African-American Church has “deep history of forgiveness”

Editor’s Note: This a follow-up article to the story we posted yesterday on the forgiveness offered by the victim’s families to the suspect accused of killing nine people during a Bible study session at a Charleston church (see below). Journalist Adam Harris wrote this article for BBC News.

“What we saw in court today was the best of the black tradition – that your evilness, your hatred will not distort the faith,” says Dr. Eddie  Glaude, professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton University. “There is a tendency to normalise black forgiveness and, in doing so, lose sight of what a miracle it is.”

By all accounts, the African-American church has a deep history of forgiveness rooted in faith and tied into the history of white supremacy in the US.

“Members of the black church believe in the ethos of the founding figures: all persons are created equal in the sight of God,” according to Dr. Alton Pollard III, dean of the Howard School of Divinity.

That notion is what makes it easier to forgive.

“God is always greater and because of that, even in horrific conditions, we can still be faithful,” says Dr Pollard. “Because of faithfulness, we have the capacity to forgive.”

That ability to forgive has emerged as both an act of mercy and a tool against oppression.

Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said: “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”

“There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us,” he added. “When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

Read the unedited, full-length version of this BBC News article – Charleston shootings: Power of forgiveness in African-American church

Here’s another BBC News article you’ll want to read – South Carolina shooting: Historic Church that hosted Dr King about the amazing history of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) and its important role in the civil rights movement. In 1822, for example, the Church was a target of the authorities who foiled a planned slave revolt led by Denmark Vesey, one of the founders. More than 1,000 people were arrested over the plan and 35 of them, including Vesey, were executed and the church itself was burned to the ground. It was rebuilt in 1834. As it looks today. ⇒

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