By Shewanda Riley
“10 killed in shooting at Buffalo grocery store.” When I read this headline on social media last week, I thought “Here we go again with another mass shooting.” However, when it became clear that this was not a random shooting but a targeted racist domestic terrorist attack, it grieved me. The sad part is that is the Buffalo shooting is added to a growing list of racist gun attacks. Remember the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh from a few years ago or the shooting at Mother Emmanuel church in South Carolina? Watching the news coverage this past week made me think about the column I wrote in June 2015 immediately after the shootings at Emmanuel AME Church and the church in Southerland Springs, Texas. In both of those columns, I wrote about the importance of forgiveness.
However, it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough to write once again about the power of forgiveness after another mass shooting. Things seem different now. The Buffalo shootings take place in a tense time when some are trying to actively undue education that accurately teaches about the horrifying racist history of our nation. The Pittsburgh shootings took place less than 3 days after two African American grandparents were murdered by a white man in a grocery store in Kentucky. It seems like instead of saying “Forgive,” we as Christians should be saying “Fight!” in response to the racist language found online and coming from some of our elected officials that sees to encourage this violence. But how do we fight? Vote in elections? YES! Pray for our nation and for God to heal our country’s deep wounds of racism? Absolutely. But I wonder if that will that be enough?
It makes me wonder if they agree with the controversial statement regarding racial and social justice created by pastor John MacArthur that adamantly proclaimed “…we emphatically deny that lectures on social issues (or activism aimed at reshaping the wider culture) are as vital to the life and health of the church as the preaching of the gospel … Historically, such things tend to become distractions that inevitably lead to departures from the gospel.”
Perhaps we should all meditate on the truth in Jeremiah 22:3 “Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”
Once again seeing a community traumatized by senseless gun violence makes me think about the eerie silence from high profile evangelicals about the recent spike in violent racist crimes. The same conservative Christians who a few weeks ago so boldly proclaimed that we should pray for and protect unborn children, have been slow to publicly condemn the racist violence. My question is why are they silent after a week where it is clear that there is dangerous increase in racist violence in our country? Why are they not condemning these horrible acts and the dangerously deceitful rhetoric that obviously led to them? The silence is deafening…and speaks volumes in and of itself.
Shewanda Riley is a Fort Worth, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.