In the wake of multiple church burnings in the South, another historically Black church in South Carolina has burned, with the cause unknown. Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church of Greeleyville, SC is one of seven churches that have burned since the church shooting in Charleston, SC.
According to Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and social activist out of Chicago, the reaction of the media regarding these fires is proof of the racism that lies deep beneath the surface of America.
“While a SEVENTH BLACK CHURCH BURNS in South Carolina. It should be clear to all of us that ending Racism in America will take much more than simply taking down a flag or a Great Speech by a President,” he wrote in a July 1 Facebook post.
“Racism runs deep in the DNA of America and is supported and affirmed every day corporately and individually. It is as natural as the air we breath,” the post continued.
“It will take a Consistent and courageous commitment to expose it wherever it shows its ugly head and dismantle the systems that enforce it. I mean it’s so deep that the 7th church burns and its not even news, America would never allow the burning of a Synagogue to be ignored!!!!!!!!!” Pfleger concluded.
Interestingly enough, Mount Zion was the source of a racial attack in 1995 when two White men who claimed to be members of the Ku Klux Klan set the building on fire. After pleading guilty, the men were sentenced to prison.
According to Tom Mangan, a special agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), “Anytime there is a house of worship involved in a fire, ATF is automatically assigned to look into the cause.”
A former representative of South Carolina, Bakari Sellers, says the recent burning of the church was “another punch to the gut.”
“This community has been through so much. We’re weary. We’re tired,” Sellers said, referring to a recent White-on-Black killing that the community faced back in April.
David Love, writer and activist, believes that Black churches are the source of these attacks because they are “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.”
“That’s the goal, is to instill fear and to draw attention so that people don’t forget,” he added. “It may not be arson now, but people look at the cases where it actually did happen and feel, ‘It could happen again.’”
Despite the recent attacks, the Rev. William Hall of St. James Evangelical Church says that “under no circumstances” will they change their security due to fear.
“It’s not a time to be paranoid, it’s a time to pray. We do know people come to church to prey, but we come to pray for them,” Hall stated.