Today is the first anniversary of a white kid walking into the black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, being welcomed with open arms and loving hearts, being given a seat of honor next to Pastor Pinckney, sitting through a discussion about the love of Jesus, then standing up and screaming, “I have to do it…you’re taking over our country and you have to go,” as he slaughtered 9 precious souls of color because the formative years of his young life had been spent listening to whitefolk say President Obama had taken “their” country away.
My newsfeed was void of expressions of sorrow and signs of solidarity from my many white evangelical friends.
For days I went directly to the pages of the many evangelical preachers I know, searching fruitlessly for “our prayers are with the victims;” “our hearts go out to these precious souls killed in a sacred house of worship;” “we grieve with the victims of this horrible and senseless tragedy.” Not one replaced a profile picture with an image of Mother Emanuel Church. Not one overlaid a mask of remembrance on a profile pic.
No little ribbons. Or hearts. Or candles flickering in the night.
Six months later when 14 predominantly-white people died in San Bernardino at the hands of a black shooter — catastrophic mourning. Endless calls for prayer and remembrance.
I had seen that before…
…when 1,800 predominantly-black lives were lost to Katrina in the days following the August 28 landfall.
We didn’t have Facebook back then but I was creating and maintaining websites for churches. And not one sent me a statement of condolence to post to their website or asked me to create a memorial for the victims.
But two weeks later, I had requests to post about the 4th anniversary of 9/11 — when 2,800 mostly-white people had died.
And people of color were still dying on rooftops.
A lot of evangelicals believed Katrina was punishment from God for abortion in America or for a gay pride parade planned in the French Quarter. Or a pact with the devil sworn by Dutty Boukman 225 years earlier at Bois Caïman.
Many white Christians living lives of prosperous ease couldn’t understand why destitute uneducated people existing outside the margins of society couldn’t summon the resources to evacuate. And they refused to understand — or care — that the precious souls had survived the “act-of-God” and only died as the result of poorly-maintained government dams.
And now it’s 49 gay and gender-queer Americans, predominantly of Hispanic descent.
And, once again, my newsfeed is void of expressions of sorrow from most white evangelical Christians.
Once again, my search among white evangelical preachers for signs of solidarity with humanity; compassionate hearts for those who are different; love for all of God’s children…proved fruitless.
Save for one preacher who tacked a line onto the end of an unrelated post: “Orlando is a tragic reminder that our nation needs Jesus.”
Yes, preacher, those who preach Jesus…really do need Jesus.
Because their hearts are far from Him.