This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

On High Alert

"The black church has always been the object -- as we saw in Charleston -- of the frustration of extreme white supremacist groups. We are considering the fires and the shooting as a linkage. We don't see these as isolated incidents."
"We are really shaken by these events in light of Charleston. We don't know who is behind this but we have history."
"We have history that the same element is trying to strike a blow at the black church, trying to silence us, to silence our leadership and we will not be deterred by these incidents."
"Let me be very clear: We are going to not sit back and take it. And I'm not advocating violence, we're not going to have guns, but we'll organize ourselves in a way that we create a preventive mechanism."
"Just like the country is on high alert going into the Fourth of July, the black church all across this country is on high alert given the apparent attacks, again, on the black church."
Reverend Anthony Evans, president, Black Church Initiative
Chris Keane / Reuters
On Tuesday night a predominantly black church in rural South Carolina was afire. How it was set, by whom and why have not been settled. Nor whether it was deliberately set. But there is a precedent for this particular church; it was torched twenty years ago by the Ku Klux Klan, and then it was rebuilt by black resolve not to surrender to the blight of racism that grips the United States of America. Not entirely united in their social compact, still struggling with the foundational concept that 'all men are created equal'.

On June 17, nine people were shot dead in Charleston, South Carolina, in their church, a traditional sanctuary, by a young racist now facing trial for his murderous hate crime. Since that June 17 outrage on human decency a number of black churches have been set on fire. Initial results of an investigation attribute the fire to lightning, not racists at the loss of the Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, roughly 80 kilometres north of Charleston.

The National Black Church Initiative, representing a coalition of 34,000 African-American churches, has declared itself to be facing a state of emergency. It has more than ample reason to fear that  white supremacists have targeted black churches, symbolic of a push-back by racists against black activism and church leadership spearheading social change, so very long overdue.

Six churches linked to the black community in the Southern United States have reported fires since police charged 21-year-old Dylann Roof with mass murder impelled by racism. The Black Church Initiative has called upon the U.S. Department of Justice for increased assistance to protect black congregants and leadership. Black church congregations are themselves urged by their leadership to embrace "emergency security protocols".

Statistics compiled through studies on church fires and the presumed randomness of clustered events may not support Reverend Evans' contentions, but he insists on increased vigilance and ongoing commitment on the part of the federal government. Weekly from 2007 to 2011 according to a 2013 conclusion reached by the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 31 American congregations had their houses of worship burn. Of those it is estimated that 16 percent were intentionally set.

Pastor Bobby Jones points to the cross on top of Glover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenville, S.C., where he has preached for more than 30 years. The steeple was one of the only parts of the church left standing.
Pastor Bobby Jones points to the cross on top of Glover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenville, S.C., where he has preached for more than 30 years. The steeple was one of the only parts of the church left standing.  Will Huntsberry/NPR

Which works out to five religious structures deliberately set afire each week for a five-year period. No distinction was made between white and black churches for the purpose of this investigation. But Reverend Evans speaks to the history of white supremacist groups targeting the black church since the 17th Century in America. Post-Civil War reconstruction seems to begin the real history of targeting black churches.

And as far as Reverend Evans is concerned the role that such churches play in organizing the black community to thrust forward on equality and support for their human rights, incites response from racists: "This motivates the extreme white supremacy element that has existed in America since the beginning of America", he insists.

And given the obvious history of the country and the ongoing debate within the country of its failures that the election of a biracial black man as president has been incapable of addressing, who can fault his conclusions?

Charlotte Fire Department  Smoke rises from the Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina after it was set on fire by still unidentified suspects.

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