Much has been said and blogged about the tragic cost of the actions of racist mass-murderer Dylann Roof. The cost in terms of human life and grief is incalculably large.
Dylann Roof stole joy and life from the people of this faith community.
The family members of the nine Charleston Martyers handled this incredibly difficult situation with overcoming Christian love.
But Roof stole other things, too. One thing he stole was the ability for us to easily trust one another. Can you imagine being a member of an all black church, and having a white visitor come and join your church in worship? What thoughts would go through your mind? Would you not wonder if this visitor was the next in a series of Dylann Roofs? You could not be blamed for thinking such a thing. And it has a chilling effect on everyone involved. The white visitor of good will may easily choose not to visit, not wanting to scare anyone.
When I was a grad student at Purdue University, I sometimes visited a small C.O.G.I.C. (Church of God in Christ) parish, which was 100% African-American. It afforded me the opportunity to worship with brothers and sisters in Christ in a way that was outwardly very much different than the Dutch Reformed-style worship of my own home church at that time.
I profited from attending there. But today, in the wake of the Charleston church murders, could I even visit that church? I don't think I could. Not for a long time, anyhow. It wouldn't be fair to the parish to distract them from their worship of Almighty God, wondering about the Other in their midst.
Time can heal some wounds. But not if men like Dylann Roof keep ripping them open.