A spate of church burnings in America has prompted faith leaders to lead a Week of Righteous Resistance (WORR) in the hopes of raising awareness of white supremacy and structural racism across the US.
Using the Twitter hashtag #ThisIsWORR, there will be a number of events taking place from July 12-18 including peace walks, a march in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and teaching on the civil rights movement. There will also be the opportunity to donate money to four predominantly black churches damaged by recent fires: Glover Grove Baptist Church, College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church, Briar Creek Baptist Church and God's Power Church of Christ. The cause of the fire at Glover Grove is as yet undetermined, but police have confirmed the other three were deliberately started by arsonists.
"One of the goals of these organizing efforts is to resist white supremacy in the South and across the nation and to call attention to racial injustice that continues to pervade across our country today," Rev Dr Mae Elise, one of the organisers of the WORR, wrote for the Huffington Post.
Elise quotes Michael McBride, lead pastor of The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, California, and another key organiser. Faith leaders must respond clearly and quickly, McBride says, to address the "stunning brazenness and subsequent complicity of the American church sustaining and making possible the sin of white supremacy and structural racism...[and] the cumulative impact of the police shootings, Charleston, black church burnings, and daily micro-aggressions" towards the black community.
The shooting at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, last month re-stoked the conversation about race relations in the US that has been gaining traction in the wake of debates regarding police treatment of black people.
Fires at at least seven predominantly black churches then instigated the hashtag #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches. Though two incidents have been blamed on an electrical fault and lightening strike respectively, many fear that the black community is being targeted amid increasing racial tensions.
The This Is WORR website brands the church burnings "very suspicious" and calls for "a series of actions that create opportunities to encounter, disrupt, reimagine and act together in public" in response.
The week of events is being held in partnership with several faith organisations, including Sojourners, the Live Free Campaign and Evangelicals for Justice.