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  Advocating for Justice > Racism is Real

Racism is Real

In 2015 we cannot deny the fact that racism is still real. Racism is a combination of prejudice and power. When systems develop with policies having been informed by prejudice that is called structural or systemic racism.

In June of 2015 nine people were shot and killed at the historic black Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, SC. Some news commentators attempted to describe this as an attack motivated by anti-Christian sentiment rather than race, despite the shooter's own stated intention. Part of the desire to reframe this attack comes from denial of the reality of racism and its symptoms in our culture.

Many faith bodies have made statements in response to the shooting and attesting to the reality of racism. Below are some, either linked to or reprinted in their entirety. You may scroll down or use CTRL+F to find a statement from a particular tradition.



President Barack Obama's Eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney

See the entire funeral on Youtube. President Obama's eulogy begins at 1:22:15.

Minnesota Council of Churches, Minnesota Catholic Conference, Jewish Community Relations Council Joint Statement

The Minnesota Council of Churches, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and Dakotas issued the following statement in response to yesterday’s murders in Charleston, S.C.:

“The Minnesota Council of Churches, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and Dakotas condemn as an affront to God and humanity the reprehensible murderous hate crime committed at the ‘Mother Emanuel’ AME Congregation in Charleston, South Carolina. We pray in solidarity for the victims and their families and friends; the church; the people of Charleston; and our nation. We support all levels of law enforcement in the investigation of this crime and swift prosecution of this perpetrator.

“The murders are a stab to the heart of all decent people, everywhere. Churches and houses of worship in the United States and throughout the world are places of prayer, contemplation and protection. For the historic black churches, their sanctuaries were the heart of non-violent peaceful protest, often in the face of violence, in the national struggle to secure civil rights, voting rights, and dignity.

“Yesterday’s murders are a reversion to some of the worst moments of our nation’s history. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in response to the September, 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing which killed four African American girls echo sadly and loudly today. These murders are ‘one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.’

“Yet the faith community has already demonstrated its solidarity with the victims. Religious organizations across the country have reached out to the African Methodist Episcopal Church leadership and South Carolina Council of Churches in support.

“Contributions to ‘Mother Emmanuel’ AME congregation in Charleston can be made at”

Statement from the National Council of Churches and Links to Statements from NCC Member Communions and Affiliate Organizations

Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Demand Action to Confront Racism in the U.S.

Address of Right Reverend Bishop John Richard Bryant, African Methodist Episcopal Church, at the National Press Club.

South Carolina Christian Action Council

To the Church of Christ Jesus at Mother Emanuel and all who bear her good will:

For such a time as now, God intends the Church to bear witness to the One in whom the world receives redemption. Our witness as the Church is singular concerning the One to whom all praise is reserved, and yet our witnesses are manifold according to our particular places. Thus there is a unity of the highest and most profound nature because it permeates all of our intentions “so that the world may know” God’s intention in Christ Jesus to love his disciples – the rejected of their day – and thus the whole world.

Such love has been demonstrated for all to see in the life of the Rev. Mr. Clementa Pinckney and his eight companions martyred with him. To be made a martyr is not of the disciple’s choosing. As our Lord Jesus said to his disciples, “You did not choose me but I chose you.” Neither should one think that the deaths of the Emanuel Nine were a decision of God. Rev. Pinckney and the disciples with him practiced Christian faith fully, as the scripture says: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Likewise, all have noted how the family members of the martyrs have expressed the very conviction of Jesus on the cross in reference to the assailant, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Seldom in our history has the purity of love and the innocence of faith been so completely offered in the face of such intentional hatred in the very sanctuary of God. It is as though history itself focused its lens specifically upon the most appropriate place in the Deep South by which the generations of racial injustice could begin to reverse themselves by receiving the message of reconciliation. We stand before the universal and eternal truth of the Cross of Christ: unmerited suffering is redemptive.

Now all who are called to leadership in the church, all of the baptized, every assembly and every council appear before this moment like the one in which Jesus prayed, “For their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.” Rev. Pinckney and the other Emanuel Nine have become ambassadors of reconciliation. From the heart of the Black Church comes forth a word of forgiveness offered to all whose minds and imaginations have been made captive to the sin of supremacist beliefs. From that sin have come forth many great and perpetuating injustices and inequities. Now is the time of repentance for those of us who have enjoyed privilege at the expense of the suffering of our fellow brothers and sisters. This holy moment sends us forth to enact sure and certain reform across all of society; for the work of hate can be undone by the labor of love.

We commend the Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the Rev. Daniel “Super” Simmons, the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Brother Tywanza Sanders, Sister DePayne Middleton Doctor, Sister Cynthia Hurd, Sister Myra Thompson, Sister Ethel Lance, and Sister Susie Jackson to the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all, to the Holy Trinity, the Father, + the Son and the Holy Spirit, that they, martyrs each, may wear the crown of glory. We present their witness in our churches so that the faithful may be inspired by their example. We honor their lives so that their families may be affirmed in the holy and certain hope of the resurrection. May it be as now as it has been before that holy intentions grow from the seeds of the martyrs. Even as we commend the faithful Emanuel Nine to God, we commit ourselves to the work of repentance within the church and throughout society.

For indeed, we did not choose this moment, but God has chosen us all in it that we might be appointed “to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last”. May Jesus Christ be praised in the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God!
The Feast of John the Baptist, 2015

Church of God in Christ

The Church of God In Christ extends truly deep and sincere condolences to the families of the 9 innocent victims who lost their lives during a Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church on Wednesday, June 17th in Charleston, South Carolina.

We join with the millions of voices throughout the world in decrying the senseless shooting of worshippers at Mother Emanuel Church. Sadly, we are living in an increasingly perilous time.

We believe this particularly egregious hate crime to be indicative of the bitter fruit that hate always produces. Hate crimes against the African American community are instigated by powerful voices that misinform susceptible individuals about the desperate plight of our community. Instead of honestly addressing the systemic causes, voices of ignorance and hatred attribute problems within the African American community to race. Buying into this lie justifies actions such as we witnessed in Charleston, SC last night.

The tragedy at Mother Emanuel Church is yet another wake up call to the entire African American Church, calling for effectual prayer coupled with sustained action. In this moment, our hope is that the Body of Christ will come together in unity, as never before, to address the violence, the poverty, the racism, the economic disenfranchisement and inequality that is ripping the fabric of our communities and indeed the entire nation apart.

While it is certainly difficult to comprehend such senseless acts of hate and terror, we stand in solidarity with Christians everywhere, believing that the peace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, surpasses all of our understanding. May the hearts of the victims’ families be comforted by this sustaining truth alone

Minnesota Annual Conference United Methodist Church

Saint Paul Area Synod ELCA

New Mexico Conference of Churches (PDF)

International Rabbinic Organization of Conservative Movement in Judaism

A Prayer of Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker, Mount Zion

A Mi Sheberach after the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina

For Shabbat Korach, 3 Tamuz 5775, June 19-20, 2015

Mi sheberach avoteinu v'imoteinu....may God who blessed our ancestors in times of both tranquility and trial, bring today a healing embrace to a nation in tears, to families crying out from the loss of their loved ones, nine souls - victims of hate, nine souls - victims of gun violence, nine souls - victims of racism, nine souls taken from this Earth too soon. Please, O God, usher these souls to Your eternal embrace in peace.

On this day of peace, Shabbat, we acknowledge the depth of our pain, our hearts broken from yet another shooting, from a hate crime rooted in the evils of racism at a time when our country is reeling still from Ferguson, Baltimore, and yet again Charleston.

May we shore up our courage to name the racism that exists still in our country, the racism that robs all of us of our humanity in God's image, and victimizes people of color in insidious ways. May we name, and speak out, and in so doing bring honor to the nine souls who did not choose to die for this cause, whose murders cast a long shadow on our society, whose memories will inspire millions of people of conscience to say, not again, not again.

May the Holy One of Blessing bring comfort to the mourners and resolve to our hearts. And let us say, Amen.

Hindu Community Center of Minnesota

Hindy Community Center, individually and as a member of Twin Cities Interfaith Network, stands in solidarity with the members of Emanuel AME Church, the families of the victims and the Black community of Charleston, South Carolina. This apparent hate crime sadly harkens back to the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. This is not the direction we should [ever] be going as a civilized country.


Bishop Fred Washington, Church of God in Christ, at an MCC board meeting.

Other Prayer Service Resources

On the Second Anniversary

Special Elements

Sample Bulletins




On Racism

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