The United States is in crisis. Racism has again driven people to the streets to demand an end to the destructive and deadly consequences of racial hatred, white supremacy and unconscious bias. As we consider events of the last few months, we know that our nation is in desperate need of healing, hope and justice for the senseless deaths of unarmed Black people at the hands of law enforcement and their surrogates.
In the wake of the murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY, and Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick, GA, as well as countless others that have not made the news; the National Council of Churches USA calls upon all people of faith to turn to the task of ending racism with increased fervor and commitment before more lives, and the soul of the nation, are lost.
It does not escape our attention that this crisis of racism intensifies just as we face another crisis, the coronavirus global pandemic, that has infected millions and taken the lives of more than 105,000 Americans, and over 375,000 people worldwide. This pandemic has amplified disparities already integrated into American systems, particularly health care, education and the economy.
As protesters march through cities across the country, we pray that change is on the horizon. We recognize that non-violent protests have led to many of the changes in our nation that we celebrate today. We also acknowledge that a convergence of stressors, bad actors, and other factors have led to demonstrations becoming disorderly and unsafe, further escalating tensions. We urge all protesters to persist in their efforts for non-violent demonstrations to ensure the safety and well-being of all who are lifting their voices to stand for justice.
Additionally, the NCC must join the outcry by our member denominations for the troubling display in the nation’s capital on June 1. It can never be acceptable for the military to be deployed at the order of the U.S. Attorney General against peaceful protesters to violently move them out of the way using tear gas, rubber bullets and other weaponry in order for any elected official, much less the U.S. President, to take a blasphemous photo-op with a bible in front of a church. This was spiritual manipulation and a disgraceful mockery of our sacred text on sacred ground.
At times like these, society looks to public officials to lead, console and unite. Instead, today we see and hear from some government leaders only what leads to hostility and more division. Rather than calm tensions, they seem to be provoking them. But, the church is not closed, absent or silent. We ask church leaders to fill in the gaps of leadership that our nation is now experiencing. We know what it means for the brokenhearted to be healed, for those who mourn to be comforted and for those who are bound to be set free. This is a moment for us as the Church to stand as witnesses—to be light and salt to our country and the world. And, we urge Christian leaders throughout our nation to stand in the gap in leadership, to be available to those who are hurting and to be diligent in pursuing peace, advocating for justice, and helping to heal our nation.
For more information on the NCC’s A.C.T. Now! to End Racism initiative and to access a list of resources, click here.