This year’s Juneteenth would have been the saddest in recent memory, if not for the most remarkable example of Christian witness in this generation.
Largely thanks to the victims’ families, this may well instead be a signature unifying event for a nation, nearly on a par with 9/11.
South Carolina law allows for victim impact statements at a bail hearing, not merely before sentencing, and the extraordinary statements by DSR’s victims (he shall not be named again in this column) showed Americans a side of the black community that the mainstream media would like to pretend doesn’t exist, and even now is uncomfortable about showing.
Instead of what we have come to expect from such hearings—e.g., victims focusing on their pain and telling the perpetrator what an evil person he is and that they hope he never gets out—the families of the dead expressed the love of Jesus and a message of forgiveness to the racist monster who murdered their loved ones.
The “Victim Statement” became a Witness Statement.
No matter what else happens or comes out in this trial and investigative process, this will be the seminal moment of this event.
Barack Obama, who declares his “Christianity” whenever it suits his purpose in the discussion, made a lame attempt to stump for gun control as his first reaction to the shooting. Later, he issued the blandest and most secular statement imaginable in reaction to the Witness Statement, calling it “an expression of faith that is unimaginable but that reflects the goodness of the American people.”
That statement will move many Christians to look within and wonder if their faith is as strong as that expressed in the Charleston court; but to very few practicing Christians is the statement “unimaginable.” Nevertheless, to impute this expression of Christian love and forgiveness to the whole of the American people, as Obama did, is—well, unimaginable.
Supposed Methodist Hillary Clinton was even more embarrassing, blathering on about gun control and “white supremacy” in a clumsy and blatant attempt to fire up the “Obama coalition.”
On the Sunday shows, while the families’ statements were central, if you never saw the video or had audio from the service at the Emanuel AME Church itself, just what religion the victims were practicing or their families were expressing might have escaped you. You would have been forgiven for thinking that this was merely a loving social group or civil rights group that a bloodthirsty killer decided to shoot up.
On the day of, however, the reaction of the panel on Fox News’s The Five was also telling. The religious members of the panel, Juan Williams, Eric Bolling, Dana Perino and Kimberly Guilfoyle, were clearly moved by the statements—none considered them “unimaginable.”
Greg Gutfeld, who starts every discussion that touches on religion with the disclaimer “I myself am not religious,” with just a touch of intellectual superiority, was blown away. “I will never be this good,” he declared, and expressed wonder and bafflement at “where this comes from.”
This, I believe, is where the Charleston Witness Statement will do the most good, aside from helping unify the nation and avoid the unrest some will try to foster.
But even though I believe that this was most powerful public expression of Christianity in a generation, I must confess that I am indifferent to its impact on DSR.
How bad a Christian am I for hoping DSR doesn’t repent and goes to Hell? And that I hope Nadine Collier’s tearful statement is played in an endless loop in his head for the eternity he spends there?
But then again, I would never send my son to die for you, either.
I recognize I have a far less personal stake than the victims in this event, and that forgiveness is not mine to grant or withhold. I believe that God will forgive if forgiveness is sought; and if the killer converts through the witness of these Christians he wronged in Charleston, that would be another great witness to the world—though some would suspect a cowardly attempt to escape the death penalty. I recognize that if this happens, the angels will rejoice, and that I am obligated to rejoice along with them.
(I would quibble with the declaration that God “forgives” him, however — not until he asks, though the means for forgiveness has been provided — but I will leave that discussion for the theologians, some of whom would argue otherwise.)
To the mainstream media, black Americans are a collection of grievances and criminality. About the only time they cover a religious topic is when they can pick an out-of-context quote from the pope that they appreciate and can use as a political weapon.
But for one shining moment, in the aftermath of an act of incredible darkness, True Religion stood up and was counted in a way the secularist establishment could not ignore; they could only stand mute and honor it.