The Charleston Shooting Was Not About Religion

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image of Emanuel A.M.E. Church Charleston SC
Emanuel A.M.E. Church Charleston SC

White conservatives, led by FOX ‘news’, have tried to spin the Charleston shooting as an attack on Christians. It continues their effort to marginalize and trivialize African-Americans and their experiences. Of course the issue this time isn’t debatable. Don’t let white conservatives try and distract from the real reasons for the shooting.

The evidence for this being a terrorist attack on blacks comes from the mouth of the shooter himself:

Dylann Roof admits he did it, two law enforcement officials said — shooting and killing nine people he’d sat with for Bible study at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

But why? To start a race war.

That’s what Roof told investigators, according to one of the officials.

CNN’s Evan Perez and Wesley Bruer were the first to report Roof’s confession. Others earlier gave a glimpse into his twisted motivation — including at the time and site of the shooting, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. There, a survivor told Sylvia Johnson that Roof answered one man’s pleas to stop by saying, “No, you’ve raped our women, and you are taking over the country … I have to do what I have to do.”

Charleston church shooting: Suspect confesses, says he sought race war

Also the location of the shooting was symbolic if one knew the history of South Carolina and the civil rights struggle in general:

Focusing on the religion of the nine victims, however, obscures the larger reality of race-based hate crimes at houses of worship. The tragedy at Emanuel A.M.E. represents just the latest in a long line of violent attacks on black churches — targeted not for their “biblical views,” but because of the color of their parishioners’ skin.

White Americans have long been wary of the black church establishment for reasons that are far removed from religious beliefs. In the 1800s, when freed blacks started organizing an autonomous denomination where they wouldn’t be subjected to segregation in the pews — the African Methodist Episcopal Church — their white neighbors were nervous that an all-black space would give slaves the opportunity to organize and rebel. Indeed, the early leaders of black churches preached a theology of liberation. One of the founders of Emanuel A.M.E. attempted to organize a slave revolt in 1822, and the church was burned to the ground in punishment. White slaveowners were so wary of future attempts that laws prohibiting all-black congregations were enacted throughout much of the South and remained in place until after the Civil War.

These crimes weren’t about the fact that parishioners were reading the Bible or praying to Jesus (and, in fact, they were largely perpetrated by a racist group that identifies as a Christian organization). They were about the fact that black Americans were drawing power from all-black spaces, organizing in their own communities, and standing up to racial oppression. In other words, black Christian churches aren’t attacked for being Christian; they’re attacked for being black.

Why Conservatives Can Only Talk About ‘Religious Liberty’ In Charleston

(Read the whole Thinkprogress article quoted above. The whole piece has great information.)

It’s obvious that white conservatives hate being called racists and will do anything to cover up the fact that they are racist including looking for other reasons why a racist killed blacks in a terrorist attack.


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