“We all did it.”

charleston victims

With Jesus are: Susie Jackson, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr., Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lee Lance, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, and state senator, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Yesterday morning my pastor, Keith Doane, of Crossroads Community Church, tied his preaching of Exodus 20 with the murders in Charleston. He reminded us of an article written two years ago about an event that occurred fifty years ago.

On September 15th, 1963 a bomb was thrown into a Black, Birmingham, Alabama church. Four little girls were murdered in that attack.

The Atlantic article of September 13th, 2013 told the part of the story which is often overlooked. [1]

Charles Morgan Jr., a young, white lawyer, born and bred in Birmingham, gave a luncheon speech within hours of the bombing. The speech immediately brought death-threats to he and his family. But his words then are words we should hear again today

Four little girls were killed in Birmingham yesterday. A mad, remorseful worried community asks, “Who did it? Who threw that bomb? Was it a black or a white person?” The answer should be, “We all did it.” Every last one of us is condemned for that crime and the bombing before it and a decade ago. We all did it.

“We all did it.”

Who is the “we?” Morgan continued by saying the “who” is

[He who] spreads the seeds of his hate to his neighbor and his son. The jokester, the crude oaf whose racial jokes rock the party with laughter. The “who” is every governor who ever shouted for lawlessness and became a law violator. It is every senator and every representative who in the halls of Congress stands and with mock humility tells the world that things back home aren’t really like they are. It is courts that move ever so slowly, and newspapers that timorously defend the law. It is all the Christians and all their ministers who spoke too late in anguished cries against violence. It is the coward in each of us who clucks admonitions. . . .

But Morgan did not stop there. Hear, hear, his final words.

 And who is really guilty? Each of us. Each citizen who has not consciously attempted to bring about peaceful compliance with the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, every citizen who votes for the candidate with the bloody flag, every citizen and every school board member and schoolteacher and principal and businessman and judge and lawyer who has corrupted the minds of our youth; every person in this community who has in any way contributed during the past several years to the popularity of hatred, is at least as guilty, or more so, than the demented fool who threw that bomb.

“We all did it.” Charles Morgan Jr.’s speech should stop us in our tracks.

Racism, the sin that pulled the trigger killing nine believers, sin of the human heart, can be found in each of us, if we are honest. “We all did it.”

There are no alternative explanations. There are no other excuses, pointed fingers, or blame-shifting.

Our sin does not have a sociological explanation.

The only explanation is theological. We are sinners. We need a savior. “We all did it.”

There is only one answer. There is only one hope. There is only one response.

“I forgive as I have been forgiven” because

“HE DID IT” (Colossians 2.13-15).

Mark has shed many tears for his extended church family in South Carolina this week and stands behind Gary Varvel’s heart-wrenching, truth-telling editorial response from the Indianapolis Star:


[1] The words recorded here in italics is a content adaptation of The Atlantic article.

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  1. Thank you, Mark, for sharing these insights and the reminder from 50 years ago about the tragic incident in Charleston. It’s important to help us understand and to act in response, rather than be paralyzed by fear, sadness, or shock.
    Oh, how we grieve for this loss, but praise God the victims and the rest of us have an eternal and certain hope with the Lord! Take care, brother. Steve

  2. My Thoughts:
    I’ve been reading report after report about the massacre at Charleston. Christian media, such as an article at asks the question, “What the Charleston Church Massacre Says About American Culture?” This, like many articles, use this tragedy in Charleston to “spiritualize” and pontificate on various subjects from “pervasive darkness in the nation” to a “wake up call” to the entire church. As I learned in journalism class a long time ago, do not “bury the lede” — meaning do not side step the true story. Christians have to stop blaming the devil for everything, so long as people have the power of choice. We also have to stop placing any burden on victims in the wake of tragedies, and keep 100% of the focus and pressure on perpetrators, sympathizers, and others at risk to commit the same behavior. We need to try to prevent racist attacks by dealing with racists and racism through prayer, intervention, and education.
    We must not forget, nor be made to focus on, anything other than the ACTUAL CAUSE of the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and related incidents. The cause was RACISM by an avowed racist against African Americans.
    If we are serious about ending the scourge of racism in our nation, we need to ask hard questions such as: What kind of lifestyle, associations, philosophies, social media tendencies, parenting, etc., enable a boy like Dylann Roof to grow up wanting to kill black people? Why didn’t someone who witnessed his tendencies report it or seek intervention?
    We can only commend and honor the people of Emanuel AME and families of victims for showing the nation their faith and resolve to forgive. However, this is NOT A REASON for us to shift our focus away from the ugly problem that stares at our nation—-hatred, brutality, and racism against black people needs to end. (I know there are other problems, but I’m focused on this issue here.)
    We have WORK to do in the Name of Jesus, not just WORDS to say.
    Rev. Bryan Hudson

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