Category : Violence

The Rector of Falls Church Anglican on the DC Riots–we are Called to be Ambassadors of Reconciliation within the World

Dear Church Family,

Taking the necessary time to recoup and quarantine since having COVID has meant Sundays away from you. This has been hard, especially in light of recent events.

What we witnessed at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th, in the wake of a complex and burdensome year, leaves us all emotionally unsettled. Tragically, the violence and destruction of that day only deepened the seemingly intractable divisions in our nation.

We can be sure our Heavenly Father, the Author of Life and Love, despises the death and discord wrought that day. As Christians, we also decry such violence.

I join you in being heartbroken for our nation. I too lament such a sad beginning of 2021. I also join you in asking certain questions: how should the Church respond to something like this? What is God calling us to be and to learn?

Below I offer suggestions for Christian life together at a time such as this, which I hope members of any local church will consider. Prior to that, I want to draw our attention to one idea, or biblical concept, that should shape Christian engagement with the world right now: reconciliation.

Jesus’s first followers were not sent into a docile world. The cultures of Greece, Rome, Israel, and other nations, often clashed. Shortly after Jesus’s ministry, his own people’s imperial city, Jerusalem, and Temple, were sacked and razed by the Romans. In the midst of national and political tumult, we don’t find Jesus’s early followers dividing over preferred political allegiances; we find them instead proclaiming and embodying a universal message of reconciliation—for Jews, Greeks, Romans … for everyone (Gal 3:28). Christian political allegiance was to a kingdom not of this world (John 18:36).

This message of reconciliation was not a secular ideal. It was the message that in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, and that Christians were now ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:16–20). It meant that Christians saw all reality and all people as in need of reconciliation, being re-united, with God.

What might this message of reconciliation mean for Christian engagement with the world following the tumult of recent weeks and months?

First, it means affirming all genuine desires for truth-seeking. Christians do not want matters obscured in half-truths or lies to be reconciled with the crystal clarity of the God Who is Truth. We cheer on truth-seeking and decry dishonesty. We also resist oversimplification, and instead acknowledge the painstaking process of discernment required by the many complex issues of our day.

Second, it means condemning ungodly means of pursuing truth or power. Storming the Capitol, fear-mongering, or any form of violent protests, are irreconcilable with a God whose way was self-sacrifice (Mark 10:45). Christians champion the right use of laws and tools of democracy, that human pursuits of justice would be reconciled with God’s passion for righteousness.

Third, it means that while condemning the violence of January 6th, we are careful not to condemn persons whose politics and opinions differ from ours. Hearty debates and passionate arguments have an important role. However, judging the state of someone’s soul or hurling condescension upon them are irreconcilable with a God who bore patiently with those who rejected him (John 1:11).

In public engagement, a Christian’s attitude and actions should bespeak a desire to see the world, its ways, and its people, reconciled with a righteous, just, and loving God. As you read blogs and engage with others, be asking: are my speech, attitude and aims reconcilable with the reconciling work of God in Christ?

Ambassadors of Reconciliation within the Church
Turning now to our life together within the body of Christ, here are three practices to help us maintain the reconciliation God has purchased for us with one another.

1. Resist Grouping and Labeling Your Brother and Sister in Christ.

Within our church family, people hold differing political views. However, avoid grouping and labeling each other, we are first and foremost brothers and sisters in Christ. The “purposes of a man’s heart are like deep water” (Prov 20:5). Often a conversation over a cup of coffee—rather than a barb over social media—is the appropriate place to discover what’s really going on in the heart of your brother or sister in Christ.

2. Reevaluate Who’s Enthroned in the Temple.

The New Testament teaches that the temple of God is no longer in Jerusalem, but in you! (1 Cor 6:19). God’s unfolding plan does not include enacting his reign through any nation-state, but rather through His Church—the individuals who collectively make up the Body of Christ.

The question for us, then, is who is enthroned in God’s temple? As we pass through turbulent political waters, have you sensed that perhaps false gods have made their way into your temple? Are we, the Church, putting ultimate hope and trust in a country, political party, or preferred leader? Are we conflating our nation’s purposes with God’s purposes? Are we treating political viewpoints like Divine Law? We are responsible for our civic engagement, yes, but we are not counted righteous based on our politics, but rather upon the atoning work of Christ.

3. Use Disagreement as an Opportunity to Practice Jesus’s Teaching to Love Your Enemies.

What if the Church is the very place where we learn “to beat our swords into plowshares” (Isa 2:4), and even dare to love those who differ from us politically? Jesus’s twelve disciples included the pro-Israelite, Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15) as well as the so-called sell-out-to-the Gentiles, Matthew the tax collector (Luke 5:27–28). Jesus called both of these men into fellowship with each other and himself. The local church may be the very classroom God has ordained for us to learn Jesus’ teaching to “love our enemies” (Matt 5:44).

One way to put this into practice, is to focus on your commonality in Christ rather than your differences. In relationships with those who differ on politics or other matters, consider talking more about what Jesus is doing in your life, or perhaps share your testimonies.

Finally, I call our attention to the inauguration on January 20th. We should all join in praying that this will be a peaceful transition of power, that all law enforcement would be secure and safe, and that the plans of any intent on violence would be stopped. We should pray for our incoming President, Joseph Biden, that God would place His hand of blessing and guidance upon him, and give him an unswerving commitment to truth and the wisdom to lead well. I am dedicating time from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening, January 19th, to pray for these matters. Please consider doing so as well.

God has entrusted us, His Church, with the message of reconciliation. Let us be faithful to His call.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Violence

(NBC) Florida Restaurant Manager Saves Boy From Abuse, Police Say

“Flavaine Carvalho, sensing distress from an 11-year-old boy with his family, secretly flashed the boy a note asking him if he needed help. When the boy said yes, Carvalho called 911. The boy’s stepfather faces three charges of aggravated child abuse, and his mother faces two charges of child neglect.”

Posted in Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Violence

(Local Paper) South Carolina human trafficking annual report released

The South Carolina Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force released new numbers from 2020 showing the scourge is not going away and COVID-19 has only made things worse, as traffickers prey on the most vulnerable.

Traffickers look for vulnerabilities and exploit them. Fresh data from the report on how victims become ensnared by traffickers shows most of the time it starts with an ad for a job. Other times the trafficker is familiar with the victim– an intimate partner or the victim becomes indebted by receiving a loan. Soon the victim is coerced, manipulated and trapped.

“It presents a public health and a public safety issue that violates basic human rights,” said Attorney General Alan Wilson at a press conference from the Statehouse on Jan. 11.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Sexuality, Violence

(Wash Post) Boko Haram claims the kidnapping of 300 boys in Nigeria, marking an alarming move west

Boko Haram asserted responsibility on Tuesday for laying siege to a secondary school in northwest Nigeria and abducting more than 300 boys, marking a striking leap from the extremist group’s usual area of operation.

Hundreds of gunmen on motorbikes surrounded the boarding school in Katsina state Friday night and opened fire on police, witnesses said, before rounding up students and dragging them into the woods.

Abubakar Shekau, the group’s leader, said in an audio message released in the early hours of the morning that fighters stormed the school to discourage “Western education,” according to Nigerian media outlets and researchers who reviewed the recording.

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Posted in Nigeria, Terrorism, Violence

(Church Times) Pandemic likely to increase slavery and trafficking, mission warns

The world must act now to prevent a surge in global slavery under the conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic, the International Justice Mission (IJM) has warned today, the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

Covid-19 is exacerbating poverty and the circumstances that cause people to fall into bonded labour and servitude, the IJM, a Christian anti-trafficking charity, has said. Furthermore, the lockdowns that many governments have imposed in an effort to control the virus have led to a marked increase in online sexual exploitation of children, as adults in the West who are restricted to their homes have spent more time on the internet, facilitating the abuse of children elsewhere.

Estimates from the World Bank suggest that 49 million extra people will be forced into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. The IJM said that it had already observed people-traffickers trying to exploit this by offering false job offers or loans to entrap vulnerable people who had lost their income because of the virus.

The IJM’s principal adviser on modern slavery, Peter Williams, said that evidence suggested that certain vulnerabilities were key key, and that these — loss of income, family medical emergencies, isolation — were “characteristic of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on people in poverty”.

In the developing world, public institutions that were needed to combat trafficking and modern slavery — such as local police forces, social services, and the courts — were being put under unprecedented pressure by the pandemic, Mr Williams said.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

([London] Times) Africa becomes new focus for Isis terrorism

Islamic State terrorism is surging in Africa while in the western world the threat from far-right extremists has overtaken that from jihadists.

The 2020 Global Terrorism Index found that despite a fall in the global terrorism death toll for the fifth year running, Africa was suffering a dramatic increase in jihadist violence linked to Islamic State.

“The centre of gravity for Isis has now shifted to sub-Saharan Africa,” said Steve Killelea, founder of the Institute of Economic and Peace which produces the annual index. “Seven of the ten countries with the largest increases in terrorism all reside in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Terrorism, Violence

(Church Times) Faith groups pledge to help end conflict-related sexual violence

A declaration condemning sexual violence in conflict and pledging support for survivors, launched this week, is a way for faith leaders to “shape the sort of world we want to see”, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, has said.

The Declaration of humanity by leaders of faith and leaders of belief was published on Tuesday by the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, which is run by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. It was launched by the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations, and special representative on preventing sexual violence in conflict, Lord Ahmad, to encourage faith groups around the world to help end such forms of violence in their communities.

The latest UN Security Council report says that, in the past decade, 65 parties (50 non-state actors and 15 state actors) have been listed as perpetrating systematic sexual violence across 11 countries. Campaigners have highlighted the continuing suffering of victims through the stigmatisation of both them and any children born as a result of sexual violence. Some of the countries where this has been most prevalent are the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and eastern Ukraine.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said on Twitter on Tuesday: “Sexual violence in conflict is a terrible, scarring issue. The Declaration of Humanity is an important step towards ending it. As we honour the dignity and courage of survivors, let us stop at nothing to protect the God-given humanity of every person.”

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

An update on the safeguarding complaint against the Archbishop of Canterbury

A formal complaint made to the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in June, that the Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow correct safeguarding procedure when responding to an allegation against Smyth, has not been substantiated. The complaint referred to Lambeth’s response to allegations which first came to attention in 2013 and information relating to the specific issues raised has been reviewed. Information relating to a further complaint sent to the NST in August, about wider issues, has now also been reviewed and no safeguarding concerns have been identified. All the information reviewed will now be sent to the Makin Review, due to publish next year, for further scrutiny.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(NPR) ‘Guns, Protests And Elections Do Not Mix’: Conflict Experts See Rising Warning Signs

Members of a Quaker congregation in Maryland are so concerned that President Trump will prematurely declare victory when states are still counting ballots — a process that could take days — that they are ready to take to the streets in nonviolent resistance.

They say such a scenario would amount to a “coup” — even if it involves legal fights and not military action.

“To use the word ‘coup’ in the United States just seems like such a foreign concept when we’re supposed to be this beacon of democracy,” said Alaine Duncan, an acupuncturist and Quaker who lives just outside Washington, D.C. “But it doesn’t seem like we’re being a beacon of democracy right now.”

With Election Day less than a week away, anxiety, distrust and suspicion are running high. Activists and extremists on both the right and left are worried the other side will somehow steal the election, and they’re making plans for what to do if they believe that’s happening.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Violence

(W Post) Nigerian protesters say security forces fired on them, fueling global outrage

Global outrage mounted Wednesday after security forces in Africa’s largest city opened fire into a crowd of protesters, deepening unrest spurred by anger at Nigerian police.

Ten people died and dozens were wounded after uniformed men took aim at demonstrators the night before at a Lagos toll gate plaza, Amnesty International said, a clash captured from multiple angles on social media.

The violence followed two weeks of largely peaceful demonstrations that prompted Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to dissolve the undercover police unit at the center of the dispute and that critics have long blasted as abusive.

But hundreds returned to the streets Wednesday — despite a 24-hour curfew enforced by riot officers — and thousands more joined solidarity marches in other countries, saying past attempts at ending police brutality in Nigeria had fallen short. Protesters in Lagos, a metropolis of approximately 20 million, said they would not stop until wrongdoers in law enforcement are brought to justice.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Violence

(WSJ) France Vows to Root Out Islamist Extremism After Beheading of Teacher Samuel Paty

French authorities vowed to crack down on civic groups they said were promoting radical Islam, days after an extremist beheaded a schoolteacher for showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Monday said that 51 associations, including religious schools and mosques, would be visited by security services this week, and a number of them dissolved. Authorities Monday conducted searches targeting 40 suspected extremist individuals and associations, and have opened more than 80 investigations into extremist sentiment expressed online since the attack, officials said.

“We must stop being naive,” Mr. Darmanin said. “There is no reconciliation possible with radical Islam.”

The actions reflect tensions between parts of France’s Muslim community and authorities in the aftermath of the slaying of the teacher, 47-year-old Samuel Paty, in an attack that shocked the nation.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, France, Terrorism, Violence

(Church Times) Churches must challenge the systems that cultivate modern slavery, webinar in Wales hears

Church communities and people of faith must challenge the systems and structures that have allowed modern slavery to become the fastest-growing crime around the world, a panel of international experts and activists told a webinar hosted by the Church in Wales in advance of Modern Slavery Day on Sunday.

The speakers concluded that it had to be about more than raising awareness of something in which services and products used every day were implicated: manufacturing supply chains, casual labour, and sexual and criminal exploitation. Statutory systems were fragmented and not working well, despite the Modern Slavery Act and the introduction of the National Referral Mechanism, they said; “pitifully small” numbers of perpetrators were being brought to justice.

An estimated 40.3 million men, women, and children worldwide are estimated to be trapped in modern slavery, among them potentially up to 136,000 victims in the UK alone. “We are losing the battle,” the former Bishop of Derby, Dr Alastair Redfern, founder of the C of E’s Clewer Initiative on modern slavery, said. He described it as “the sharp end of inequality”. There was a “massively strange silence” among Christian people, he said, in a climate in which consumers wanted cheap goods and claimed rights without responsibilities.

Awareness was not enough, panellists said. Unity was the greatest weapon against trafficking, said Commissioner Christine MacMillan, who is the founder and director of the Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission, and chairs the World Evangelical Alliance’s Global Human Trafficking Task Force.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of Wales, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Crux) Kidnapped Christians released in Nigeria

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a global campaigner for religious freedom, has called for continued prayers for Nigeria after the release of four students and their teacher who were kidnapped in August.

The gunmen also killed one man and burned down a local church during the raid in the northwestern state of Kaduna. On Saturday, the victims were freed.

“We welcome the efforts that led to their release as we were among the organizations calling for action in their case.” said CSW’s Kiri Kankhwende.

“We must continue to pray for Christians and other vulnerable communities in Nigeria. Pray the children of all communities whose lives have been devastated by violence, and for the safety of Christian leaders, who are increasingly being targeted for abduction, and for wisdom and strategy as they lead their congregations at this difficult time,” she told Crux.

Read it all.

Posted in Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(BBC) Church of England failures ‘allowed child sexual abusers to hide’

The Church of England failed to protect children from sexual abuse, and created a culture where abusers “could hide”, a report has concluded.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse’s report says the Church’s failure to respond consistently to abuse victims added to their trauma.

It added that alleged perpetrators were often given more support than victims.

The Church said it felt “shame” over the failings detailed in the “shocking” report.

The report, which is the latest in a series of publications from the IICSA, said 390 clergy members and other church leaders were convicted of abuse between the 1940s and 2018.

The Church defended alleged perpetrators instead of protecting children and young people from sexual predators, the report added.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Al Jezeera) Sudan to strike peace with rebels after decades of war

Sudan’s government and rebels are set to sign a landmark peace deal in a bid to end decades of war in which hundreds of thousands have died – an historic achievement if it holds.

Ending Sudan’s internal conflicts has been a top priority of the transition government in power since last year’s removal of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir amid a popular uprising.

Both sides are due to sign the deal in full on Saturday in Juba, the capital of neighbouring South Sudan, after putting their initials on the agreement at the end of last month.

The location of the ceremony holds great significance – South Sudan’s leaders themselves battled Khartoum as rebels for decades, before establishing the world’s newest nation-state.

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Posted in Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Sudan, Violence

(Politico) Americans Increasingly Believe Violence is Justified if the Other Side Wins

• Among Americans who identify as Democrat or Republican, 1 in 3 now believe that violence could be justified to advance their parties’ political goals—a substantial increase over the last three years.

• In September, 44 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats said there would be at least “a little” justification for violence if the other party’s nominee wins the election. Those figures are both up from June, when 35 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats expressed the same sentiment.

• Similarly, 36 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats said it is at least “a little” justified for their side “to use violence in advancing political goals”—up from 30 percent of both Republicans and Democrats in June.

• There has been an even larger increase in the share of both Democrats and Republicans who believe there would be either “a lot” or “a great deal” of justification for violence if their party were to lose in November. The share of Republicans seeing substantial justification for violence if their side loses jumped from 15 percent in June to 20 percent in September, while the share of Democrats jumped from 16 percent to 19 percent.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Violence

(Unherd) Justin Webb–Is The American Left looking increasingly extreme?

If you are searching for a view of the intellectual and moral slack the American far-Left is cutting itself, look no further than gentle old National Public Radio. More than a decade ago, when I lived in the US, NPR was genially Left-of-centre, but not aggressively so. Last week it revealed itself to be — in the eyes of many Americans — quite unhinged, publishing an interview with Vicky Osterweil, the author of a book called In Defense of Looting.

Osterweil made two assertions, the first being that looting is justified because it attacks the idea of private property and the world of work: “So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.”

The second is that stealing from shops is part of the wider movement for change in America: “Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police,” she said: “It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that’s a part of it that doesn’t really get talked about — that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory.”

None of this is robustly challenged, and this was not some sociology professor playing with edgy thoughts on campus — it was an interview conducted and disseminated by one of the most important mainstream broadcasters in the USA, a non-profit devoted to ideals of impartiality and truth.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Violence

Bishop Stephen Cottrell: safeguarding statements

Statement from Bishop Stephen

“Ten years ago I was approached about a safeguarding allegation regarding a priest. I was able to see the survivor and begin to hear what was a difficult and harrowing story. However, I was moving between roles at the time and although I did speak with colleagues about the actions that needed to be taken, I failed to ensure that these were properly documented and followed through in the way I would expect. Now that I have discovered that this incident was not followed up as it should have been, I am deeply distressed and extremely sorry. Because this has recently come to light, I am both thankful that it is being addressed properly now, but also mindful that in my new position as Archbishop of York it is absolutely essential that I am open and transparent about the need for the whole of our church to be scrupulously honest with each other about any failings in safeguarding.

“In the past, the Church of England has been too quick to protect its own reputation and slow to admit its failings. This must change. Those in public office should be subject to scrutiny. Good safeguarding is an absolute priority for the Church of England and for me personally.

“In the diocese of Chelmsford where I have served for the past 10 years, I have been helped by survivors I have worked with as well as a first rate safeguarding team to have a much greater understanding of why safeguarding itself is so important and how we must be prepared to confront our failings and learn from them. Therefore, although I am embarrassed that I did not follow this up as scrupulously as I should have done 10 years ago, I want to go on the record about what has happened in order to demonstrate a new spirit of openness and transparency over how we ensure that the church is as safe as it can be, that survivors are listened to and dealt with honestly, and perpetrators brought to justice.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Local Paper) Racism. Violence. A slowly dying son. 5 years after the Emanuel massacre, echoes abound

For five years, they have mourned, then as now, as the country around them grappled with racism and violence.

Parents. Wives. Husbands. Sons. Daughters. They remain bound by the shared loss of nine worshippers at Emanuel AME Church when, on the sweltering night of June 17, 2015, an avowed white supremacist gunned down their loved ones.

For five years, the survivors and families of those who died have traversed uniquely uneven paths through immense grief. Many have found new meaning in different, inspiring ways.

The Post and Courier caught up with several to see how they are mourning against the backdrop of nationwide protests and the coronavirus pandemic — and where they hope America goes from here.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(ANS) UK Politicians Highlight Nigeria’s ‘Unfolding Genocide’

Christian charity Release International has welcomed a new report by UK parliamentarians highlighting the religious element behind much of the growing violence in Nigeria. The report warns of the risk of an unfolding genocide and calls for UK aid to be linked to efforts to protect Nigerian villagers from attacks by Islamist extremists.

Release says the new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide? is the result of an investigation by 100 UK parliamentarians from a wide range of political parties.

It describes attacks on churches and Christians which killed more than 1,000 in 2019. A partner of Release International, which supports victims of violence, estimates 30,000 have been killed since the conflict began in the 1980s. The United Nations put the death toll at 27,000.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Terrorism, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Esau McCaulley–What the Bible has to say about Black Anger

Jesus’ resurrection three days after his crucifixion shows that neither the lynching tree nor the cross have the final say about those whom God values. The state thought that violence could stop God’s purposes. For the Christian, the resurrection makes clear the futility of the attempt. Further, Jesus’ profound act of forgiving his opponents provides me with the theological resources to hope.

Dare we speak of hope when chants of “I can’t breathe” echo in the streets? Do we risk the criticism commonly levied at Christians that we move too quickly to hope because faith pacifies? Resurrection hope doesn’t remove the Christian from the struggle for justice. It empties the state’s greatest weapon — the fear of death — of its power.

Hope is possible if we recognize that it does not rule out justice. It is what separates justice from vengeance. Howard Thurman wrote in his classic work “Jesus and the Disinherited” about how rage, once unleashed, tends to spill out beyond its intended target and consume everything. The hatred of our enemy that we take to the streets returns with us to our friendships, marriages and communities. It damages our own souls.

Christians contend for justice because we care about black lives, families and communities. We contend for reconciliation after the establishment of justice because there must be a future that is more than mutual contempt and suspicion. But justice and reconciliation cannot come at the cost of black lives. The only peaceful future is a just future. And because Christians should be a people for peace, we must be a people for justice even when it seems ever to elude us. Too many black lives have been lost to accept anything else.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Issac Bailey–I’m Finally an Angry Black Man

You see, for a long time I was one of the “good blacks,” whom white friends and colleagues and associates and neighbors could turn to in order to be reassured that they weren’t racist, that America really had made a lot of racial progress since its founding, that I was an example of that progress because of the success I had attained after all I had faced and overcome.

For a long time, I wasn’t an angry black man even after growing up in an underfunded school that was still segregated four decades after Brown v. Board of Education in the heart of the Deep South.

I wasn’t angry even when I watched my oldest brother, my hero, be taken away in handcuffs for murdering a white man when I was a 9-year-old boy. He served 32 years, upending our family forever. Guilt is what I felt instead of anger. It’s akin to the guilt white liberals who go overboard in their efforts feel and are often guided by as they try to appease black people because of the racial harm they know black people have suffered since before this country’s founding.

Mine was a black guilt, a guilt stemming from the knowledge that my black brother had irreparably hurt a poor white family, guilt that helped persuade me to try to make it up to white people as best I could.

That’s why for a long time in my writings, I was more likely to focus on all the white people who didn’t yell “Nigger!” out their windows as they drove by as I jogged along Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, S.C., instead of those who did. That’s why I spent nearly two decades in a mostly white evangelical church. That’s why I tried to thread the needle on the Confederate flag, speaking forthrightly about its origins, but carefully so as not to upset my white friends and colleagues who revered a symbol of the idea that black people should forever be enslaved by white people.

Still, for a long time, none of that turned me into an angry black man….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Bp Mark Lawrence–Standing in the Breach

To stand in the breach, to kneel in the place prayer is to hold all of this in our hearts before God: the young marching in peaceful protest; a looter and burglar fleeing the scene of violence perpetrated by his companion in crime; and all the George Floyds and David Dorns of the world . It is not only to stand in the breach, it is to have one’s heart enlarged. In the words of Edwin Corley, intercession “… is the principle by which praying people allow their own spiritual hearts to become enlarged enough to take on [through prayer] the care of others.” To share in the compassion of Jesus Christ for this world where so many people are like sheep without shepherds. To ask God’s Spirit to address our own “…feelings that have become calloused and remote for most of the people around [us].” May God work in us a deep feeling of love and compassion for His people. So we lift up those suffering from the Covid-19; those working for a vaccine and cure; those burying their loved ones either from the pandemic, the street violence or the normal stuff of life; for those who have lost their business and jobs from quarantine or fire, rioting and looting; for those who continue to suffer the weight of racial injustice; for police officers who risk their lives in their daily round of duty; and those for whom the killing of George Floyd makes the world feel less safe. That may sound almost like a litany. It is—or at least a prayer list. We pray for the light of Christ to come into our darkened world, and after this week of prayer and fasting to show each of us what the next step is, so we might fulfill the promise of our Lord. “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CEN) Bishops take the knee

Bishops across the country led Anglicans in ‘taking the knee’ to mark the death of American George Floyd and to highlight injustice in British society.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Martyn Snow, led others in kneeling for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time that a US police officer knelt on Mr Floyd’s neck.

Bishop Snow said: “I am deeply shocked by the appalling brutality we have seen against black people in America and I stand alongside those who are suffering and peacefully calling for urgent change, as well as committing to make changes in our own lives and the institutions we are part of.

“Structural and systemic racial prejudice exists across societies and institutions and we must act to change that, as well as addressing our own unconscious biases that lead us to discriminate against others.” Earlier this year he led the General Synod in a vote to apologise for racism in the Church.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(NPR) ‘Breathe, Pray, Meditate’: Born From Resistance, Black Churches Now Leading In Crises

As her church distributed masks and hand sanitizer as it does each Friday, the Rev. Traci Blackmon said that black churches “have always been on the bottom rung ladder of all of this.”

“We’ve always had to figure out how to take care of our community, to take care of our neighborhoods and take care of our seniors, even when the economy is booming,” said Blackmon, associate general minister of justice at the United Church of Christ, who leads a church in Florissant, Mo. “So in some ways, we’re ahead of the game with this, because we know how to survive with less, because we’ve always had to survive.”

She said that “the way we are accustomed to being governed in this country is being challenged in ways that it has not been challenged in recent history before.”

“So I think it is all erupting and that makes this moment very different because we are in this moment partly created by a lack of leadership,” she added. “And now we have to navigate this moment without leadership.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

David French–American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go: And the journey must continue step-by-step

So now I sit in a different place. But where do I stand? I believe the following things to be true:

  1. Slavery was legal and defended morally and (ultimately) militarily from 1619 to 1865.
  2. After slavery, racial discrimination was lawful and defended morally (and often violently) from 1865 to 1964.
  3. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not end illegal discrimination or racism, it mainly gave black Americans the legal tools to fight back against legal injustices.
  4. It is unreasonable to believe that social structures and cultural attitudes that were constructed over a period of 345 years will disappear in 56.
  5. Moreover, the consequences of 345 years of legal and cultural discrimination, are going to be dire, deep-seated, complex, and extraordinarily difficult to comprehensively ameliorate.

It’s hard even to begin to describe all the ramifications of 345 years of legalized oppression and 56 years of contentious change, but we can say two things at once—yes, we have made great strides (and we should acknowledge that fact and remember the men and women who made it possible), but the central and salient consideration of American racial politics shouldn’t center around pride in how far we’ve come, but in humble realization of how much farther we have to go.

Moreover, taking the next steps down that road will have to mean shedding our partisan baggage. It means acknowledging and understanding that the person who is wrong on abortion and health care may be right about police brutality. It means being less outraged at a knee on football turf than at a knee on a man’s neck. And it means declaring that even though we may not agree on everything about race and American life, we can agree on some things, and we can unite where we agree.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Violence

(The Week) Damon Linker–Don’t willfully ignore the complexity of what’s happening in America right now

The very least we can do is make a concerted effort to legitimize the pain and anger of African Americans, while defending the constitutionally protected right to protest. But this must also be paired with an unconditional condemnation of looting, stealing, smashing, burning, and destroying lives and property — none of which is protest, and all of which will succeed only in further rending the social fabric while giving would-be authoritarians pretext to crack down in the name of the public good.

If that much proves impossible for us to manage, we will have failed. And in that failure, we will have demonstrated before the world that we did all of this to ourselves.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Bishop Mark Lawrence offers some Thoughts on our Current Cultural Moment of National Unrest–Groanings too Deep for Words

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CSM) With new urgency, parents learn how to talk to kids about race

As an African American parent, Cassandre Dunbar in Charlotte, North Carolina, always knew she and her husband would have “the talk” with their son, the one preparing him for interactions with law enforcement.

But she never dreamed it would be necessary at 5 years old.

“I thought the cops were supposed to help us? Are they only helpful to white people?” he asked after taking in TV coverage of protests and overhearing his parents discuss the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.

Ms. Dunbar explained to her eldest child: “Some people have a hard time understanding that skin color doesn’t have anything to do with what kind of person you are. I said that, yes, cops are meant to help us all, but some cops aren’t good cops and the bad ones really aren’t helpful to people who look like us.”

Many parents of all races are struggling with similar conversations after a week of outrage and sadness that spilled into streets worldwide after video of Mr. Floyd’s death emerged. It came after months of family togetherness in coronavirus lockdown, a time when kids have been cut off from schools and peers.

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Posted in Anthropology, Books, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Violence

(Economist) The grim racial inequalities behind America’s protests

According to the Census Bureau, African-Americans earn barely three-fifths as much as non-Hispanic whites. In 2018 average black household income was $41,400, compared with $70,600 for whites. That gap is wide. In Britain, where race relations can also be tense, blacks earn 90% as much as whites. The American gap is narrower than it was in 1970, when African-Americans earned only half as much as whites. But all the improvement happened between 1970 and 2000, and since then things have worsened again. The black income gap has been eased somewhat by post-covid federal spending increases. But it may soon yawn wider because African-Americans have many of the low- or unskilled jobs that could be most vulnerable to a coronavirus recession.

Income numbers understate the real economic disparities because they only describe people who are in work. According to a study by Patrick Bayer of Duke University and Kerwin Charles of the University of Chicago, a stunning 35% of young black men are unemployed or out of the workforce altogether, twice the share of whites. This huge number seems to be connected with the high incarceration rates of African-Americans: besides those in jail, many have given up looking for work because employers will not offer jobs to former felons. Hence the judicial disparities at the heart of the protests over Mr Floyd also reinforce income and job inequalities.

The wealth gap between blacks and whites is even wider than the income gap.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, History, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence