Predominantly Black churches which were burned in the days and weeks following the deadly June 17 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. are receiving help from a coalition of American Muslim organizations.
Three Muslim organizations have joined forces to raise money to rebuild churches in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Georgia. The Muslim Anti-Racist Collaborative, the Arab-American Association of New York, and Ummah Wide have started an online fundraiser called “Respond with Love,” which is taking place during Ramadan, according to Al Jazeera.
“ALL houses of worship are sanctuaries, a place where all should feel safe, a place we can seek refuge when the world is too much to bear,” the campaign’s organizers wrote on their website. “We are calling on you to help add our support to faith communities across the country pooling their resources to rebuild these churches.”
In the five weeks since the Charleston massacre, fires broke out at eight Southern churches. Three have been ruled as arson by investigators, one was caused by lighting and others are currently under investigation, according to Quartz.
The campaign has currently raised more than $23,000 to date; it is scheduled to continue through July 18. The money will be given to the pastors of the churches that needed the most help, Al Jazeera reported.
Although federal authorities have not ruled that the intentional fires were hate crimes, the spate of burnings has raised concern about protecting churches in the Black community.
Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York, said it is hard to look at these fires without remembering the Jim Crow era, a time when Black churches were targets of arson.
“It doesn’t matter to us how these Black churches burned down, we want to help our Black sisters and brothers get back into their houses of worship as soon as they can,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Grio. “Ramadan is a time of giving and what better cause to give to than one that rebuilds houses of worship where God’s name is constantly called, remembered and loved.”
For more information about donating to the “Respond with Love” campaign you can visit their website at: https://www.launchgood.com/project/respond_with_love_rebuild_black_churches_support_victims_of_arson_across_the_south#.