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Korean Church Takes On Racism, Politics, Police After Atlanta Massacre

Korean churches firmly believe in separating church and state, but racism, violence and a brutal massacre of Asian people have pastors saying it’s time to speak out.

Eight people were murdered in the Atlanta spa killing spree, and half of them were Korean. Church leaders now see that they must join forces to combat rampant racism and dangerous hate crimes while also promoting the needs of their community.

Pastor Han Byung-chul from the Korean Central Presbyterian Church of Atlanta has formed an anti-AAPI hate group in the city along with 11 other religious leaders, and Pastor Choi Byung-ho, president of the National Caucus of Korean Presbyterian Churches, is helping pastors around the country to incorporate anti-racism messages in their sermons.

“It should be a time that Asian Americans reflect on their indifference and irresponsibility,” Han said in an interview, using language striking for its rebuke of his fellow Asians. “This is an awakening moment for Asian Americans.”

Ultimately, these bodies know that the only way to enact lasting change is through policy, and they are challenging police and local governments to make concrete moves.

(via Politico): Law enforcement must improve both the way it tracks hate crimes and the way those crimes are prosecuted, Pastor Michael Lee of All Nations Community Church in Bellevue, Wash. said. But that can only happen by ensuring all police departments carry a hate crime unit, which can help expedite the investigation of these incidents. He also emphasized the need for oversight committees to monitor law enforcement's handling of hate crimes.

Korean churches are beginning to follow in the footsteps of Black churches in this country, but it will be a process to get older and first-generation Korean Americans on board. While American Blacks have been dealing with slavery, blatantly racist laws and more for over 400 years, Korean culture has traditionally kept them relatively quiet until now. While they have faced racism in the U.S. over the years, the depth and breadth spiked sharply as the coronavirus shut down the country.

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