Like many of you I’ve been watching the unfolding news these last few weeks and even months with a growing pit in my stomach. The racial divide was deepening. It was becoming increasingly apparent to me that certain sections of people are treated differently by our systems.
The very public deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and now Eric Garner, have intensified my feelings that our public safety systems are compromised and are not only not working, but in some ways, are becoming instruments of increased militarization, systemic racism, and sanctioned violence that stand against the very values and citizenship I hold dear.
I can’t explain my feelings any better than what Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore said in a recent statement:
“I’m stunned speechless by this news. We hear a lot about the rule of law—and rightly so. But a government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice. We may not agree in this country on every particular case and situation, but it’s high time we start listening to our African American brothers and sisters in this country when they tell us they are experiencing a problem.
For those of us in Christ, we need to recognize that when one part of the Body of Christ hurts, the whole Body of Christ hurts. It’s time for us in Christian churches to not just talk about the gospel but live out the gospel by tearing down these dividing walls not only by learning and listening to one another but also by standing up and speaking out for one another.”
While Michael Brown’s death was complicated to me with conflicting testimony and ambiguous actions, I am still sickened that an officer’s only perceived recourse was to shoot a suspect dead. And while others remind me that 12-year-old Tamir Rice was indeed “brandishing” his fake gun, I am still shocked that a video of the incident reveals not even a second delay to asking the boy to “drop it” before he is shot dead. And truly I have nothing but tears as I watch Eric Garner suffocate, placed in a choke hold for reasons that completely elude me.
We are better than this. Our police departments, our justice system, our moral compass is better than this. For all of our sakes it must be better than this.
There is a movement among faith leaders in Chicago to invite their congregations to stand alongside a hurting body and a hurting country by leaving their houses of worship THIS SUNDAY, December 7 and walking together in solidarity with those who are suffering. The leadership of LaSalle Street Church – our staff, Elder Board and others – invite you all to join us.
As many who desire will sing our last hymn and then exit onto LaSalle Street. We will walk peacefully, intentionally and prayerfully south to Ontario Street where we will turn around and return to the church.
We will speak the psalms of lament and sing the songs of praise. We will talk and listen. We will simply walk. We ask everybody who is interested to join us, No coercion or pressure.
What do we plan on accomplishing? We are showing those who live in fear that we stand with them. We are showing those in power that we are paying attention to this. And we are reminding ourselves that we are one body in Christ. All of us. We stand together.
Join us. 12:15, December 7, 2014, 1136 N. LaSalle, Chicago, IL.