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Religious Tolerance logo

Mass murder at church in Charleston, SC

Part 2 of 11: The gunman's intent (Cont'd). His
motivation. NRA's comment on preventing
mass murders. Comment by leader of Unitarian
Universalist faith group about mass murder in
one of their churches.

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This topic is continued from Part 1

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woman holding sign saying "Why?" What was the gunman's intent? (Continued)

Perhaps the most convincing evidence that the gunman was motivated by racial hatred was the manifesto which is on a web site that appears to have belonged to Roof. The web site's domain name was registered on FEB-09 to a Dylann Roof from Eastover SC. The next day, the registrant was changed to an Australian company known as "Privacy Protect."

His manifesto said:

"I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight.

I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks [sic] to Whites in the country.

We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one [is] doing anything but talking on the Internet.

Well, someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.

Unfortunately at the time of writing I am in a great hurry and some of my best thoughts -- actually many of them -- have ... [been] left out and lost forever. But I believe enough great White minds are out there already. Please forgive any typos, I didn't have time to check it." 1

His final comment implies that he did not expect to be able to update his web site after the shooting. He may have expected that he would commit suicide afterwards as his comment to the woman survivor indicates.

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Assessments of Roof's motivation by three groups: Fox News, the Religious Tolerance Facebook page and News.Mic:

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, writing for web site, said:

"In a move disturbing to even the most cynical critics of the network, Fox News has begun to use the recent tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, in which an apparent white supremacist committed a mass killing of nine Black men and women in a historically Black church, as 'proof' of the ongoing victimization of Christians. ..." 2

That is, contrary to the alleged perpetrator's statements about wanting to start a race war, and concern about Blacks "taking over," Fox News is saying that the attendees at the Bible study were not killed because they were Black, but because they were Christian.

Speckhardt continued:

"With their so-called 'War on Christmas' becoming less relevant every year, Fox News is opening up a new front in the culture war. While the targets were usually atheists who felt ostracized by ongoing attempts to seek government endorsement of religion, the targets in this instance are a community that is under constant attack by racists and discriminatory institutions. By dissuading their viewers from becoming informed about racial violence in America they open the door for more hate. Instead, we need a sober, informed look at the challenges before us. Only then can we hope to reform the problems that exist within both our society and our government when it comes to race." 2

Brent Reifers, posting to the facebook page, wrote:

"This had absolutely nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with race. Why a church? I don't know, maybe it seemed like an easy target to him. Conservative talking heads just want to make it a religion thing so they can use it to attack non religious people. Its disgusting that they are using this tragedy as a political stepping stone. ..." 3

Natasha Norman, writing for News.Mic about the Charleston massacre, said:

"Frustration regarding media's and the country's collective response to white male criminals permeated much of the grief shared on social media. People compared coverage Muslim and Black shooters have received in the past, as distinct from white male murderers. Echoing the ... [Charleston Police Department's] statements at dawn on Thursday, many also believed this was a racially-motivated hate crime.

There is an epidemic of Black people being subjected to violence or, worse yet, murdered by white perpetrators. Recently, this has largely manifested itself in institutionalized racism, in the way white police officers treat Black Americans.

However, this kind of hate crime, in which there's been a mass murder of minorities, has not been seen in years and is painfully reminiscent of the South's dark history with racism against African-Americans." 4

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The NRA spokesperson suggested how the massacre might have been prevented:

Charles Cotton, a board member of the National Rifle Association blamed one of the victims for not preventing the massacre. He criticized Pastor Clementa Pinckney who is also a state senator for voting against a gun concealed carry bill. Cotton said:

"Eight of his church members, who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church, are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue." 5

In reality, what Pinckney had done was to introduce a bill into the South Carolina legislature which would have required firearms dealers to conduct criminal background checks and a "personal interview to determine if a person is mentally fit" before providing an assault rifle to a customer. The bill went nowhere. Even if it had, it would not have prevented this tragedy because the bill did not cover revolvers. The bill had nothing to do with the concealed carrying of weapons.

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2015-JUN-18: A statement by the president of another faith group who also experienced murder of their members:

The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, issued the following statement:

"News of last night’s shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, SC, fills me with a profound sadness. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims and to the entire Emanuel Church community.

Unitarian Universalists are sadly familiar with the tragedy of church shootings. When two congregants were killed and six wounded at our Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in 2008, the entire community reached out and embraced our congregation with love and support. We will pass that love along to the Emanuel Church community in any way we can.

Emanuel AME Church has faced many hardships over the years, but the church has persevered and thrived. May Emanuel’s faithful find the strength to make their way through the tragedy that has taken the lives of nine of their members, including their pastor. We share their grief, and we stand with them in love and solidarity."

The perpetrator in that case was a person who hated liberals. He figured that there would be lots of liberals among this particular congregation in Knoxville, TN.

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This topic continues in Part 3

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Michelle Shephard, "Racist manifesto allegedly written by Charleston murder suspect," Toronto Star, 2015-JUN-20, at:
  2. Roy Speckhardt, "Fox News Uses Charleston Shootings to Propagate Culture War," The Humanist, 2015-JUN-18, at:
  3. The facebook page is at:
  4. Natasha Norman, "Charleston Shooting Tweets Show How the Media Covers White Terrorism ," News.Mic, 2015-JUN-18, at:
  5. Dan Friedman, et al., "NRA official blames slain South Carolina pastor for Charleston church shooting because he opposed concealed firearms," New York Daily News, 2015-JUN-19, at:
  6. Peter Morales, "Church shooting in Charleston," Unitarian Universalist Association, 2015-JUN-18, at:

Site navigation: Home > Religious violence > Murders in churches > Charleston > here

Home page > Christianity > Christian history, beliefs... > Murders in churches > Charleston > here

small>Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2015-JUN-19
Last updated 2015-JUN-22
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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