Respond with Love: Rebuild Black Churches, Support Victims of Arson across the South
Black churches across the south have been target of arson in the past week, help them rebuild and stand united against hate
Faatimah Amat-Allah Knight
They must rebuild and you can help, all houses of worship are sacred
8 Black churches have been burned to the ground since the shooting of 9 parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. These church burnings happened within the span of 10 days. Three were undoubtedly set by arsons; the others are pending investigation. But to many it is clear that these are attacks on Black culture, Black religion and Black lives. These kinds of attacks on Black churches are a very old form of intimidation in the South, historically used to strike fear into the hearts of Black people.
Its Ramadan and we are experiencing firsthand the beauty and sanctity of our mosques during this holy month. ALL houses of worship are sanctuaries, a place where all should feel safe, a place we can seek refuge when the world is too much to bear. We are calling on you to help add our support to faith communities across the country pooling their resources to rebuild these churches. There has not been anywhere near the amount of resources needed to rebuild these churches. The time is now, let’s unite to help our sisters and brothers in faith.
As Muslims we know the importance of protecting the vulnerable and respecting people who call on God in their various tongues. We want for others what we want for ourselves: the right to worship without intimidation, the right to safety, and the right to property. We must always keep in mind that the Muslim community and the black community are not different communities. We are profoundly integrated in many ways, in our overlapping identities and in our relationship to this great and complicated country. We are connected to Black churches through our extended families, our friends and teachers, and our intertwined histories and convergent present. Too often cowards inflict us with a crippling fear, but with encouragement and support from likely and unlikely places fear cannot stop us.
“…you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers are those who say, ‘We are Christians.’ That is because among them are priests and monks, and they are not arrogant.” -Qur’an 5:82
Why this matters? A Note from Imam Zaid Shakir
Imam Zaid Shakir on this urgent need: “The American Muslim community cannot claim to have experienced anything close to the systematic and institutionalized racism and racist violence that has been visited upon African Americans. Unless, of course, we are talking about those of us who members of the African American Muslim community. As a whole, however, we understand the climate of racially inspired hate and bigotry that is being reignited in this country. We want to let our African American brothers and sisters know that we stand in solidarity with them during this dark hour. As a small symbol of that solidarity, during this blessed month of Ramadan, we are gathering donations to help rebuild the seven churches that have been burned down since the racist murders in Charleston, South Carolina.”
Our network of Muslim activists and organizations, including Muslim ARC, the Arab American Association of New York and Ummah Wide will handle all of the logistics for ensuring the funds get to these churches. We have contacts with pastors and church leaders who we will work with to see that these funds get to the churches that need it most.
How You Can Help
“If God had not driven some people back by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, where God’s name is mentioned much, would have been pulled down and destroyed. God will certainly help those who help Him – God is All-Strong, Almighty” -Qur’an 22:40
Help by donating here.
Ask questions about who is responsible for these church burnings with the trending hashtag #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches
Petition the President to re-convene the National Church Arson Task Force: Sign Here
Organize a teach-in or training to understand church burnings and how to protect houses of worship and fundraiser to support rebuilding
Organize a solidarity event with African American churches and use the Muslim ARC #BlackLivesMatter toolkit
And of course, pray. Pray hard.
If you would like more information on the history of church burnings in America as tactics of intimidation, click here: History of Church Burnings
#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches– Timeline of Destruction, 2015
June 17 Charleston church shooting. Nine African Americans killed and tenth shot and survived the mass shooting. (Arrest made)
June 22 College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee (arson)
June 23 God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia (arson)
June 24 Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina (arson)
June 26 Glover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina (arson)
June 26 The Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Florida, also burned to the ground (electrical wiring)
June 24 Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee (still under investigation)
July 1 Mount Zion AME Church, which the KKK torched 20 years ago, burned to the ground (still under investigation)