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Truth is Powerful

Atlanta massacre sparks a political awakening in the Korean church

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DULUTH, Ga. — This month’s killing spree at Atlanta-area spas is pushing Korean American pastors to do something quietly radical: Urge their flocks to get politically involved and rise up against racism against Asian Americans.

Political activism is normally off-limits in the evangelical Korean church. Pastors, many of them immigrants themselves, firmly believe in separating church and state. Politics and protests, they say, are secular matters that don’t belong in the sanctuary.

But this month’s massacre, which killed eight people, four of whom were Korean, is animating the Korean community here. It’s spurring them to act in new ways — reminiscent of the Black church and the role it played in the civil rights struggle. Religious leaders are at the forefront of this nascent movement, agitating for change. And as they look to harness Korean American electoral power in the Atlanta suburbs, their turn toward activism could have lasting implications in a state roiled by rapid demographic upheaval.

Churches can no longer stay silent about racism, said Pastor Han Byung-chul from the Korean Central Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, who recently formed an anti-AAPI hate group in the city with 11 other religious leaders.

“It should be a time that Asian Americans reflect on […]

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