Reported by Robert Stitt
On June 17, a racially-motivated shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina shocked the world. Twenty-one-year-old Dylann Roof, a self-proclaimed White supremacist, hoped to start a race war by killing members of the historic Black church. He opened fire during a prayer group, killing nine people, including the church’s pastor, Senator Clementa Pinckney.
The victim’s families publicly forgave Roof for his actions, taking the words of Jesus quite literally. They have been met with mixed responses from those who are humbled by their faith to those who believe they are foolish for forgiving a killer so easily and openly.
The shooting sparked a national debate on Black oppression, gun control, and the images of oppression such as the Confederate flag. When Pinckney’s body was taken to the capital to be honored, the Confederate flag, the symbol of the hatred that led to his death, flew overhead.
This week, Christian rapper Lecrae tossed his hat into the commentator’s ring. He was not opposed to the forgiveness shared by the victim’s families, but said that forgiveness needed to be given in conjunction with the correction of oppression.
According to Christian Headlines, Lecrae said that Christians must “do more than simply encourage the oppressed to be calm and act peacefully.” He quoted the Biblical book of Isaiah, noting that chapter 1, verse 17 tells us to “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression.” He noted that we cannot continue to look beyond history and be blind to its influence.
Lecrae pointed out that this event was not an isolated incident. It is part of a larger problem that has troubled our nation for years. He spoke about the shooting of Michael Brown and the Confederate flag that still flies despite its negative meaning.
In commenting on Brown and the flag, he said, “We, as individuals, are of course culpable for our actions, but we cannot overlook the effects of the past.”
As a representative of the Christian faith, Lecrae also spoke about our human condition and the spiritual reality we live in. In an interview with Billboard, he said, “There is a great antagonist, and it does not have Black or White skin. It is the brokenness of humanity. May a love that miraculously mends our brokenness be the protagonist.
He then encouraged the nation to turn to Jesus. The Gospel, he noted, “frees the soul, frees us to live selflessly toward others with genuine compassion.”