When it comes right down to it, Anabaptist Christians can never justify siding with the police over a civilian. We are pacifist. It is a fundamental tenet of our faith that there is always an alternative to violence and that, as people of faith, we ought to seek it. When it comes to police ethics, we begin with a hermeneutic of suspicion. That is, theologically–as pacifists–it is in our outlook to approach every officer-involved shooting with a healthy skepticism to doubt whether the officer was justified. If what we know of the situation is that the officer used a gun, it is morally consistent for us to assume the officer should not have.
If, in reading a media report, we ever find ourselves sympathizing with a shooter–whether it is a documented fanatic or an officer of the state–at that point, we ought to reexamine our assumptions. If you find yourself wanting to sympathize with law enforcement consistently, you ought to consider retiring your pacifist card and joining a different tradition. Continue reading
“This is not a protest. It is a demonstration of faith.” From the moment we arrived at DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church, the focus was not just on Sandra Bland but on the God who had created Sandra and saw the injustice that led to her death. The church where Sandy attended for almost two decades found itself mourning under the spotlight of the media and hype of what has been a long, long year of mourning, since Michael Brown died in Ferguson last summer. When Rev. James Miller stepped into the semi-circle to address his grieving congregation, the video cameras said “Speak into the mic, please. Will you say your first and last name and spell it out?”
James Miller reminds the media to look at God, not him.
Rev. Miller refused. He was not at a media circus. He was at church, at home, the second home of African American culture, and this house did not change its rules because the cameras were rolling. Hundreds of people gathered around the courtyard of the church, spilling into the parking lot. It was hot. Humid, the way July is supposed to be. All the women in their best church dresses, all the men in suits. The ushers didn’t even take off their white cotton gloves. Church is church, even when grief lands in your backyard. Continue reading