and the African American spirituals that were key to her rescue missions.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Movies & Television, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(NPR) With Plans To Pay Slavery Reparations, Two Seminaries Prompt A Broader Debate

Among elite U.S. universities, Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Georgetown have all admitted in recent years that at one time they benefited financially from the slave trade. But two Protestant seminaries have now gone a step further, saying that in recognition of their own connections to racism they have a Christian duty to pay reparations.

Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., the flagship institution of the U.S. Episcopal Church, announced in September that it has set aside $1.7 million for a reparations fund, given that enslaved persons once worked on its campus and that the school participated in racial segregation even after slavery ended.

Earlier this month, Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., followed suit with an announcement of a $27 million endowed fund for reparations, from which $1.1 million would be dispersed annually.

“As a theology school, we use the language of confession to acknowledge our complicity with slavery,” says M. Craig Barnes, the Princeton seminary president. In its announcement, the seminary said a historical audit, while showing that the school never itself owned slaves, nonetheless made clear that it “benefited from the slave economy, both through investments in Southern banks … and from donors who profited from slavery.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

(CC) Jonathan Tran–Hope, oppression, and Ta-Nehisi Coates: Can Christian hope survive the onslaught against black life?

In her endorsement of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Toni Morrison in­voked one of America’s most astute cultural observers: “I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Bald­win died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates.”

Between the World of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Christianity collects powerful and often quite personal essays on Between the World and Me. Most of the contributions circle around two questions: What does one do with Coates’s dismissal of Christianity? And how should one take the book’s seeming hopelessness? Almost all of the authors agree that the two questions are related, and they work hard to think through one of the central moral issues that arises for Christians today: Can Christian hope survive the onslaught against black life?

The second is Prince Jones Jr., who was Coates’s classmate at Howard Uni­ver­sity. Prince was also killed by a cop, his exemplary character and accomplishments unable to save him from a fate that befalls so many African Ameri­can men. At Prince’s funeral, Coates puzzles over the way Mabel Jones, Prince’s mother, clings to Christian hope even in the face of obvious reasons for despair.

How might a Christian respond to Coates’s stance toward Christianity without (as Jennifer Harvey puts it) trying to persuade Coates “to embrace religion or god,” or “hold him responsible for making visible a more complicated understanding of religious thought and practice”? This question takes on added weight if, as Harvey observes, “the religion Coates rejects is a particular type . . . one that emerges from traditions best described as escapist,” where “god is conceived as solution to unending crisis, a ‘go to’ as an explanation of the incomprehensible.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Books, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Lovely Only a Game Profile of Joe Frazier, originally from Beaufort, South Carolina

On April 7, 1971, just one month after his win over Ali, Frazier became the first African American man to speak before the state legislature in Columbia, South Carolina.

“It was an extraordinary event,” Kram Jr. says. “He reached out and tried to implore the members of that assembly to be open to bringing the races together. And, indeed, he wanted to.”

Frazier told the legislature that not much had changed since he left Beaufort, about 140 miles south of the state capital.

“We must save our people, and when I say our people, I mean white and black,” Frazier said in his address. “We need to quit thinking who’s living next door, who’s driving a big car, who’s my little daughter going to play with, who is she going to sit next to in school.”

Read (or listen to) it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Sports

(CT) Botham Jean’s Brother’s Offer of Forgiveness Went Viral. His Mother’s Calls for Justice Should Too.

But many have likely missed footage from the rest of the family, including these words from Botham’s mother, Allison Jean.

“Forgiveness for us as Christians is a healing for us, but as my husband said, there are consequences. It does not mean that everything else we have suffered has to go unnoticed,” Mother Allison told the court.

What went unnoticed? According to Botham Jean’s mother, the crime scene was contaminated by Dallas police. High-ranking officials deleted evidence. Police officers turned off body cameras and vehicle cameras.

“You saw investigations that were marred with corruption,” Mother Allison said. “While we walk as Christians, we still have a responsibility to ensure that our city does what is right.”

Listening to the entire Jean family offers us a fuller picture of Christianity. In their words and posture towards Guyger and the criminal justice system, we hear calls for both forgiveness and justice. But if we elevate the words of one family member at the expense of another, we run the risk of distorting the gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Violence

(AP) Lawsuit by family of victims of South Carolina Mother Emanuel church shooting reinstated to look at faulty background checks

A lawsuit over a faulty background check that allowed a South Carolina man to buy the gun he used to kill nine people in a racist attack at a Charleston church was reinstated Friday by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling from a lower court judge who threw out the claims brought by relatives of people killed by Dylann Roof in the 2015 massacre, and by survivors.

The lower court judge found the government immune from liability. The judge said the families’ claims did not fit into narrow exceptions to laws that shield government employees from liability while carrying out their official duties. But the appeals court panel disagreed.

The FBI has acknowledged that Roof’s drug possession arrest in Columbia, South Carolina, weeks before the shooting at AME Emanuel Church should have prevented him from buying a gun. Roof has been sentenced to death for the slayings.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(LA Times) Disturbing portrait emerges of Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter

He also posted a photo of a Smokey Bear sign warning about fire danger, with a caption instructing people to read an obscure novel glorified by white supremacists: “Might Is Right” published under the pseudonym Ragnar Redbeard. In his profile, which has since been deleted, Legan identified himself as being of Italian and Iranian descent.

The book, published in 1890, includes discredited principles related to social Darwinism that have been used to justify racism, slavery and colonialism, said Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

“The notion that people of color are biologically inferior is a key tenet of this book, and that biological determinism, the Darwinian view of the world, justifies aggression against diverse people and vulnerable people,” Levin said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Violence

(PD) Eugene Rivers+Robert George: On Martin Luther King Jr, Immoral Conduct and Moral Witness

As we’ve noted, the truth is the truth. It doesn’t cease being the truth because of who spoke it or for what reasons. What King said about racism and segregation was true: they are contrary to the biblical teaching that each and every human being is made in the image and likeness of God and is, as such, the bearer of inherent and equal dignity; they violate the natural law—the law “written on the hearts of even the Gentiles who have not the law of Moses,” but who, by the light of reason, can know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, justice and injustice; and they contradict our nation’s foundational commitments, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. At a time when these truths were ignored, and even denied, King proclaimed them boldly.

And this brings us to a point very much in King’s favor, a point that must not be forgotten, even in our sorrow and anger. In proclaiming these truths, he exercised and modeled for Americans of all races tremendous courage—moral and physical. His safety and very life were constantly under threat. He knew he would likely be murdered—indeed, he predicted his assassination. That he had a dark side—a very dark side—does not make him less than a martyr, someone who was targeted and killed for speaking truth and fighting for justice even in the face of intimidation and threats.

Shocked by what has recently come to light, some may call for monuments to King to be taken down and for boulevards, schools, and the like that are named in his honor to be renamed. We ask our fellow citizens not to go down this road. The monuments and honors are obviously not for King’s objectification and exploitation of women, but for his leadership and courage in the fight for racial justice. Everyone understands that. Future generations will understand it too. Just as we ought not to strip the slaveholding George Washington of honors but continue to recognize his courage and leadership in the American Revolution and the crucial role he played in establishing an enduring democratic republic, we should not strip King of honors for his wrongdoing. While acknowledging his faults and their gravity, we should continue to recognize and celebrate all he did to make our nation a truly democratic republic—one in which the principles and promise of the American founding are much more fully realized.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Harriet Beecher Stowe on her Feast Day

Have not many of us, in the weary way of life, felt, in some hours, how far easier it were to die than to live?

The martyr, when faced even by a death of bodily anguish and horror, finds in the very terror of his doom a strong stimulant and tonic. There is a vivid excitement, a thrill and fervor, which may carry through any crisis of suffering that is the birth-hour of eternal glory and rest.

But to live,””to wear on, day after day, of mean, bitter, low, harassing servitude, every nerve dampened and depressed, every power of feeling gradually smothered,””this long and wasting heart-martyrdom, this slow, daily bleeding away of the inward life, drop by drop, hour after hour,””this is the true searching test of what there may be in man or woman.

When Tom stood face to face with his persecutor, and heard his threats, and thought in his very soul that his hour was come, his heart swelled bravely in him, and he thought he could bear torture and fire, bear anything, with the vision of Jesus and heaven but just a step beyond; but, when he was gone, and the present excitement passed off, came back the pain of his bruised and weary limbs,””came back the sense of his utterly degraded, hopeless, forlorn estate; and the day passed wearily enough.
Long before his wounds were healed, Legree insisted that he should be put to the regular field-work; and then came day after day of pain and weariness, aggravated by every kind of injustice and indignity that the ill-will of a mean and malicious mind could devise. Whoever, in our circumstances, has made trial of pain, even with all the alleviations which, for us, usually attend it, must know the irritation that comes with it. Tom no longer wondered at the habitual surliness of his associates; nay, he found the placid, sunny temper, which had been the habitude of his life, broken in on, and sorely strained, by the inroads of the same thing. He had flattered himself on leisure to read his Bible; but there was no such thing as leisure there. In the height of the season, Legree did not hesitate to press all his hands through, Sundays and week-days alike. Why shouldn’t he?””he made more cotton by it, and gained his wager; and if it wore out a few more hands, he could buy better ones. At first, Tom used to read a verse or two of his Bible, by the flicker of the fire, after he had returned from his daily toil; but, after the cruel treatment he received, he used to come home so exhausted, that his head swam and his eyes failed when he tried to read; and he was fain to stretch himself down, with the others, in utter exhaustion.

Is it strange that the religious peace and trust, which had upborne him hitherto, should give way to tossings of soul and despondent darkness? The gloomiest problem of this mysterious life was constantly before his eyes,””souls crushed and ruined, evil triumphant, and God silent. It was weeks and months that Tom wrestled, in his own soul, in darkness and sorrow. He thought of Miss Ophelia’s letter to his Kentucky friends, and would pray earnestly that God would send him deliverance. And then he would watch, day after day, in the vague hope of seeing somebody sent to redeem him; and, when nobody came, he would crush back to his soul bitter thoughts,””that it was vain to serve God, that God had forgotten him. He sometimes saw Cassy; and sometimes, when summoned to the house, caught a glimpse of the dejected form of Emmeline, but held very little communion with either; in fact, there was no time for him to commune with anybody.

–Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Poetry & Literature, Race/Race Relations

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Weldon Johnson

Eternal God, we give thanks for the gifts that thou didst bestow upon thy servant James Weldon Johnson: a heart and voice to praise thy Name in verse. As he gave us powerful words to glorify you, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from thy creation, in the Name of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Race/Race Relations, Spirituality/Prayer

(AJC) Mary Richards–The black Georgia school teacher who turned out to be a Union spy

A local Richmond newspaper wrote a profile of Van Lew when she was near death. The article describes a formerly enslaved woman who worked for the family, had been educated in the Northeast and sent to Liberia then returned to Richmond. That woman was later placed by the Van Lews as a domestic worker in the Confederate White House, according to the article, though it’s unclear whether Van Lew relayed all this on her deathbed. What specific secrets did she overhear? What documents did she read? It’s unclear. Years later, Van Lew’s niece identified the woman in the article as Mary Richards Bowser.

Secrecy and public vagary are essential to spycraft, said the writer Leveen, who is working on a biography of Richards and who wrote “The Secrets of Mary Bowser,” a fictionalized account of Richards’ life.

“We can’t say, ‘These are the battle plans Mary smuggled out of the Confederate White House,’” said Leveen. “It’s not like in a Hollywood movie. But I have no doubt Mary was instrumental in helping to undermine the Confederacy.”

For her part, Richards — who by the time she began teaching in Freedmen’s schools had dropped her married name and, apparently, her husband — gave a series of talks in New York City after the war in 1865. She used pseudonyms when presenting, Leveen said, such as Richmonia Richards. In those presentations, covered by the local press, she talked about her time in Liberia and her wartime exploits, taking care of Union prisoners in a Confederate prison in Richmond, and some forms of espionage in the Confederate White House. But she was apparently short on details, something that has frustrated historians.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces, Race/Race Relations

(Washington Post) Jamie Aten–How A Stephen Curry produced documentary explores forgiveness in the 2015 Charleston church shooting

Q: What first drew you to the “Emanuel” project?

A: I had just gotten married in June 2015, and I was on my honeymoon in New York. I walked into the bedroom, and my wife was crying. She told me nine people had been shot in their Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina.

Then she looked at me and said, “You don’t understand, they’re forgiving him. The family members are forgiving the murderer.” I remember looking at her and saying, “I hope whoever tells that story doesn’t skip that part.” It was that moment for me — encountering this radical, scandalous forgiveness and love for the murderer — that drew me into the story. I wanted the world to know that part of the story.

Q: What was different in this story?

A: It was that they loved him. It was this moment when (survivor) Felicia Sanders said something to him that really changed me: “We enjoyed you.”

When I go out and talk about the film, I’m not just talking about them forgiving him because they wanted to be emotionally free from him. I’m talking about a kind of love you rarely see. Their love for the shooter was a love that said, “I will bear the full weight of the wrong,” which is the highest kind of love — a love for your enemy.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(The Witness) Jemar Tisby–Reflections on the Anniversary of the Murder of the Emanuel Nine

The slayings at Emanuel AME sparked a surge or long-overdue reforms. It served as the impetus to finally remove the confederate flag from the statehouse grounds Charleston. Black people and their allies have long viewed the Confederate flag as the symbol par excellence of white supremacy. The murder of nine black people in a Bible study finally convinced enough white people that the Confederate flag might actually represent not heritage but hate.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu cited the Mother Emanuel tragedy as part of the motivation for his bold stand to take down the Confederate monuments in New Orleans. Landrieu first started calling for the monuments to come down less than a week after the Emanuel Nine were killed.

Racial progress is not a myth, but neither is it a completed project. We have come a long way from race-based chattel slavery. We have come a long way from signs over drinking fountains and riding the back of the bus. We have come a long way from preventing black people from sitting in the pews alongside white people.

But let’s not use racial progress as a reason to ignore the ways racism reinvents itself….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

Remembering Especially the Charleston 9 who died 4 years ago today in the Mother Emanuel Church Shooting

Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Local Paper) Emanuel AME church, shooting survivors form bonds with other traumatized houses of worship

Monday will mark four years since an angry young man with murderous intent slipped into Emanuel and headed for 12 people settling in for Bible study. He sat with them for about an hour, not speaking, until they shut their eyes for closing prayer.

Then he pulled out a gun.

Nine people died that night, including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a state senator who was sitting beside the killer.

And the Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., a retired minister who led the study most Wednesdays.

And Myra Thomson, who led it for the first time that night.

And Susie Jackson, at 87 the oldest among them to die.

And her nephew Tywanza Sanders, the youngest at 26.

And their cousin Ethel Lance, the church’s sexton, a mother of five.

And the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, mother of four.

And the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, mother of three.

And Cynthia Graham Hurd, mother of none but mentor to hundreds in her decades as a beloved librarian.

Nine families, the survivors and the church’s entire congregation found themselves thrust into a journey through what the Bible calls “the valley of the shadow of death.” Then they relived their losses anew with each mass shooting in America, including the Pulse nightclub massacre almost one year to the day after their loved ones died.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NYT) Man Accused of Burning Louisiana Churches Is Charged With Hate Crimes

A Louisiana man accused of setting fire to three churches this past spring has been charged in an indictment with federal hate crimes, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

In an indictment that was returned this month but first unsealed on Wednesday, the Justice Department accused the man, Holden Matthews, of intentional damage to religious property — which the government classifies as a hate crime — and using fire to commit a felony.

Mr. Matthews, who was arrested in April, had already been charged with hate crimes by a local prosecutor, and the federal indictment came as little surprise. But federal prosecutors used the six-count indictment to suggest their theory of a motive for the fires: “the religious character” of the properties where they were set. They did not elaborate.

“Attacks against an individual or group because of their religious beliefs will not be tolerated in the Western District of Louisiana,” David C. Joseph, the United States attorney for the area, said in a statement. “Churches are vital places of worship and fellowship for our citizens and bind us together as a community. Our freedom to safely congregate in these churches and exercise our religious beliefs must be jealously guarded.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Still more on the remarkable Josiah Henson–the Trailer for his Documentary

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, History, Movies & Television, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(CT Christian History) Before ‘Uncle Tom’ Was a Bestseller, He Was Josiah Henson

Upon his return to the plantation, Henson hatched a plan to escape to Canada with his wife, Charlotte, and four sons. He traveled 600 miles—with the youngest two in a knapsack on his shattered shoulders—several years before the Underground Railroad was even established.

Henson’s family joined a freeman settlement called Dawn, (now the site of Dresden, Ontario), near the location of a long-running series of riverside Christian camp meetings. But rather than settle into life as a free man, Henson returned to America again and again and rescued 118 slaves as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

As part of his fight for the freedom of others, Henson spoke and traveled extensively in an effort to raise funds and attention for the abolitionist cause and the work at Dawn. He traveled to the first World’s Fair at the Crystal Palace in London, where he won a bronze medal for the community’s high-quality black walnut lumber.

Through his new British Christian friends, he was given an audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace. Henson’s handlers told him to expect no more than 15 minutes with the second-highest-ranking man in the empire. After more than half an hour, the Archbishop asked, “At what university, sir, did you graduate?” Henson’s answer? “I graduated, your grace, at the university of adversity.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Archbishop of Canterbury, Canada, Church History, England / UK, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

A NYT Review of Jennifer Berry Hawes’ New Book on the Charleston 9 and the Mother Emmanuel Massacre

Hawes is a poised writer and a patient observer who trains her focus on the present. She gestures briefly to Charleston’s role as the epicenter of the nation’s slave trade (“as the Civil War approached almost three in four white families here had owned slaves”) and the long history of attacks on black churches, including Emanuel, which was first burned to the ground in 1822. Her primary interest is in the lives of the survivors and the families of the victims, “the people who will live this story forever.”

For most, trauma begat trauma: health problems, even sudden deaths. One widower lost 60 pounds and became unable to return to work. Bitter divisions flared. Eleven months after the shooting, Sharon Risher and Nadine Collier, two daughters of Ethel Lance, one of Roof’s victims, couldn’t even agree on a headstone for their mother. When Risher finally had one erected over the grave, Collier installed her own version directly in front of it. At one point, according to the author, Risher felt it was more likely that she might forgive Dylann Roof than her sister.

Even those who fought to return to some semblance of normalcy found that their lives had become uncomfortably public. Private people felt forced into activism and advocacy even as the shootings had left them adrift — and they felt spiritually abandoned by their church (which itself became mired in controversy after donations went missing).

Roof remains a shadowy figure in the narrative (see the journalist and critic Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s Pulitzer Prize-winning profile for a more detailed look at his life and radicalization). He is not even named at first, referred to only as “a young white man, lean of frame…”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Violence

(Catholic Herald) Neo-paganism is at the dark heart of the alt-right movement

Katie McHugh, who gained fame as a provocateur of the white nationalist “alt-right,” has left the movement. In a recent interview, McHugh’s message to alt-right friends is “get out while you still can.”

The fascinating profile of her life took her down the rabbit hole of neo-paganism which lies at the dark heart of the movement. Like many lapsed Catholics, McHugh was attracted to aspects of the new paganism which has been steadily growing in post-Christian America. The new paganism is different from the old paganism in that it doesn’t have a thousand functionary gods yet, but like the old paganism, it does have a sacralized view of the world — and man, not God, is the measure of it.

A Catholic friend quoted in the profile reports that in 2014 McHugh had brought him neo-pagan reading materials while he was in the hospital. By some extraordinary grace, McHugh’s friend had the insight to give McHugh St Augustine’s devastating rebuttal of Roman paganism, The City of God Against the Pagans.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Wicca / paganism