Thursday evening Dylan Storm Roof, after sitting with the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church Bible study for an hour, shot and killed 9 of our African American sisters and brothers. This act of terror is unconscionable, and yet it all too familiar for a city that only in April underwent the horror of Walter Scott’s death. We at Religions for Peace USA stand in prayerful solidarity with those most affected by this tragedy.
We are sadly too familiar with this story. And we know that the evils of racism pervade not only our communities manifesting in individual terrorist acts such as this, but also that our country is suffering from deep structural sins. For people of color in Charleston and all across the country, this crime is a sickening reminder of the United States’ inability to hold a serious national conversation on racism and racial justice.
Today is the first day of Ramadan: a holy month for Muslims all across the world. Ramadan is, in part, a time where Muslims seek to draw nearer to God, and to more deeply align our lives with God. This time of fasting from sun down to sunset helps us see how broken humanity is and how far from God’s promise we are. The death of nine African American Christians, brothers and sisters who had given their lives to their community, comes on the heels of Walter Scott, yes, but also on the heels of an evening in Phoenix only two weeks ago when hundreds of anti-Islam protestors flaunted their guns and hate signs.
Our country is plagued by a mindset that dehumanizes others who fall outside of the norm. For those of us at the margins of society, we see this often. Tragedies like Charleston serve as shocking reminders of this reality to the rest of our country.
We are called, then, to build bridges of justice and to do the hard work of peacemaking in the face of structural violence and racism. We are called to stand prayerfully and in solidarity with those grieving tonight and who will continue to grieve.
Our prayers and thoughts are with those, and we pledge to work, fight and stand for justice and be true peacemakers in a world that badly needs this work.