By Bob Allen
The pastor of the only Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church in Charleston, S.C., said Sunday morning that in light of last week’s deadly shooting at nearby Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church the time has come for churches to talk about America’s obsession with firearms.
“I know for many of you the very words cause the hairs on your neck to start to rise,” Flowers acknowledged. He said he was not asking and did not expect American Christians to get rid of their guns, because it’s too ingrained in the culture.
“But can we at least as the people of God move beyond our political fear of a cult who for too long has held our nation hostage, valuing guns over children, weapons over life?” he proposed. “Can we not have some conversation about rational regulation?”
“Do hunters really need an automatic weapon designed to bring about maximum carnage and death in war to fight a deer?” Flowers asked. “This past year a bill to address the rampant domestic violence in our state nearly failed because there were those who didn’t want to see convicted abusers lose their right to carry a gun. Where are our values? Where are our priorities?”
Flowers said last week’s tragedy also points to “the great unresolved American sin of racism.”
“It might have been pride that chased Adam and Eve from the garden, but it is our racism that continues to drive us away from Eden,” he said. “And we have refused to confess this sin. We don’t’ even want to admit it.”
“We still have not dealt with the fact that many in our country did not arrive here voluntarily, but shackled in the bowels of ships,” Flowers said. “They were sold as chattel to build our city, to build our nation, to build Charleston. We have not dealt with our ancestral fear and guilt, our privilege, our discrimination.”
And while “this is by no means a southern monopoly,” Flowers said, “on the grounds of our statehouse flies the Swastika of our land.”
“While the American flag and the South Carolina flag were lowered to half-staff in memory of the horror of this week, the Confederate flag remained high,” Flowers said. “It may have once been a sign of heritage, but it has now come to symbolize the deepest evils of our souls, and it is time — it is past time — for it to be removed.”
Flowers said it is not enough to deal with racism as a public issue “while neglecting our own inner sin,” which “comes in ways that we don’t even realize.”
After being detoured Wednesday evening through an unfamiliar neighborhood, Flowers said he commented to his wife “about the danger we were in.”
“I made that comment almost at the same time that someone who looks a lot like me was committing the most recent act of terrorism in our land,” Flowers said. “See, this isn’t just about Dylann Roof. It is about me. It is about us.”
“What do we do with that?” he asked. “Can we confess our sin? Until we do, holding hands and ringing bells won’t do a thing except make us feel good for a moment. Until we do we cannot transform ourselves, our community and our world. We will just wait till the next time, and pray to God that it’s not here.”