Dean Gary Hall of Washington National Cathedral and young adults associated with the Union of Black Episcopalians are among Episcopalians responding to the killing of Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by police officer Darren Wilson and the subsequent unrest it has triggered in Ferguson, Missouri.
Writing for On Faith, Hall says:
When I first heard the news of Michael Brown’s death, I could not help remembering “Brown Baby,” a song written by Oscar Brown, Jr. in 1961 and later made famous by Nina Simone and Diana Ross. Brown’s song was written in the middle of the most hopeful and violent moments of the Civil Rights Movement. You can feel the mixture of hope, anger, and fear as the black parent addresses a newborn child.
For the faith community, Michael Brown’s life and death matter. For the faith community, addressing the social, political, and racial dynamics of his death matter, too. The “post-racial America” which so many announced still has yet to arrive. If we are going to live in the America that really exists, we need to face into the racial history that is ours and in which our churches have had such a complicated role. Michael Brown’s killing reminds us, if of nothing else, that the hopes of “Brown Baby” have yet to be realized.
The Young Adults of the Union of Black Episcopalians wrote:
We … call on the National Board and local chapters to:
Join us in prayer for the repose of the soul of Michael Brown, and to
Join us in reaffirming our Baptismal vow to “strive for justice and respect the dignity of every human being,” and to
Join us in condemning the use of excessive force by authorities, and to
Join us in condemning the resulting looting and destruction of property, and to
Join us as we stand in solidarity with the residents of Ferguson, MO in their demand for justice, and to
Join us by teaching us the appropriate channels to carry our message to the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, the Office of Black Ministries and the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri so that the prophetic voice of Episcopal Church resounds in speaking against the legacy of institutionalized oppression in the United States and across our world.
The whole situation has me thinking a lot about Frederick Douglass’ Slaveholding Religion and the Christianity of Christ. His words still ring true with regard to the empty prayers of the police in Ferguson “They attend with pharisaical strictness to the outward forms of religion, and at the same time neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith.”
Last night was the calmest night in Ferguson since Brown’s death, and BuzzFeed says clergy deserve some of the credit.
What have your thoughts about events in Ferguson and the churches’ response?