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Mass murder at church in Charleston, SC

Part 5 of 11:
Reactions to the flying of the Confederate flag
(a.k.a. rebel flag) outside of South Carolina.
Series of Black Church fires break out in South.

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This topic is continued from Part 4

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Late 2015-JUN: Reactions throughout North America to the South Carolina debate over the Confederate Flag (Continued):

  • Sandy RedBird Harris posted a very eloquent and powerful message to this web site's companion Religious Tolerance Facebook group. She wrote:

    Symbols are very potent tools in the hands of people who would guide the thoughts and beliefs of others -- and, of course, we use them to guide ourselves. Symbols cut through the critical processes of our higher reason and invoke in our minds the very thoughts and emotions that we have programmed into them.

    The Confederate battle flag in question is a symbol. It started out as a symbol for an army and grew, by the end of the war, to stand more for the cause than for the group of warriors that first bore it. Since that time, that flag has been cherished and waved and almost worshiped in place of the victory that the South was denied. And the specific, documented, historical purpose for which the South fired on the US and waged treasonous war was to preserve the peculiar institution of slavery -- to keep the black population owned and subjugated, rather than free.

    There is no escaping that documented purpose -- or the depths of meaning that have been layered onto that symbol.

    This very new, public disempowerment of that symbol of longed-for slavery and suppression of black humanity is moving quickly and gaining power. I think this is because so many of us have been frustrated for so long, knowing the power of that symbol, feeling the power of that symbol, ashamed of what has been done by others in the name of that symbol -- and seeing no way to break that hold.

    One 'accomplishment' of the shooter (who I will not name -- let his name be forgotten) was to so shock those in high places who were riding on the emotions of the symbol toward their re-elections that they had to acknowledge that the hatred has gotten out of hand. Those with the power to break the hold of that flag have looked sideways at each other for backup and are standing up to take action.

    Let us not lose momentum." 1

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  • Amazon, eBay, and Wal-Mart, Google Shopping, and Etsy have announced that they would no longer sell merchandise showing the Confederate symbol. 2,3 Of these, eBay issued a statement saying:

    "We have decided to prohibit Confederate flags and many items containing this image because we believe it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,"

    Amazon eventually agreed to remove Confederate merchandise after they were bombarded via social media by users promoting the hash tag #TakeItDown. 4

  • In Canada, Sears Holding Corp and some of the 13 "The Flag Shop" franchises have removed items for sale that display a Confederate flag symbol. 3

  • Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has cancelled their licensing of the "General Lee" model car with a company named Round 2 Models. This is a 1/16th model of an orange Dodge Charger shown on the TV program "The Dukes of Hazzard." It features a Confederate flag on the car roof. The program is often shown in reruns, so the flag will continue to be seen on TV. 4

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2015-JUN-26: The funeral is expected for pastor Clementa Pinckney, one of the victims of the mass shooting:

President Obama was expected to attend the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator, who was one of the nine victims at the church Bible study. The president will deliver the eulogy. Vice President Biden is also scheduled to attend. President Obama had first met Rev. Pinckney in 2007 during the presidential campaign. Joe Biden had been with the pastor within the last year at a prayer breakfast.

Peter Baker, writing for the New York Times, said:

"The president’s decision to travel to Charleston will place him in the role of national eulogist at the center of a national tragedy, much as he has done in other occasions such as after the massacre at a school in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012. This time it comes freighted with the questions of race and hatred in a country that has elected an African-American as president but still struggles with the legacy of division." 5

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I posted a comment on the The State web site:

"It is not worth the loss of nine lives. However, South Carolina has come a long way in a few days. I hope that the state government will move the flag off of the capitol grounds. That will happen if the White legislators follow the Golden Rule and remove a symbol that causes so much pain to the Black minority." 6

After reading what seemed like hundreds of comments on a web site, I finally read one that not only was free of spelling and grammatical errors, but whose message resonated with me. It was by "Blake" who wrote:

"Removing the confederate battle flag would be a feel-good action and easy to do. Problem solved. However, real solutions to change attitudes towards blacks is much more complex (especially in South Carolina) and would require hard work that no one is willing to undertake." 7

Blake's comments may prove to be too pessimistic. The reverberations through U.S. society triggered by one racist terrorist appear to be accellerating.

I personally disagree with Governor Haley's suggestion that the death penalty be imposed in this case. I have four reasons:

  • Executing persons cheapens the value of human life.

  • The generic racial hatred in South Carolina was a main source of the beliefs that inspired the perpetrator to commit the mass murder. Without that culture of hatred, the shootings would never have happened. Executing the perpetrator would create a martyr for the cause of racial hatred.

  • With the high cost of legal representation during endless appeals, it costs a state more money to execute an inmate than keep him in prison for the rest of his/her life.

  • Executing people is the ultimate violation of the Golden Rule that is found in all major religions -- including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, -- as well as many philosophical systems.

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2015-JUN-26: Fires have occured in multiple Churches in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina during the week following the shooting:

All of the churches were predominately Black. All the fires broke out at nighttime, Some have been determined to be the result of arson. David A. Love, writing for the Atlanta BlackStar said:

"From slavery and the days of Jim Crow through the civil rights movement and beyond, white supremacists have targeted the Black church because of its importance as a pillar of the Black community, the center for leadership and institution building, education, social and political development and organizing to fight oppression. Strike at the Black church, and you strike at the heart of Black American life." 8

The churches involved were:

  • On JUN-23, a fire at God's Power Church of Christ in Macon, GA has been determined as arson.

  • On JUN-24, a fire burned the Briar Creek Baptist Church. in Charlotte, NC has been determined to be the result of arson. It is being investigated as a hate crime. It took 75 firefighters an hour to bring the fire under control.

  • On JUN-26, Glover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenfville SC was completely destroyed by fire.

  • A Black church in Florida also burned, but it seems to have been caused by a tree limb falling on power lines. 9

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This topic continues in Part 6

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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. There is a link to our companion Religious Tolerance Facebook page at the upper left corner of this essay.
  2. "SC lawmakers agree to debate removing Confederate flag," Inside Halton, 2015-JUN-23, at:
  3. "Canadian flag store chain to get owners’ feelings about Confederate flag," Lethbridge Herald, 2-15=JUN-24, at:
  4. Daniel Kreps, "Warner Bros. Bans 'Dukes of Hazzard' Car With Confederate Flag," Houston Chronicle, 2015-JUN-24, at:
  5. Peter Baker, "Obama and Biden to Attend Funeral for Clementa Pinckney," New York Times, 2015-JUN-22, at:
  6. Jamie Self, "EXCLUSIVE: Confederate flag still divides whites, blacks in SC, Winthrop poll finds," 2014-NOV-22, at:
  7. "Confederate flag protest in South Carolina." Yahoo, 2014-NOV-22, at:
  8. David A. Love, "Following the Attack on Emanuel AME, Two Recent Fires at Black Churches Strike at the Heart of Black America," Atlanta Blackstar, 2015=JUN-26, at:
  9. "3 Black Churches burnt in North Carolina, Georgia and S.Carolina in the past 5 days," Daily KOS, 2015-JUN-26, at:

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

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

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2015-JUN-23
Last updated 2015-JUN-27
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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