President Donald Trump recently signed a bill that allocates $375 million over five years to synagogues and other houses of worship, as well as additional other nonprofits, to help protect themselves against terror attacks.
This is certainly good news for some, but we must make sure it is good news for all. So often when with the word ‘’other,’’ is used: WATCH OUT. The “others” are often the left out, the not cared about, the also ran, the least of these. In fact, ‘’Other” is a holding place reserved for black and brown Americans in this white White House. So, the question of where black churches fit is valid.
The bill signing in the East Room would substantially increase the funding for the Nonprofit Security Grants Program, allowing houses of worship to apply for $100,000 grants to be used for things like fencing, cameras, stronger doors and the hiring of security professionals. The bill passed both Houses of Congress.
This legislation, which is being praised by Jewish leaders nationally and globally is well deserved and it comes at a critical time as attacks on Jewish citizens and synagogues have been increasing, most notably two separate synagogue shootings occurred in Poway, California, in April and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in October 2018.
Nevertheless, in this politically fractured environment, black pastors and churches must not be overlooked in this funding, especially since crimes against black churches also have been spiking tremendously.
Most remember the 2015 shooting of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white supremacist who gunned them down after quietly listening to their Bible Study.
But there have been hundreds of others before and since then. As reported in the Atlantic Magazine, Congressional hearings were held in 1996 at the end of a two-year period when arson attacks hit across the southeast. In South Carolina alone, black churches that suffered probable arson attacks included Mt. Zion AME Church in Williamsburg, Macedonia Baptist Church in Manning, Saint Paul Baptist Church in Lexington, Rosemary Baptist Church in Barnwell, St. John Baptist Church in Dixiana, Effington Baptist Church, Mount Olivet Baptist Church, and Allen’s Chapel. One member of Congress likened fire-bombings in those years to “the return of a biblical plague.”
Most recently three black churches in rural Louisiana were victims of arson, and the young white man who set the fires was accused of a hate crime. No doubt other races have also experienced these vile acts.
Nevertheless, in an environment where the President, himself, has showered blacks with hateful words, such as “S.O.Bs, ’’and claimed they came from “S…hole countries, it cannot be taken for granted that any funds coming from the White House would aid blacks, unless they fight for it.
And even if they do apply and fight for the funds, they must be cautious of the strings attached because many church leaders are already being criticized for being afraid to criticize Trump for his war against people of color. So, if the funds will only increase their silence, that is something not to be hoped for.