9/15/1963 – the Virus of Violence Came to Church

This is an article written by Carl Chinn, a gentleman I refer to for much of the Safety and Security training I perform at the church I attend.0 His web site is http://www.carlchinn.com/ even before today’s shooting at the Naval base I was wanting to publish something from Carl, today he gave me permission to republish this article he wrote yesterday.

“I wrote of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in my book, Evil Invades Sanctuary. I’ve read of it, studied it and personally walked it. It was the first mass murder (by the FBI definition of 4 or more killed in a single attack) occurring at a faith-based organization on U.S. soil in American history. That was 50 years ago – on 9/15/1963

Birmingham is an awful testament to the racial tension of that era. Some say we haven’t improved our racial views. I do not agree with that statement in any way. We are nowhere close to the kind of vile culture that culminated in that dastardly act.

There were 19 bombings of black churches and black church leader’s homes in Birmingham between 1949 and 1965. 19! We wouldn’t begin to tolerate that kind of cowardice in the U.S. today.

So we have changed. I have changed. But something else has changed as well.

Birmingham stands as the first of 12 such mass murders (at faith-based sites) in the 50 years since. Strangely enough it was the same date – September 15th – but in 1999, that another of those incidents took place (at the Wedgewood Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, TX).

From the founding of Jamestown, VA in 1607 until 1963 (356 years) I find no record of a mass murder at a faith-based site on U.S. soil. Including Birmingham we have had 12 in the last 50 years.

Think About it:
Ø This week will be full of reflections in the media of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. I suspect this will be the only writing that marks it as the start of a bad era of violence at faith-based locations.

Ø What has caused this virus of violence in America written about by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman?[i] Whatever all the reasons are (those suggested by Grossman plus more) they are affecting our churches and bible-based institutions.

Ø Much of the angle we read and hear in other media today about Birmingham will be trying to convince us that we are still a terrible nation of hatred. Frankly that makes me mad. We don’t camp out in the sins of past generations and promulgate unhealthy wounds. We learn and move on. We’ve spent too much time focusing on things that are not a problem and not near enough time focusing on the real applicability of today.

Ø I am much more interested in focusing on how we can use the facts of the last 50 years (starting with Birmingham) to understand how we should be preparing ourselves for this continuing virus of violence.

[i] “On Killing”, page xx of introduction to the revised 2009 edition; By Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.”


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