What the Louisiana Church Burnings Reveal about Race in America

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Race colors the very fabric of America. It punctuates our social, national, political, and religious life. Recently, in my home state of Louisiana, a 21-year-old white male set ablaze three historically Black churches in Port Barre and Opelousas in St. Landry Parish. This violence initiated yet another moment of public reflection and reckoning.

Fire consumed St. Mary Baptist Church on March 26, Greater Union Baptist Church on April 2, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church on April 4 — the date of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 assassination. And where are we 51 years after Dr. King? The resounding answer is clear: nowhere near being a “more perfect union.” The race- and hate-based burnings of these historic African American churches in the current moment — not in some distant or elusive racist past — teaches us much about race, and religion, in America.

A precarious relationship has…

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