Friday, June 19, 2015

Emanuel AME & Mental Illness

Many years ago a gunman walked into the church in Texas where my aunt and uncle worshipped. He shot and killed a couple of people and wounded others. My aunt was there that evening but fortunately or providentially she was in another part of the building.

This incident came to mind when I heard about the hate-crime slaying of nine people in a church in South Carolina. There are two issues at play in this recent horrific event. One is the colossal mess around gun out-of-control in the United States. There is no point in using the term "control" because there is none. The murderer in Charleston was given his weapon for his twenty-first birthday and not long after went on his rampage. Everyone in the States has the right to mow down their neighbours. Frankly, I found President Obama's statements sickening. The same thing is said repeatedly and nothing changes. This is a sin.

The other issue is race. Emanuel AMC Church has a storied history of civil rights activism and working toward better race relations. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke there. This was no random act by a madman. This was a strategic attack by a racist. As someone has said, if he had been a person of colour he would already be labelled as a terrorist or a thug. Because he is white he has been termed mentally ill. Racial hatred is a form of mental illness, but it is inexcusable.

Why won't the legislators of America address their collective mental illness of allowing this repeated slaughter? Why won't the spiritual leaders of this supposedly Christian nation rise up with a collective voice of outrage and protest? Shame.

Here is a prayer passed on by reader Judy which may provide some solace in the disheartening aftermath of this terrible incident.

A Prayer for Historic Emanuel AME Church of Charleston, SC
Nancy Taylor

Dear Mother Emanuel:

You, who authored courageous slave rebellions, who suffered and survived wretched bigotry, burnings and earthquake,

You, you who worshipped underground when black churches were outlawed …

Dear Mother Emanuel, in this day of grievous heartache we wrap you in bands of prayer.
We pour out upon your broken hearts the healing balm of Gilead.

You, whose shepherd has been taken from you,
   whose building has become a tomb,
   whose children are terrified:
We stand with you.
   We weep with you.
We rage for you.
   We keep vigil with you for your beloved dead.

May the God of Moses and Miriam, of Jesus and the Mary’s,
anoint you with healing, furnish you with hope and,
one day, some day, mend your torn hearts and wipe the tears from your swollen eyes.
God help us.

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