No Jokes for Charleston, SC

There have been a few times over the past couple of weeks that I’ve been tempted to blog about current events. I’ve studiously kept away from it, partly because the news is heavy and partly because I haven’t been sure of my own thoughts. But the news from Charleston, South Carolina, has created a deep sadness in me that I cannot help but address.

I am sad because people who believed they were in a place of safety had that safety horrifically violated. Being in church carries with it the connotation of sanctuary, an historical association that many Christians still have. That sanctuary was taken from them. But not just from those in Charleston. It was taken from millions of other black Christians who now have to wonder if it can happen to them. Something fundamental has been taken from them and I think we’re not recognizing that enough.

Having said that, let me be clear. This was a racially motivated attack. The attacker said, “I want to shoot black people.” There is absolutely no doubt about what motivated the attacker to kill nine people in an historically black church. That should not be ignored in favor of saying that Christians were targeted. FOX News did that. I will not speculate about why. I will say FOX News is wrong. This was about the people’s race, not about their faith.

I’m going to let Larry Wilmore explain what’s wrong with FOX:

Having let Larry have his say, let me make a very serious point:

When FOX News emphasizes this as an attack on Christians, they take a piece of solidarity away from the Christian community. All Christians enjoy the feeling of sanctuary, whether they be protestant, Catholic or otherwise. Christians need to recognize that this has been taken away from some of their brethren. Black Christians now have a target on their back because of their race. It is up to Christians of all races to recognize this and to make a really important stand against racism.

As the Bible says in Galatians 3:28,

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The Christian community can live this out by pointing out the racial motivations of this attack and saying, “We do not stand for this.” I have yet to see it happen. All I have seen is analysis like that on FOX News where it is an either-or proposition. Either the attack was on Christians, or it was on black people. And we’ve already seen which side FOX took.

FOX News is a joke. Its faux seriousness about the attack was in truly poor taste and completely ignored the facts. But then again, it is a symptom of what is going on in America. In a very serious segment, Jon Stewart, a comedian, said it best:

America probably isn’t going to do anything about the racially motivated violence against minorities. America has already proven that it won’t do anything to restrict the weapons that make such violence possible. But I hope that Charleston will not be a moment when Christians fail, too. I hope that it throws the Christian community into action to protect its own, to stand with each other in solidarity because their faith makes them brothers and sisters. If any group of people should be doing this, it should be Christians.

If they don’t- if Christians act like FOX News and do not do something good with this situation- then they have made their faith a joke. And it isn’t funny.

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