Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Karen Ellis ― Understanding Domestic Persecution

The civil-rights activist and religious writer discusses the recent church burnings in the South and whether or not the Charleston massacre was racially or religiously motivated.

Karen Angela Ellis holds a Master of Fine.Art from the Yale University School of Drama and a Master of Art in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary. Follow Karen on Twitter @KarAngEllis

"A church in flames against the backdrop of night is a strong and evocative image.

The tension swirling around the recent rash of Southern church fires in the US is understandable, given the history of terrorism against African American churches. The most recent fire at Mt. Zion AME Church in Greeleyville is being investigated by the FBI and the ATF, and community leaders along with Mt. Zion pastors have shown considerable restraint in ascribing motive, pledging their support for the investigative efforts.

If those who are experiencing the trauma can give this latitude, so can we. As we await answers, the energy of the local and national communities directed toward rebuilding these churches is an encouraging display of solidarity.

Coming just days after the vicious attack on Emanuel AME Church in neighboring Charleston, South Carolina, the tension is made more palpable. Whatever the findings of the ATF and FBI on the church burnings may be, they cannot diminish the concerns raised by the massacre earlier this month in Charleston.

Some of the discussion around the Charleston massacre has explored whether the members were targeted for their race, or for their faith. With a slight nod to Fanon and DuBois, the African American Christian’s dual consciousness is being stretched yet again – this time framed by a paradigm of conflict between our ethnic identity, and our Christian one."

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