In case you don’t watch television news and might have missed it, the video of Charleston mass murderer Dylann Roof’s first court appearance is below. Most of the victims’ families were in the courtroom to tell Roof they forgive him.
Forgiveness, as taught by Christian religion, is not so much for the person forgiven as for the victim to help them deal with their grief and misery over what the sinner did to them. It is as if the failure to forgive is to be victimized a second time, to fall prey to insensate vengefulness.
This is an aspect of Christian religion that I neither admire nor practice. To extol forgiveness indiscriminately and without proper examination is, on the one hand, groveling and servile to a monster who has committed the unforgivable act of taking innocent human life. It’s also weepy benevolence in the face of the hard-edged truth that Dylann Roof sat for at least an hour with a group of people who welcomed him into their Bible study class in an historic African American church. Then he rose up, pulled out a Glock 21 and heartlessly murdered nine of the people who had befriended him in what they must have believed was Christian fellowship. The 9 dead ranged in age from 26 to 87.
Compassion does not require forgiveness of wrong in every case. Forgiveness should be asked for before it is given. In this case, the people from whom Dylann Roof must seek forgiveness cannot grant it because they are gone; he killed them. Their families have asked God to have mercy on his soul. If there is such a thing as a soul, Dylann Roof doesn’t have one. If hell exists, that’s where he belongs. That, to my mind, is the proper moral judgment for Dylann Roof.
Here is the video of his first court appearance: