The Atlantic

How Will the Church Reckon With Charlottesville?

Religious communities are grappling with the racism that enabled violent attacks against protesters—including the racism within their ranks.
Source: Jim Bourg / Reuters

On Saturday, white supremacists violently attacked protesters marching against them in Charlottesville. A 20-year-old man, James Alex Fields Jr., allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of people, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others. Two state police officers also died while monitoring the protests after their helicopter crashed.

The next day was Sunday. And that mattered.

Religious communities in America have long struggled with racism in and outside of their halls. Christians in particular have worked to overcome their complicity in slavery and Jim Crow. Almost immediately after the Charlottesville murder, a wide range of Christian leaders spoke out against the violence, encouraging , , , and : Many people within the church are frustrated with what they see as passivity in the face of bigotry. In the same way that Muslims are often expected to take responsibility for those on their fringes who commit violent acts of terrorism, people demanded that white Christians account for the violent racists who claim to share their faith.

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