Presiding Bishop’s statement on the way forward from Ferguson

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement on the way forward from Ferguson:

The Episcopal Church joins many others in deep lament over the tragic reality that continues to be revealed in Ferguson, Missouri. The racism in this nation is part of our foundation, and is not unique to one city or state or part of the country. All Americans live with the consequences of centuries of slavery, exploitation, and prejudice. That legacy continues to lead individuals to perceive threat from those who are seen as “other.” The color of one’s skin is often the most visible representation of what divides God’s children one from another.

Michael Brown’s death was and is a tragedy, and has become a powerful witness to those divisions between human beings in this nation. His death also carries the potential to become a sacramental offering – if it continues to challenge us to address our divisions and the injustices in this nation that are far more than skin deep.

This nation was founded with a vision for freedom, a vision that has required repeated challenges in order to move toward true liberty for all the people of this land. Christians understand the sacred vision of the Reign of God as a society of peace with justice for all. May the life and death of Michael Brown drive us toward reconciliation that will shake the foundations of this nation toward the justice for which we were all created. The Episcopal Church will continue to partner and push for racial reconciliation in Missouri and across this land. I ask you to stand with hands extended in love, to look for the image of God in every neighbor, and to offer yourself in vulnerability for the sake of reconciliation across this land. May we become instruments of God’s peace and healing, made evident in communities of justice for all.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Comments

  1. Rosalee Boyle says:

    Dear Bishop Jefferts; I hear what you are saying but this situation is not what our MLK was all
    about. Restraint is important but as a Law Enforcement Officer, Officer Wilson did not do
    anything wrong. Sincerely Rosalee Boyle,

    • I do not read the Bishops message as
      Judgement of the officers actions or Michael Browns.
      Is it not guidance through the conflict when different opinions
      result in violence instead of solutions?

  2. This is a powerful statement. May the hope that Bishop Katharine expresses be realized.

    • JOYCE THOMASc says:

      If Michael Brown had not STOLEN CIGARS in that store, none of this would be in the headlines today. He is the one who created this mess. I am so tired of the whites being called racist – the black people are the racists and are always looking to pick a fight for some reason.

  3. Jane Massey Dionne says:

    Thank you.

  4. Cn. Shirley M. Watts says:

    Thank you Bishop Katherine for your statement on behalf of the Episcopal Church. It is my prayer that all faith groups work together to eliminate racism, discrimination, hatred and violence. May God grant us all the wisdom and courage to strive for peace and justice for everyone.

  5. Dear Bishop, as a deeply concerned and appreciative person and Elder in the United Methodist Church and on the adjunct faculty at Perkins School of Theology , I wish to express my profoundest appreciation of your incredibly appropriate statement for us all—clergy and laity in the Christian Church. I was just thumbing through some things and ran across the memorial service at Northaven United Methodist Church for Bill McElvaney, who had included in that service readings from the Hebrew Bible, the Koran, and the Christian scriptures from representatives of each. God’s reign, indeed, comes often hidden in such perplexities as this, and it can enrich us all if only we have the eyes to see and the ears to her the cries of our wounded sisters and brothers above the clamor and din of every attempt to justify our racial prejudice or profiling of any one of God’s children. Or as Charles Wesley taught us to sing (He (God) never passed by one, else God had passed by me.” Alas. I can only speak for many of us to say thanks to you for your courageous statement and yearn for the day when the Reign of God you mention can indeed become a reality for all of God’s children. Charles Neal.

  6. Brenda New says:

    Bishop Katherine’s words are most eloquently stated and inspire me to be a better person.

  7. Louise hebert says:

    Racism goes both ways. Definitely in this situation. Your church
    Has gone too far left. I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal
    Church. I can no longer tolerate your leftist views.
    Buh bye. Considering Catholic.

    • Dan Allcott says:

      The Bishop’s statement is an incredibly diplomatic statement. It represents the 2 things I value about the Episcopal church, inclusiveness and prayer. These promote discussion, not agreement.
      Good luck with Catholicism – Pope Francis is way more liberal than The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. Not only that, he is young, and wields absolute power.

      Peace be with you

    • Joseph F Foster says:

      Consider the Orthodox Church. Catholic in every sense but no popery.

  8. Lisa C. reich says:

    What about the possibility that the GJ got it right?

  9. Allen Baum says:

    O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
    through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
    human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
    infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
    unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
    confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
    your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
    harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
    our Lord. Amen. -BCP

  10. Doug Desper says:

    Within moments of Michael Brown’s tragic death a familiar framework of race-blaming began: “unarmed teen shot by white cop”. That very tired template is echoed here in the Presiding Bishop’s viewpoints; albeit it’s not unexpected.
    Can we once and for all forget the symbolism over substance? Can we just look at facts? The facts as contained in the grand jury’s deliberative documents were distributed to the press last night. Inquiring and honest minds can read exactly what happened – and everyone (clergy included) should gain that education before seeking to influence anyone on this matter. The grand jury extended its impaneled time far beyond a typical term and 12 people deliberated over facts; not symbols. Facts: Michael Brown is on video harrassing and then assaulting a store clerk while shoplifting cigarellos. Word went out to local police that a person who fit the description of Michael Brown had just committed that crime (body size, color of clothing, color of baseball cap — and yes, a young black man). Officer Wilson heard the description and shortly after saw Michael Brown – who fit the description – walking in the middle of the street with cigarellos in his hand. Officer Wilson called out to Brown, who within moments approached the police car, afterwards reached inside through the car window and subsequently assaulted Officer Wilson. The assault included Brown reaching for Wilson’s gun with shots fired inside the car with Brown dominating over top of Wilson who was seated. He then ran off, and Officer Wilson gave chase for two reasons: 1). a store had been robbed/clerk assaulted and 2). now a police officer had been assaulted with an intent of deadly force during Brown’s reach for the gun. The three autopsies demonstrated that Brown had gunpowder patterns on his hands in a way that showed his hand was near the trigger. Wilson gave chase and Brown turned around and began to charge Wilson in a football tackling posture. Deadly force was called for, and unfortunately it was used – mainly because Brown had assaulted this officer and had gone for his gun while Wilson was seated in the police cruiser. Six eyewitnesses – including three witnesses who were black – corroborated this story. Three autopsies confirmed that Michael Brown was not executed with “hands up”. The whole “hands up” assassination of Michael Brown narrative was begun moments after the shooting and has been used daily by race dividers like Al Sharpton; a man whom the IRS states owes over 4 million dollars in back taxes and has a reputation for inflating and assassinating the truth to his own purposes. Yes, this is tragic. It makes the heart ache that a young man (full of potential) approached life in the way recorded on a store camera and as seen by no less than six witnesses. Hardly a “sacramental offering”. I am ashamed of this Presiding Bishop. While throwing in with the race hustlers like Sharpton over a false narrative of racial division and using words like “justice” she mentions nothing at all of the character assassination of Officer Wilson and the deliberate effort – daily effort – to deny him due justice. Thank God that 12 impaneled people deliberated this day by day for weeks on end with just facts and were not strong-armed by the hyped and misplaced sensibilites of howling crowds and clergy needing significance.

    • Well said, Doug.

    • Martha Jones says:

      Thank you, Doug Desper. How has this gotten to be an issue of race, rather than an issue of whether a young man was attacking a police officer? Before you call me a racist, I marched at Selma, and have attended NAACP meetings, trying to support the MLK movement of peaceful change. Looting and burning is not peaceful change and we all should abhor it, rather than justify it by saying that this is a racial issue. The Bishop does not even mention the fact that Michael might has been doing something he shouldn’t have been doing. I don’t know of any police officer, white or black, who would not have reacted to being physically assaulted by a young man who had just broken the law. My prayers this day are for Michael’s parents, for Officer Wilson, and even for those who loot and burn, that they may find the right answers in their lifetime, and come to know the peaceful love of Christ.

    • Vance mann says:

      Are you capable of understanding the concepts of justice, racism, and cultural differences? Your reflective thinking is mighty small.

      • Robert Ricker says:

        Vance,
        Are you saying that it is part of black culture to rob stores and attack cops? Is that the cultural difference you are talking about? Or are you saying that there is a miscarriage of justice because a black man did not get by with robbing and assaulting? Is it racist to apply the law evenly, no matter what neighbourhood you live in?

        And why did the bishop have to make ANY statement other than to placate her empty headed over the hill flock?

    • thank you Doug. Great commentary. we are so tired of being called racists and linked with the true racists!Another thing there should be quick and immediate response when anyone’s business ,home or private property is destroyed. It should not be tolerated.The police are there to protect us!

  11. Dee Calhoun says:

    Thank you Bishop. I pray that your powerful statements on immigration and racial justice will cause those who have the power to work for good of the whole society will be inspired to act in behalf of the sinned against. I am proud to share your messages with my friends and acquaintances.

  12. I am completely perplexed by the Bishop’s statement. I get a little bit about what she is saying, but this incident is a completely inappropriate one to be used as a jumping off point for a discussion about race relations. The only witness I received from this was that you shouldn’t shoplift, assault a store clerk, violate traffic laws, and assault a police officer multiple times, just for doing his job. She did not mention the riots and arson and theft by his supporters (ye shall be known by the company you keep?). There was no potential sacramental moment here, and so her intentional misuse of the term betrays her lack of theological education and training. A shameful and half-witted response, in my opinion. The Bishop of Kansas had a much more balanced approach in his statement today and was written by someone with a clearer grasp of the reality of this case. Other than that, she did a great job!

  13. Susan Swann says:

    We live in a society that has adopted an outlook of scarcity — we believe that there simply is not enough of what we as human beings need. Love, compassion, justice, even money… there is not enough for everyone. And deep down we suspect that we ourselves are not deserving. So if we recognize the legitimacy of the claims of those less fortunate than ourselves, we risk there not being enough for us; if we admit that the Other is deserving, we give away our own claim. If the poor deserve a home, food, medical care, there won’t be enough for us; if Michael Brown’s parents deserve to have their cries of anguish heard, no one will listen to our own cries. And we have been carefully taught to hate downward — to blame those less fortunate than us for “stealing” that little we might otherwise have a chance to obtain. But God’s love and compassion are infinite — He just needs us to express them, instead of huddling in on ourselves, and gathering in our little tribes of “people like us” to hoard what little we can create for ourselves…

  14. Brad Conners says:

    Bishop,

    I agree with most of your statements about the continuance of racism and racial division in our country. However, I resent your assumption that because the officer was white and the suspect was black, that the officer’s fear was somehow enhanced by the suspect’s race. The officer stopped the suspect because he matched the description of a robbery suspect. The color of his skin played no more of a factor in that than the color of his shirt. The officer’s fear for his life stemmed from the immediate attack launched on him by a MUCH larger full grown adult before he could even get out of his car. The suspect was not armed, but only because he was unsuccessful in his attempt to arm himself with the officer’s gun.

    Race may play into the Ferguson situation on a much broader scale (i.e., Michael Brown’s upbringing, role models, cultural norms, relations between police and communities of color, etc.), and the Ferguson situation hopefully will not be in vain but be a catalyst for necessary conversation and change, but it had nothing to do with the fact that Darren Wilson had every right to stop Michael Brown that day, Michael Brown attacked Darren Wilson before he could even get out of his car, and Michael Brown tried to arrack Darren Wilson again (even after having been shot), ultimately resulting in Brown’s death.

    It is just as prejudicial to assume that Wilson shot Brown because Brown was African-American (thereby prejudging the officer as a racist), as it would have been for the officer to assume Brown was a criminal simply because he was African-American. The difference is that there is physical evidence of the latter, and NONE of the former.

    Again, I hope that conversations and changes occur, but I believe that they must change in communities of color as much as they should in law enforcement.

  15. Robert Coates says:

    I appreciate the PB’s remarks and agree that our work combating racism in America is urgent and far from complete. I would have appreciated also some recognition for American police officers of all races for whom social discord is much more than a subject for rhetorical discourse. While I can grieve for Michael and his parents, I also feel the pain of all the people discharged with the enormous responsibility of protecting all of us, whom at any moment may be forced to make a snap decision with potentially horrific consequences. I know I couldn’t do it. We should pray for Darren Wilson and his family too.

    • Susan Swann says:

      Yes we should pray for Darren Wilson and his family. However, they have the entire weight of what passes for the Missouri justice system on their side, including a prosecutor responsible for the grand jury proceeding, who failed to inform the grand jury with respect to the elements of any crime with which Officer Wilson might have been charged, whose father was a police officer killed in the line of duty, and who has never once in his entire career charged a police officer with any crime involving the use of force. And let’s look at Eric Matthew Frein, a white man who murdered one police officer and critically wounded another in Pennsylvania, and who was brought in alive. Granted, he didn’t steal cigarillos, or jaywalk, or punch a police officer in the face. But the last time I checked, none of those were capital offenses. And police officers bear a great risk, but are also trained to accept a great responsibility in the just use of their power. To whom much is given, from him much is expected. Darren Wilson was given the responsibility to use his power of life and death wisely. He failed. Yet the entire country stands ready to excuse his failure and blame his victim.

  16. Joan Kelley says:

    An unarmed man was shot 10 times by an officer who was more than 150 feet away. How is this not a tragedy? I think the PB hit the nail on the head. Racism is rampant when cities allow Driving while Black stops or when Black’s are questioned about how they manage to live in a nice house or are treated as less worthy than whites. It is that kind of behavior that leads directly to a Ferguson, MO. If we can’t change these situations, who can?

  17. From a friend who is black and was married to a policeman and whose friend was killed by police:
    The death of MIchael Brown in Ferguson this summer took me back to July 1975. For those who knew me then, you know it was the summer when my best friend Riki was shot and killed by a police officer. His friends and others in the city were ready to protest and show his anger. But out of respect for his parent’s anguish and their request, we sat vigil instead. There were similar injustices in our city to Ferguson. We, like the citizens of Ferguson, also waited for a grand jury decision. The office was indicted and convicted. What was the difference? I don’t know all the details so I can’t say. What I know is this – the officer had his version of what happened that day and there was the truth.
    I have also been married to a police officer. I have seen the best and the worst of what it means to be an officer. I also know that almost every situation they encounter can be a fearful one. I also know that sometimes that fear is handled well and sometimes it isn’t.
    I hurt with Michael Brown’s family and friends. I am also angry with the Ferguson police department for allowing a young man to lie in the street for 4 hours while, in my opinion, they tried to figure out what to do.
    To the citizens in Ferguson who protested peacefully and respected the wishes of Michael’s parents, thank you for honoring them.
    We can not live in an America that our fore fathers envisioned with our current attitudes and behaviors. Every institution, starting with our Congress to our police departments, has an adversarial relationship with it’s citizens. Us against them has become a common thread in our government and the way we treat each other on a daily basis. We live in an atmosphere of fear and an illusion of scarcity.
    We claim a nation under God, but we don’t behave as such. We claim liberty and justice for all, but those are merely words on paper when another person’s life, property, and beliefs are not treated with respect and honor.
    May God help us to be who we are called to be and not who we are when we think we deserve to be better than “them.”
    Rhonda Rogers (shared with permission)

    • C. Denise Johnson says:

      After reading the Presiding Bishop’ s statement (again) as well as those from Ms. Rogers, I feel compelled to address the discomfort around any discussion of racism. First, we all victims of racism (and classism) from the founding of this nation; READ the Declaration and the Constitution and if you can allow yourself to read what is written, you’ll see that although all men were created equal, they were not treated accordingly. In fact, if you were not a male landowner you would not be allowed to vote. My point in all of this is to say that we (all Americans of all ethnicities) are reaping the harvest sown by separation in all of its virulent mutations. We all collectively suffer because we regard the “other” with an innate suspicion that has nurtured for centuries; and NO ONE is immune. If we would all have the courage to pray for God’s grace to open our hearts, minds and souls, and remove the veil of inequality and distrust from all of us, and recall that we are all reflections of our one common Creator (who is not limited to only one shape or shade or ethnicity), then we will be able to see that we can do so much more good together to better EVERYONE, not just a select few. Stop approaching this dialogue through fear and use it to heal and love each other as we love ourselves!

  18. John Edmondson says:

    I question whether we would have even heard of this whole affair if the police officer had been black. I suspect that it would have been just another crime story buried in the news media, if heard of at all.

  19. Vance mann says:

    John, I doubt the suspect would have been shot if he had been white.

  20. Gail Patty says:

    You lost me on “sacramental offering.”. I must respectfully agree with an earlier comment that there was nothing sacramental in the death of a man whose intent was to harm or kill another human being. The only way this tragedy can inspire meaningful, impactful, and ongoing dialog would be if Michael Brown’s parents, given the evidence in the case, ADMITTED their son had strayed far from a Christian path. It would be impactful if they ADMITTED his actions and tragic decisions resulted in his demise. Michael Brown’s parents have a golden opportunity to warn every parent and teen in America that drugs, alcohol, gang activity, and crime are the wrong choices, regardless of one’s color. If there is to be a dialog, let it start with the Browns, the Church, the media, and the policymakers urging people of all races to rebuild and refocus on American families and family values: Love of God and your fellow man, respect for the law, going to and staying in school, marriage before children, and achieving personal financial independence through hard work and thrift. If you start there, the race issues take care of themselves.

    May the Peace of the Lord be with you.

  21. Frank Brown says:

    I urge everyone to remember that we are discussing ideas, not each other. If we disagree, it ought to be because we object to an idea under consideration, not the person who voices the idea or objects to it.

    The PB is an a position the rest of us can only imagine. Her obligations are to those of us within the church and also to those outside of it.

    I urge us all to be very wary of responding to Mass Media when we– the Church– should be leading. “Ferguson”– whatever it may “mean”– is defined in our thinking by the Mass Media. The nation is discussing Ferguson in terms of race because that’s how it was framed when it was presented to us in the first place. Much of the suspicion of the motives of people protesting is that they appear to be manipulated by an organized campaign for raw power, although I’m sure most of them sincerely have the best of intentions. Al Sharpton is a race baiter who has made a career of inciting low information voters.

    Issues of race can ring hollow because they seem to run in one direction only. The Mass Media did not frame the case of Hannah Graham in terms of race. No one responded with violence and calls for “racial justice” or “justice for Hannah Graham,” as if the word justice could survive such qualifications. The stomach-turning fate of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom were not framed in terms of race either. In fact, few people outside of Knoxville have even heard of it. But the magnitude of that case should have made it headline news everywhere.

    A necessary component of racial reconciliation is to start from a position of factual honesty with one another. The Mass Media is not a source of Truth, and we cannot be successful in our efforts to promote Christian reconciliation by falling under its sway. Let us all pray to God for a solution to our massive social problems.

  22. C. Denise Johnson says:

    To those who are uncomfortable with the remarks of our Presiding Bishop, might I suggest that you take a look at the Episcopal Church’s longstanding commitment to eradicate racism (they are available at http://www.episcopalarchives.org ). I would also suggest that you sign up for “Seeing the Face of God in Each Other,” an anti-racism workshop that Church clergy and laity are strongly encouraged to attend and address the sin of racism.
    As a member of the Anti-Racism Ministry of Province III and the Commission on Racism and Reconciliation of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, I can share some of the responses of participants who now realize how the centuries of lies affect all people. They come away with the knowledge that everything isn’t all black and white; there’s lots of grey areas to be addressed. Learned behaviours, particularly those viewed as “the norm” can be modified. In other words, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

    Dona nobis pacem.

  23. Jim Frodge says:

    The statement made by our Presiding Bishop and others portraying the Michael Brown incident as a racial incident is stunningly naïve and can only come from a preconceived ideology and a total disregard of the facts.

    Let me start by saying that I was clergy prior to becoming a police officer in a metropolitan area for 27 years. I have learned to draw conclusions from facts and to not draw conclusions and then search for something to support that conclusion. A grand jury of mixed race and gender conducted an exhaustive investigation of this incident. I say this as one who has taken the time to look over the grand jury report that is posted online. The grand jury aggressively questioned witnesses and questioned the chief crime scene detective three times to ascertain facts. The prosecutor outlined to the grand jury four different charges that Darren Wilson could be indicted for and the grand jury found no probable cause to return any indictment. Those are the facts. Michael Brown had 24 nano grams of THC in his system. In plain terms Michael was under the influence of marijuana when this incident happened. Michael Brown was video taped committing a robbery in a convenience store and assaulting a store clerk. Minutes later Darren Wilson saw Michael Brown and recognized him as the robbery suspect. When Wilson attempted to take Brown into custody there was a struggle and Wilson’s gun discharged. Forensic evidence including blood evidence and gun powder residue showed that the struggle happened while Wilson was still in his cruiser and indicate that Brown’s hand was on Wilson’s gun when it was fired. These are facts based on forensic evidence and witness statements contained in the grand jury report. Brown then walked away from Wilson who followed him ordering him to stop. Brown then turned and advanced on Wilson, ignored repeated commands to go to the ground and then rushed Wilson who then fired the fatal shot. These facts are contained in witness testimony contained in the grand jury report. I would note that no less than 6 people testified that Brown was advancing on Wilson when he was shot and killed. Three of those witnesses were African American. Those are the facts.

    There is no sacramental offering in this incident. There is no racial component to this incident. I have walked in Darren Wilson’s shoes and I can tell you that based upon the facts Darren Wilson acted properly. Darren Wilson had a split second decision to make a decision that others who trust in their perfect hindsight find fault with.

    This is a media driven event with the usual cast of characters getting television air time to spout their ideology while ignoring facts. Unfortunately we see some of our own clergy being drawn into the media circus. It would be far more useful to view this as a teaching moment where parents teach children that using drugs, committing robberies, resisting arrest and attacking police officers are all acts that are contrary to God’s will and teachings.

    • Fr. Will McQueen says:

      Thanks Jim. This is one of those unfortunate situations when facts don’t fit the preconceived narrative and therefore the facts must be faulty. This is endemic of our society as a whole. Also, thank you for your service in Law Enforcement.

  24. Stephen J Waller says:

    Thank you, Bishop Shori.

  25. Tess Testeza says:

    Thank you, Doug Desper, Officer Frodge, Rich Basta, Gail Patty, and Fr. Will McQueen, for having the courage of being “politically incorrect” and speaking up the truth which we all know! To those who think that your opinions are based upon racism:
    Please read “Thoughts on Ferguson” by the African American pastor Voddie Baucham. On http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/thoughts-on-ferguson that BLACK pastor wrote: “Moments before his death, Michael Brown had violently robbed a man in a store. A man doing the best he could to make a living. Minutes later, Brown reaped what he sowed, and was gunned down in the street. That is the sad truth.”
    Maybe, if the Presiding Bishop had read this, she would not have called the death of Michael Brown “the sacramental offering.”

  26. Greg Byron says:

    Everybody should believe in something. I believe I’ll have another drink.

  27. Cynthia Elias says:

    Thank you Bishop for your courage to speak out on the issue of embedded racism in this country…a legacy this country inherited to justify the evil of the slave trade (miney and profits). Sadly by scanning through previous comments, many cannot see past thenselves. The young man killed was not from that area and did not know how oppressed that town was with the overwhelming institutional and systemic racism and despair. Actually in 2 days he would have been out of there and in college. This is so beyond one police officer…this about misdirected anger and frustration all around with minorities as easy targets because they are dehumanized like “undeserving victims”….i wonder if your readers considered his parents who were so proud of him; planned to drive him to college and to a future.
    So thank you for your honesty, and it would be nice that other church leaders in other denominations step out and support your statements.

  28. Ms Schori,
    It’s not every time that Obama makes a speech that you’re going to start making yours.
    Politically speaking as yoyou are, to me, it’s just a little town that makes bad choices for themselves. No other cities, no other towns, no other states are responsible for this. Open your eyes.

  29. We’ve come full circle in this country since the mid-sixties; the nation integrated our schools, struck down laws that forbade whites from marrying blacks–and even a bit earlier, allowed blacks to drink out of the same drinking fountains with whites. During that period of time it also became a federal offense to lynch a person of color. Separate, it was declared by our courts, was not equal and being a leftist (whatever that is) was not considered to be a crime after Senator Joseph McCarthy finally fell from grace. We’re, on the surface, more integrated than ever before: black baseball players (thank you Jackie Robinson), black football players, judges, senators, etc., etc., but we still–all of us, find ourselves a bit uneasy when it’s a dark night on the street and we find ourselves in the middle of a crowd of people–rich/poor, black/white, male/female/transgender, who look and act different from ourselves. One angry word, one aggressive move, and fear can kick in high gear when we don’t know what to expect. Add a little gunpowder to the mix, bring in a TV camera, and we’re off and running all over again. I was on campus at Ohio State when the governor brought in the National Guard to both OSU and Kent State, to protect the non-protesting students from the protestors. Ironically, things went wrong and five non-protesting students were shot dead by our own National Guard. What to do? Better train our police, screen out angry prejudices and deep seated fears, teach everyone to respect the police–that comes to those who fairly and equally apply our laws. There can be no peace without justice, and there can be no justice without mutual understanding and respect..

  30. William A. Flint says:

    As I said before:
    The Episcopal Church is diverting attention away from the true meaning of Advent to make yet another political statement. As sad as the Michael Brown incident is, he broke the law. If we advocate that there is a sense of injustice about lawlessness, then we have already lost the argument . There are numerous conversations that can come from Ferguson, but advocating that “breaking the law and respect for law enforcement” is not one of them. If you want a dialog, let’s discuss the shooting deaths of Andy Lopez, 13, in Santa Rosa, CA and Tamir Rice, 12, in Cleveland, OH. Both were shot for carrying toy guns in public places. Let’s make our cause about the senseless loss of innocent life. Let’s dedicate ourselves to understanding how sin affects our common life. Let’s not second guess a Grand Jury’s decision in Ferguson. The Episcopal Church deserves better than that.

  31. Stephgen Denney says:

    It is tragic that a man should die so young in such a senseless way. The loss is immeasurable. But what if Officer Wilson was telling the truth? What if he did fire in self-defense? The testimony of witnesses is conflicting but the forensic evidence supports Wilson. Nevertheless, his career as a police officer in Ferguson is over, and it may not be feasible for him to resume a law enforcement career anywhere else. He has received many death threats and may have to spend the next few years or more in hiding. Our religious leaders are angry that he was not indicted, even if the evidence was insufficient, and attribute the grand jury’s failure to indict to racism. And they have nothing to say for Officer Wilson. I thought liberals championed the rights of the accused, but apparently not in this case.

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