The White American Church is Irrelevant

By Amira Sakalla

Yet another deep, poetically tragic intersection of the Black and Palestinian liberation movements has left my spirit troubled lately.

Last week, the town of Tabgha, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, woke up to the partial destruction of the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes. Tabgha, a Palestinian village prior to the formation of the State of Israel, is where Jesus is said to have multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish to feed 5000 people. Overnight, Zionist extremists are suspected to have committed arson on the church atrium, leaving millions of dollars of damages and a spray painted message in Hebrew. “False idols will be smashed.”

On the same day, Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church stands devastated by the murder of 9 members of its congregation. The Emanuel AME Church was founded by worshippers fleeing racism and throughout its history has been persecuted and forced to meet in secret. An hour after being welcomed in, twenty-one year old Dylann Roof opened fire during a prayer meeting, leaving only with the words, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country — and you have to go.”

Wadie Abu Nasser, the Holy Land’s adviser to the Roman Catholic Church, spoke in recount of the Church at Tabgha arson with striking, almost horrifying insight into our thoughts on Charleston here at home. “There have been dozens of attacks against holy places in Israel,” he said. “This is more than just one person. There is hatred of the other here and a lack of respect.”

Nasser’s comments shed light on the elaborately constructed bridge between Zionism and white supremacy. These acts of terrorism against “Other”-ed Christians are products of racist systems at the foundation of two of the world’s strongest self-proclaimed democracies. America will call Dylann Roof “quiet” and “deranged” while young black children are left in the street and tackled to the ground at a pool party like animals. Israel will act with leniency in courts towards Israeli extremists “because of their young age” while Palestinian children sit in solitary confinement, stand in Israeli military court, and are kidnapped from lying in their beds.

Dear Churches of White America,

How much hate do you have for us that you would rather allow your own houses of worship to be destroyed than stand with us in the fight for liberation?

How do you allow this to continue?

How much you must hate us that you watch us killed and remain silent.

Throughout my life, I have watched Palestinian churches and mosques terrorized by Israeli extremists, and I have asked these questions too many times. You go on Bible tours and missions vacations through an occupied land, prancing through a fairy tale as your Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters face the same hatred by Zionism that your Savior faced by the Roman Empire. I always gave you the benefit of the doubt. I saw how twisted American media was. I knew you had no idea about the unity of Palestinian Muslims and Christians under Israeli occupation, and that you were deceived.

But now, I am done. Now, it is too close to home. Now, nine in Charleston are dead, and even the crickets are still sleeping. Of course, the Black church (and of course, all other black spaces, Africa for example) have been under fire for the past 400 years. For my Black brothers and sisters, the Charleston shooting is probably not much of a surprise. They, too, have probably stopped asking how much it will take for you to care about them. After all, when you are not parading through Israel, you are wandering through African villages and urban American neighborhoods trying to figure out whose life you can save and which black child you should Instagram, all the while marinating in America’s white supremacy.

Honestly, when are you going to do something useful?

Honestly, when are you going to do something useful? We’re all waiting for your guilt to be satisfied so you can hop off the white savior train and start doing something productive to our liberation. In 28 hours another black man is going to be dead. Tomorrow morning two more Palestinian children will be

I have tried very long and very hard to avoid coming to the conclusion James Baldwin did when he reflected on the principles governing churches around him. “The principles were Blindness, Loneliness, and Terror, the first principle necessarily and actively cultivated in order to deny the two others. I would love to believe that the principles were Faith, Hope, and Charity, but this is clearly not so for most Christians, or for what we call the Christian world.”

No more doubts. If you are speaking, you are not speaking loud enough. We cannot hear you. For me, this is the American Church’s last chance to prove itself true to the life and teachings of Jesus. Either raise your voices for liberation or accept your irrelevance.

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