Thursday, June 18, 2015

"They died... discussing the eternal meaning of love."

In the Civil Rights era, there were churches that were centers for civil rights organizing.  And they were attacked -- bombed, set on fire.  We know best the story of the 16th Street Baptist church where four young girls died.  In his eulogy for them, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say, "They died between the sacred walls of the church of God, and they were discussing the eternal meaning of love."

In that same eulogy for the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also said:
"They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans. They have something to say to every Negro who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream."
They are words he would share again in his eulogy for the Unitarian Universalist minister James Reeb.

After the shooting in the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, a shooting motivated by hatred of the values we stand for, the UUA launched our social justice movement "Standing on the Side of Love." 

This shooting in Charleston, South Carolina at the Emanuel AME Church says something to us in our religious faith, too. This shooting doesn't call for us to launch a movement, but to join a movement.  This shooting calls for us to be partners, work in solidarity, join coalitions, build bridges. 

These deaths say to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for Love.