I hate upsetting my Christian friends, but many years ago I developed a theory that wherever you see an over-abundance of churches, it’s a sign that there is also an overabundance of wicked people there!

And most are described as the ‘good’ church-going folk.

After living for over half century in the land of my birth, Jamaica, where people have told me many times, that the Guinness Book of World Records singles us out as having more churches per square mile than any other country on the planet, it wasn’t difficult to find evidence that this is so.

Since that theory is always at the back of my mind, I remember with great amusement how, on visiting Sicily, the home of the bloody mafia, on seeing the numerous church steeples around, I immediately started to count.

Covering around three blocks as we walked there, and counting as we went along, after recording around 25 huge structures, I decided that I had better things to do with my time. This was so in contrast with Switzerland (from where we were travelling) with its low crime rate and almost non- existent churches!

My theory came flooding back as I recently visited Charleston, South Carolina, where just around everywhere you turn you see huge church steeples hovering over the city.

I subsequently learnt that because there are more than 400 places of worship of different denominations throughout that city, it was once dubbed “The Holy City.” 

Even the powerful Southern Baptist Convention, (then considered “an institution of heaven”) which is the basis of so much of Donald Trump’s religious support today, had its genesis in Charleston during the 19th century.

Of interest too, is the fact that the most ostentatious church buildings date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when slavery and brutality towards Africans were at their peak!

In 1816, free blacks and slaves, realizing that there was no regard for them in white churches, established the African Methodist Episcopal Church under the leadership of a pastor named Morris Brown.

Naturally, this was objected to by the good white folk, and Brown and other ministers of the church were jailed for violating laws that prohibited slaves and free blacks from gathering without white supervision.

 In 1822, the church was burned to the ground, and the authorities, claiming a slave revolt was being planned there, arrested 313 members of the congregation, and executed 35.

In 1834, all black churches were banned by the authorities.

Undeterred,members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church continued to meet in secret until the end of the Civil War in 1865, when they formally reorganized. 

They adopted the name ‘Emanuel,’ meaning “God with us.”

At that time, the church was a wooden structure.

This is it today.

Interestingly, it is situated on Calhoun Street, named after the notorious John Calhoun (1782-1850), who violently opposed the abolition of slavery and who black Carolinians refer to as Killhoun, up to today.

It was at this church that in June 2015, a white supremacist killed nine people including the senior pastor and a South Carolina State Senator, during a prayer service.

At the funeral on June 26, 2015, President Barack Obama gave the eulogy for the pastor who was killed in the attack and after a moving tribute, sang Amazing Grace.

Today, that area is renamed “Mother Emanuel Memorial District” and a plaque has been erected on the church with the names of all who were killed and declaring their forgiveness of the murderer.

Yup, with a few exceptions, Charleston confirms the theory about religion and crime.

At least in my mind!

One thought on “Religion And Crime

  1. I keep a closed mouth whenever the song above is sung! I decided that I am no
    ‘wretch’ and would not liken myself unto John Newton, writer of the said song, who was an investor in the slave trade!

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