By William R. Freeman (M.Div.’01)
Dyllan Storm Roof, the young white man who murdered nine Black Christians at Mother Emmanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015 in Charleston, SC after being allowed into a weekly Bible study, was finally found guilty, and on January 10, 2017 was sentenced to death. However, the real story is how did this young man become so full of hate for Black people that he planned and traveled to this particular historic Black church, in this particular city, to kill nine innocent people in prayer with their eyes closed?
Newspaper reports tell us that Mr. Roof is the product of a racist, self-serving minority in this country who can’t come to grips with the fact that America, no matter how hard they try to stop it, is on its way to becoming a very multi-racial society. And, some people, especially certain young white men, who read racist publications, share racists thoughts and ideas on social media, and hangout with persons of similar beliefs, become radicalized; and although most of them don’t go to the same extreme as Mr. Roof; obviously he did.
It has been reported that, at his trial, Mr. Roof chose to represent himself because he did not want his upbringing, his background, his associations, his family and friends to become targets of public scrutiny. Now, as a minister of the Gospel, I don’t believe he was born with this deep hatred. Therefore, the question becomes, where did this hatred and racism come from? I believe the answer is from parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, school mates, teachers, friends and nowadays, as I said above, social media.
Lastly, we are all influenced by these same contacts, because as I like to say, “The Devil Is Busy!” Satan is always trying to get his “hooks” into any vulnerable body; some succumb, some don’t. Dyllan Storm Roof succumbed! We who are Believers know the only way to defeat that battle is to call on Jesus! To paraphrase 2 Chronicles 20:15, “The Battle is not ‘ours’ it’s The Lord’s.” Amen!!