Now that the perpetrator of the Emanuel Church massacre has been apprehended and charged, the media is ablaze with heart rending images of family members struggling through their grief to offer forgiveness to Dylann Storm Roof. Many colleagues in ministry, most of whom are faithful allies in mainline churches like my own, the Episcopal Church, where people of color are few and far between, are waxing poetic about the power of forgiveness. I do not doubt the sincerity of my friends and colleagues. But I have to admit, even as a man who works so hard to lead with thoughtful compassion and introspection–much to the consternation of my more pointed and eloquent black colleagues–the readiness to laud forgiveness too early and too often horrifies me.
Having just learned of Duke University’s cowardly and ill-considered decision to rescind its invitation to its Muslim student group to broadcast the Friday call to prayer from its chapeltower, and especially after reading Franklin Graham’s foolish comments, I wish I could tell you that these people are not true Christians. Unfortunately, I cannot. To be sure, their actions in no way embody the teachings of Jesus or follow from our doctrines. No, this is not what being a Christian means.