In 2015, Charleston, South Carolina was the scene of a horrific mass shooting. Nine people were killed when a 21-year-old white man opened fire on black church members holding a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Race was at the core of his attack. But the event, which was aimed at starting a race riot, actually brought the community together.
Sen. Tim Scott (R – SC) recalled that sad time on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, but he noted prayer actually brought the Charleston community together.
“Our community came together through prayer,” he explained. “A lot of folks say prayers don’t matter but I will disagree with them. Because of prayer the nine family members forgave the shooter and brought unity to our state in ways that we have not seen in the history of the state frankly.”
When asked about the challenges of forgiveness after such a shocking event, he said, “The Civil War started in Charleston and to have a white racist walk into a black church to start a race riot — to have the opposite occur because of the power of faith in that church, in our community, was fantastic and phenomenal.”
Scott explained how the Charleston community has become more unified since the tragic event.
“Walking out of that situation, what we started doing was meeting and talking and finding out where the differences were so that we could challenge ourselves to overcome those differences and we did something that I thought was incredibly important,” he said.
“When we’re looking for ways to address the challenges that our nation is seeing all over the place, we must take individual responsibility and speak up when we hear something,” he added. “Silence in and of itself is a part of the challenge. So we must speak up when we see things that are out of place, when we hear things that are inconsistent with that.”
Scott also discussed the nation’s current atmosphere of hate and hostility and how President Trump is affecting it.
“This is a issue of human hate something that resides in the heart and that is actually, unfortunately because of social technology and the social media we’re seeing it connect it to other folks who have hate in their heart as well,” he continued.
The story of the forgiveness that took place in Charleston was recently told in the documentary Emanuel.
The film examines how hope and faith are emerging out of one of the darkest moments in recent American history.
“The documentary highlights how a horrible tragedy can bring a community together and spreads an important message about the power of forgiveness,” Executive Producer Stephen Curry said. “I hope the film inspires others like it does me.”
To find out more about the documentary, click below.
They Chose ‘to Love a Murderer’: EMANUEL Doc Shows Power of God After Church Massacre