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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  July 8, 2015 11:30pm-12:01am EDT

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be effectiveness of solar power. jake ward, al jazeera hawaii. >> i'm antonio mora, thanks for joining us, ray suarez is up next with "inside story." have a good night. >> [ ♪♪ ] when racial tensions rise in america, black churches seem to burn. sure some are struck by lightening or have faulty wiring plenty of people believe a burping church sends a potent message. what is it all about. burping black churches - it's the -- burning black churches it's the "inside story".
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[ ♪♪ ] welcome to "inside story". i'm ray suarez. for generations, one way people upset about black aspirations, angry at demand for equality made their displeasure known was by setting churches on fire. during the bloodiest days of racial conflict sometimes there were people inside the burning churches much in more recent years churches burst into flame under the cover the darkness. what does it happen? what are the vandals trying to say? is an assault on a building a reminder of how little things have changed. >> movie reel: exploding on a sunday morning, killing four girls. 196 3 birmingham alabama members of the ku klux klan bombed a church. fast-forward to the 1990s, 60
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churches set ablaze in 18 months a rash of fires leading to the church arson prevention act. >> i want to ask every citizen in america to say we are not going back we are not slipping back to those dark days. >> november 2008 - three white men burnt down a predominantly black church in springfield massachusetts, hours after president obama was elected the nation's first black president. last week - fire fight battle flames at the mt zion a.m.e. church, a predominantly african-american house of worship that the k.k.k. torched in 1995. >> you ride up there. you see the church in flame, it gives you an ill feeling investigators believe this fire was the result of a
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lightening strike. church fires are surprisingly common. the national fire protection association looked at the numbers and found five churches black and white, are set on fire every week. mt zion was the 7th black house of worship in the house to burn in 10 days the causes are still under investigation, whether an strictal problem is believed to be factors for some. >> the fire that gutted this baptist church in scorelot carolina is called arson, and it's expected in the fair at a church the christ and a fire at the adventist church was set. >> those matters are upped investigation -- under investigation. i'm not able to go into a lot. we don't have definitive answers as to how all were started. >> federal investigators are involved and made no conclusions. for the southerners, it's a reminder of a painful past.
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>> the black church has always been the number one target when it comes to the black community. the black church is the strongest institution we have and whenever there's anything for the advancement of african-american americans in this country the leadership came from the black church. >> the fires come in the wake of a massacre at the historic emanuel a.m.e. churn in charleston -- church in charleston south carolina. suspected gunman dylann roof sparked a discussion about race and symbolism, a debate angering southerners with deep roots in the confederacy. this may be from lightning, but i know out of the seven churches it's not all lightening. >> now as investigations continue preachers and parishioners are using the fires to bring communities toot. >> you are not attacking me you are attacking god. he takes it personal joining us the reverend
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dr lafayette chair of the southern christian leadership conflict, and a visiting scholar from columbian university. several black churches that burnt are found to be accidental, not caused by malicious intent but some are under active investigation as arson, not necessarily hate crimes. let me put it as simple as a can - why burn a black church is this. >> a number of reasons. one is - first, to terrorize the community, make people feel vulnerable and fearful and (moralized. also to precipitate copy cats - you know dillon roof said that's what he was trying to do. it's the ultimate expression of derision and evaluation of black
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life, because the black church is the social center of black lives, particularly in rural areas. and this is the ultimate expression of sustain and raw hatred for all black people. they know if it's one black church. they are expressing hatred for all of them. >> you put it in fairly dramatic terms, and it deserves that. is it also a crime that is cheap, easy to commit on a target of opportunity that is often not watched in the off hours. are some of these a cum of opportunity that - the distain that you mention, and that are lazy and don't take a lot of tools or planning. >> yes, there are other things they can do. to specifically target a church
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is you know just raw hate red, disdain, for humanizing a community in their eyes. they specifically go to church. you know what about a school house or something like that. no no no it's not just a tart of opportunity, it is easier for the cow wards. if they had respect for black life at all, they would not do that so they specifically want to target churms. -- churches. >> reverend, there's nothing new about this this has gone before the civil rights struggles of the 50s and '60s. >> that's true. the analysis given in terms of power base - updependent power base and that's what the church represents. in addition to the power, i want to take another angle at this.
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the church, itself also represents the understanding that people who participate in religious service and religious activities have souls. those people who are burning the churches what they are doing is denying the humanity of blacks. and they are also saying that you don't have a soul. and that's the thing that must come out. so the targetting of churches also is symbolic of burning the cross. because that's where you find the cross. in the church. so what they are doing is really emphasising the fact that they have the power and therefore they are condemning the practice of religion on the part of
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african-americans, because they do not accept the fact that these former slaves were actually human beings. >> martin luther king famously called 11:00am sunday morning the most segregated hour in american life. is that still as true today, and if it is does that make it easier to do something like this because the people that you are showing that disdain for are strangers to you. they are not people you identify with, their house of worship is not one that you care for. they are almost foreign in your eyes. >> we are almost foreign in their eyes you mean. >> yes. you threw me off a bit at the end of your question. >> when dr king said 11:00am was
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the most segregated hour. anyone that sets fire to a church they wouldn't accept this as something respected, revered. the people that hold it for whom it's a church home are not those that find the pain of the suffering of worth noting. >> it's true that 11:00am is the most segregated time. to a lesser degree it's true. i have to go back to what broth are lafayette is saying. it's about - it's not just no black people. a lot of folks do not want to know this, is pure hate. i don't know if you ran into it. i have. there's no reasoning, nothing you can do to disprove the hate - i mean to push back into the hatefulness. remember dylann roof sat for an
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hour with these wonderful people fruit of the earth. they are the most general and faithful people that you find in the church. he sat with them for an hour. pelt the humanity and was able to negate them to make them and kill them destroy them. that's what we are talking about. when the people are in churches they might be children but when they burn churches it's about burping our souls. it doesn't matter if it's one church or 100. the only difference is someone else's church wasn't burning, it didn't happen to be there at the moment. it didn't have the opportunity to burn. >> stay with us. for many african-american, the black church is a focal point of the community, are blacks like other americans, moving away from an active faith, making the church less of an impact player. we'll explore it ahead on
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"inside story". >> al jazeera america, weekday mornings. catch up on what happened overnight with a full morning brief. get a first hand look with in-depth reports and investigations. start weekday mornings with al jazeera america. open your eyes to a world in motion. >> [crowd chanting] hell no gmo.
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>> they're slamming a technology that could be used to solve problems for people who desperately need it. >> they get exited about technology whether it's in their phone or in their car, so why is it so weird on their plate? >> something's going into food that shouldn't really be there. >> techknow investigates. >> you could not pay me to fake data. you're watching "inside story". i'm ray suarez. when you saw pictures of a burping church on the news in the days after the charleston church shooting that killed 9 people, and heard of several more, what was your reaction in the days that followed - i can't imagine why this is happening, or here we go again. arson and hate has been ruled out as causes in self of the
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buildings. several others are less clear. we are talking about black churches burning, and there's institutions on the programme in black communities across america. ministers are men and women of honour, churches are big civic players, and black opened and operated institutions culturally independent. particularly social space. the reverend of the southern christian leadership conference and senior fellow at the xunty agenda -- community agenda is still with me. is the church in black america the same institution it was 40, 50 years ago, are we seeing as we are in america at large a growing secularization. >> i think we are seeing people pulling away from the church and they are finding other venues so that they can gather and that sort of thing. particularly the young people.
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when we think about the church and its influence and institutional base it still represents the heart of the african-american community. because, number one, they are still - they still have the ability to act together as a community, and when you talk about power, you talk about voting power. there's no coincidence the past of the church in charleston the pastor was an elected official. that's no coincidence. we have a large number of our representatives come out in the community. and they represent not only the church, but the entire community. the next thing is that music. it will never be replaced in the church. we found a large number of musicianses have their beginning
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in the church. and when we look at the songs of the movement they were church music with movement lyrics. so the lyrics really represented that new social determination, and they are interwoven. when you think about we shall overcome and you think about the lord is on our side those were lyrics that came strictly out of the movement, but they were encased in the church music. young people still listen to church music, even though they don't go to church is some of that organising energy dissipating or is it going to other places or organising around other centers?
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>> well too many black churches are more concerned about institutional maintenance than they are about political involvement. i think that trend is getting worse. we are in a different moment than we were. we were faces with jim crow segregation and terrorism, and leaders who were self-sacrificial and had more at authority. we don't have the same - by and clarnal the same quality ci of the leaders some of them are millionaires. so in that regard the church doesn't present a big threat other than in someone's minds. ask yourself when is the last
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time you heard anything out of them about any kind of issue - police brutality, or anything. that answers the question for me. >> thank you both for joining us. for another view we'll talk to a professor of religion in africa and american studies, who believes the black church is not the focus it once was. he said if black churches are burning, we should ask ourselves what is being attacked. you're watching "inside story". stay with us.
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with welcome back to "inside story", i'm ray suarez burning black churches. eddy joins us chair of the department of african american studies at prince tonne university. good to have you with us. >> it's a pleasure. >> great to have you. is it almost an act of nostal any to burn a black church in 2015. >> i wouldn't say it's an aflent nostalgia, your guests were right in saying it's an explicit attack on black communities and people. it's in alignment with the attack on the sikh temple in wisconsin. consonant with the attack on muslim mosques and communities, it's white supremist to believe
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people of colour are valued less or less than others. how we talk about it is not so much nostalgic, but acronystic. we tend to want to aline it to what happened in the '60s, and '30s, and '40s drawing a continuous line between the burning of churches under those conditions and today's conditions. >> what is the difference or is it really that black churns are, in effect -- black churches sh in effect, departicularized. the mentioned the attack on mosques many sometimes, synagogues have been covered in swas tickas and so on are the black churches becoming more like other institutions that sometimes are the tart of hate. >> -- target of hate. >> that's certainly the case.
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when we talk about 16 street baptiste church in birmingham alabama, it was not attacked faufs a black church it was attacked because it was a staging ground a training space for people who were willing to challenge jim crow head-on. when we talk about the extraordinary march, the children's crusade. they were trained at 16th street baptist church. when we think about going back to 1948, the southern negro youth group wanted to have the distinction at baptist church others were gaoled if they were to speak at a concert, citing a segregation law. the church was not a symbol it was a substantive space where people were organising and mobilizing to challenge white
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supremacy. certainly challenge attacking or burning a symbolic representation of black america. they were challenging spaces where black folk were gathering, mobilizing to invoke what brother lafayette said to challenge the database. today we ask are church's sites where people are mobilizing organising to challenge policies, persons, groups threatening the chances of black voke. >> a moment ago you heard a suggs that itself not that -- suggest that it's not that space any more do you agree with that? >> i heard, he's right, in certain instances, right. when we think of beloved emanuel a.m.e. in charleston it was recently reported that they have to raise $3 million to secure the building. it's decaying, ter mites have infested the building. the steeple is off kilter.
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the church is not, in some significant way, the center of the community. it is a center for certain people within the communities, there are communities been communities. to think of the church as the power base of charleston is to misrepresent its role and place. one of the things i want to say as well is we don't see the burning of megachurches. places where thousands of black folk are gathering. places where prosperity gospel thrives. what we need to do is understand the burping of churches in this moment as an attack of hate on black people where they are most vulnerable. i thought this is what you were trying to get at with your questions. is it the case that churches are easy targets and the populations that inhabit them are easy targets. that's true. what i want to do is insist in a
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little more nuanced way about the conditions of black america. one thing to admit is that black institutional lives are deteriorating. >> let me stop you there. when you say black institutional life is deteriorating, what does that mean and what is the challenge in that. >> what i mean by that is those institutions formed built in the context of jim crow. institutions that were necessary for black folk to flourish whether they were black schools, primary schools, historical colleges and universities that these institutions once so important, like the black press, are now struggling to stay alive. struggling to keep their doors open. and with regards to the black church, they have been decentered. many moving out of urban
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neighbourhoods and the suburbs. if they stay, those that attend more than likely are driving in from the suburbs. they don't have organic relationships. in other wards, the role and function of black churches has changed, right. we need to be mindful of that. there are some churches and ministers out there who are as progressive and politically engaged as you can imagine. i'm talking about dr lesley callahan, and dro fredrik hans. the institutions that were so important to us maintaining ourselves in the face of white supremacy, they are withering on the fine professor, of religion and african fern studies at princeton university. heel be back in a moment with a time thought on what makes a
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church a target for arson. stay with us, it's "inside story".
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churches - especially churches that are home to small congregations are empty much of the time. many churches are locked tight six days a week. for congregations short of cash things like string ler systems, fire alarms security lighting - they are kind of a luxury. no matter your motivations, a church is an easy target. if you burn an empty warehouse, it may not make the news. if you burn a black church your
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vicious act will make national news even if we have no idea why you did it. if your ambitions are grander, if you are angry that people want to push back against historic racial matters, it connects with terrible crimes of the past and says to african-americans, we are not done yet. the church where dylann roof is accused of killing nine people was burnt to the ground before. in retaliation for a slave rebellion. mt zion a.m.e. in south carolina was torched during a waive of church burnings in the 1990s, by a group of clans men. this time it was lightening fight, what insurers would call an act of god. i'm ray suarez thank you for joining us for "inside story".
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all eyes on shanghai china's stock market opening for the first time after the government rushes out emergency measures to stop the slump. >> hello, welcome to al jazeera, live from our headquarters in doha. i'm elizabeth puranam. also ahead - the greeshan government extends closures until monday as alexis tsipras promising reform plans in exchange for a fresh bailout. yemen's government and houthi rebels disagree over the terms


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