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Update July 3:  A fund to rebuild the burned black churches has been started by MoveOn, with 100% to be donated for the rebuilding.  Click here to help rebuild the burned churches.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: 2005 KKK cross burning, Confederate till Death - English Wikipedia

July 2, 2015 (San Diego) – In a week when America celebrates its independence, the freedom to worship guaranteed by our constitution is under attack for some Americans.

Seven black churches have been burned across the south since a racist gunman shot and killed nine people at the Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina two weeks ago.

The latest church burning occurred at the Mt. Zion AME Church in South Carolina – the same church that was burned by the Ku Klux Klan 20 years ago. CNN reports that the FBI has indicated the latest burning may have been caused by lightning, since there were several lightning strikes near the church and no accelerants or other signs of arson were found there. 

But at least two of the other recent burnings have been confirmed as arson and a third is suspected to be arson, CBS reports.

But questions have been raised after past church burnings over the objectivity of law enforcement officers responsible for conducting investigations into such crimes.

The Los Angeles Times has reported on the long history of black church burnings in America as well as troubling ties between law enforcement and white supremacists.  The Justice Department, in a 1996 report titled “The Good Ol’ Boy Roundup,” probed a whites-only gathering by that name which included Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officials and other federal officers. The report stated, “Our investigation revealed ample evidence of shocking racist, licentious, and puerile behavior by attendees occurring in various years. We also found that an atmosphere hostile to minorities -- and to women…” 

Before the latest tragedy, the NAACP sent out tweets stating that it was “alerting black churches to take necessary precautions.” The nation’s oldest civil rights organization advocating for African-Americans also said that it is urging the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the string of black church burnings across several southern states.

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Amazing Grace in Forgiving - Submission by Dennis Moore

Dennis, Great narrative on Forgiving and Forgiveness in the wake of the Charleston South Carolina killings. I think the act of forgiveness shown by the families and congregants has stunned the world and has some people expressing disbelief, and to a lesser extent, anger at the families for being so forgiving so soon. I think the general population was expecting riots and protests but "grace" is something to be reckon with, it causes one to pause, and to think for a while at the magnanimity shown towards the killer. Whether or not he deserved it is debatable, however, that act of forgiveness at such a critical time is a powerful example of what "amazing grace" is all about. Jacqueline Carr Author - A Selected Few Just For You.

RE: Amazing Grace in Forgiving

Media is a powerful tool, used to inform us of happenings around the world, but sometimes it is used as a tool to reveal exactly what it wants us to see or know. The media shows us police officers who violate civil rights, rarely does it portray good officers who save lives. The media shows us violent black people who kill, steal, and destroy; oftentimes, neglecting to show us the African-American child who invented a great medical device, or created some type of unity in the midst of a great divide. So if you are constantly shown certain aspects about a person, you will naturally assume this to be true. The world did not expect forgiveness on the part of the parishioners at the church, they expected to see what the media always shows us on t.v., riots, race wars, etc. Do not think for one moment that everything being pumped through the television isn't purposely done. Do not think for one moment that this is not setting us up for worse occurrences in the future. While we are busy dealing with racism, terrorism, injustice, drugs, and job loss; something much bigger and sinister is going on in close door meetings that will affect everyone! It will not just be for the blacks, or whites, or any one race individually. It is about the rich, and I mean top 10% rich of the world, against EVERYONE else. I have hinted on this in my book, and it is a scary plan. People need to wake up and start looking around, the fight is not against each other, the quicker we realize this, the better we are prepared to deal with the events that are to come! Cortina Jackson Author of "On Earth As It Is In Hell"


"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is such a rare act that most do not know how to respond, except in stunned silence. Relatives of the nine people murdered while attending a Bible study and prayer meeting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, told the accused killer they forgive him.

In violent streets we have become used to calls for retribution, appeals for justice, rioting, looting, marches and self-appointed civil rights leaders hogging cameras and microphones with angry people standing behind them and chants of "no justice, no peace."

But this; this act of forgiveness by grandsons and sons, daughters, husbands and other relatives of the dead is so out of character, so distant from the "norm" we have come to expect, so not Ferguson, Missouri, or Baltimore, so not the Middle East, that it makes the world stop and pause.

Preachers call it "grace," which they define as "unmerited favor." The accused killer doesn't deserve it, but he is offered forgiveness nonetheless.

It speaks volumes about the character and spiritual strength of those extending grace to him. In a normal person, grace might bring repentance and, yes, salvation, which is what at least one of the relatives said was praying would happen to Dylann Roof, a deeply troubled 21-year-old who is accused of the murders.

When the world sees such acts of kindness, it doesn't know what to say.

For many it is unfamiliar territory. And yet it is precisely the outworking of what those in that prayer meeting found in the Bible they were studying and the God to whom they prayed. It is a part of the nonviolence taught and practiced by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His refusal to respond to violence helped turn the hearts of many and change the laws of a nation.

Pictures of church services following the killings showed a racial diversity and a coming together that might not just heal Charleston, but serve as a model for the rest of the nation about how to react to senseless violence. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's emotional response to the murders also served as a needed balm that can help heal Charleston's deep wound.

"Amazing Grace" is a hymn sung in churches, at funerals and on other occasions.

It is familiar even to those who are not regular churchgoers and may not fully appreciate its meaning.

The author, John Newton, was a slave trader. The story of his remorse, repentance and salvation has been told in books and films, but never better than in the first verse of his hymn:

"Amazing grace! How sweet the sound; That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see."

Those sweet people who unknowingly but graciously welcomed Dylann Roof into their prayer meeting, only to come face to face with a man who in the parlance of the church must have been possessed by a demon, if not Satan himself, are now receiving the fruits of God's grace.

Relatives of the dead who have extended grace to Root have also modeled it to the rest of the country.

In doing so they are examples of the One they follow, who, though innocent of any wrongdoing, said to His Father while hanging on a cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."


"This was a Commentary by Cal Thomas in the Antelope Valley Press Newspaper here in Lancaster, California."

Black Church Burnings Across South

Miriam, Great article, it's funny that the church burnings are not being heavily covered by the news media. I seem to be hearing more about NBC non coverage of Ms. Universe and severing ties with Donald Trump than Black Church Burnings across the South. Thank you for shedding some light on this in this forum. Jacqueline Carr Author - A Selected Few Just For You

Thank you Jacqueline.

I was surprised at the lack of media coverage too on this issue, compared to all the "dump Trump" coverage.


There IS a federal investigation ongoing. WHY would you show a picture of a KKK cross burning when there is NO indication of ANY KKK involvement. This is one of your worst pieces of yellow journalism EVER!

We could not find a public domain image

of a church burning that we could run. (We have no budget to buy photos for national news stories).  The KKK did previously burn the same church.

If anyone would like to donate money for us to establish a fund for purchasing photos it would be greatly appreciated. I spent over an hour searching trying to find a public domain image of any of the churches that have burned.

Latest we had was 3 appeared to be arson.

Back in the 1990s there were hundreds of church burnings and the last time the church that the latest church in Charelston that burned went up in flames in the '90s, KKK members were actually convicted of the crime, and there were findings the KKK was behind other burnings, too.  At the time some of the white cops were found to be covering up investigations to whitewash outcomes. So it's understandable why some would take findings of no arson or no hate crimes with a grain of salt.

That said you are correct that it's also wise not to assume that all church burnings are arson or if arson, hate crimes.  We had one at a white church in Casa de Oro recently that was set by a mentally ill person.  Each one needs to be judged separately but if there is a spate of these burnings all at once, right after a shooting in a black church by an avowed racist, then a federal investigation would seem appropriate to assure that there is no whitewashing to cover up arson or hate crimes.

Slow news days = racism

Only ONE of these churches is now under suspicion of being purposely set and it appears it is to cover up a burglary. Let's not start adding to the tension and talking about the democrat party starting the KKK many years ago. I even forgive them for that. Heck I even forgive the democrats for having a grand wizard since the 50's and who was a democrat senator until 2010!! That being Robert "Sheets" Byrd. What starts racism is this kind of supposition being spread across the country when it is evident that lightning is the cause. Even evil "white" churches burned.