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White churches have been fairly quiet on the Zimmerman verdict

White churches have been fairly quiet on the Zimmerman verdict

Writing for the CNN Religion blog, Jeffrey Weiss of the late, great religion staff of the Dallas Morning News says predominantly white churches have been “uncommonly quiet” in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. He writes:

Several bishops, white and black, from the United Methodist Church rapidly offered their thoughts on the denomination’s website. That included the white bishop for the area that includes Sanford, Florida, where Zimmerman shot Martin.

But other organizations where reactions might have been expected still haven’t posted anything.

Where’s the response from the Union of Reform Judaism? Where’s a comment from the leaders of the Episcopal Church? What’s the position of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America?

Those, however, are religious groups that represent relatively few Americans. The largest claims fewer than 5 million members.

The most notable silence is from the American Catholic hierarchy, who head a church that claims to have nearly 70 million members.

This isn’t entirely fair to the Episcopal Church. Bishops Jeff Lee of Chicago and Wendell Gibbs of Detroit have both issued statements on the verdict. And Bishop Greg Brewer and the Rev. Charlie Holt have been in the thick of reconciliation efforts in Central Florida. Still, when I asked on the Cafe’s Facebook page on the night of the verdict whether preachers intended to change their sermons for the following morning, most of those who responded said no change was necessary because they were already speaking on the issue of showing mercy to one’s neighbor.

Are we being too quiet, folks? And if so, why?

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Katie Sherrod

Bishop Rayford High of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth issued a statement.

"As I reflected in the wake of the recent verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, a deep sadness came over me because one of God’s precious children has been killed and another of God’s precious children has had his life changed forever by his actions.

"I, like some of you, want to know why this happened, want to find fault, want to place the blame with someone or some institution. I also believe if I continue to have this attitude, I will end up on a one-way street to destructive anger and bitterness. Instead, let us spend our energy and time holding up in prayer the Martin family, the Zimmerman family, the community where these events played out. Let us in prayer and in action strive with our whole being to try to keep this from happening again in our country. And let us join together in a commitment to work to remove the blight of racism from ourselves, our diocese, our Church, our city and state, our beloved America. We can do no less, compelled as we are by the commandment Jesus gave us to love all our sisters and brothers as God loves us. Pray for our nation. And please pray for me, and know that I hold all of you in prayer daily."

- See more at: http://episcopaldiocesefortworth.org/statement-from-bishop-high-in-the-wake-of-the-zimmerman-trial-verdict/#sthash.VOiyS66M.dpuf

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Katie Sherrod

Bishop Rayford High of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth issued a statement:

"As I reflected in the wake of the recent verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, a deep sadness came over me because one of God’s precious children has been killed and another of God’s precious children has had his life changed forever by his actions.

"I, like some of you, want to know why this happened, want to find fault, want to place the blame with someone or some institution. I also believe if I continue to have this attitude, I will end up on a one-way street to destructive anger and bitterness. Instead, let us spend our energy and time holding up in prayer the Martin family, the Zimmerman family, the community where these events played out. Let us in prayer and in action strive with our whole being to try to keep this from happening again in our country. And let us join together in a commitment to work to remove the blight of racism from ourselves, our diocese, our Church, our city and state, our beloved America. We can do no less, compelled as we are by the commandment Jesus gave us to love all our sisters and brothers as God loves us. Pray for our nation. And please pray for me, and know that I hold all of you in prayer daily."

- See more at: http://episcopaldiocesefortworth.org/statement-from-bishop-high-in-the-wake-of-the-zimmerman-trial-verdict/#sthash.VOiyS66M.dpuf

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Katie Sherrod

Bishop Rayford High of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth issued a statement:

"As I reflected in the wake of the recent verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, a deep sadness came over me because one of God’s precious children has been killed and another of God’s precious children has had his life changed forever by his actions.

"I, like some of you, want to know why this happened, want to find fault, want to place the blame with someone or some institution. I also believe if I continue to have this attitude, I will end up on a one-way street to destructive anger and bitterness. Instead, let us spend our energy and time holding up in prayer the Martin family, the Zimmerman family, the community where these events played out. Let us in prayer and in action strive with our whole being to try to keep this from happening again in our country. And let us join together in a commitment to work to remove the blight of racism from ourselves, our diocese, our Church, our city and state, our beloved America. We can do no less, compelled as we are by the commandment Jesus gave us to love all our sisters and brothers as God loves us. Pray for our nation. And please pray for me, and know that I hold all of you in prayer daily."

- See more at: http://episcopaldiocesefortworth.org/statement-from-bishop-high-in-the-wake-of-the-zimmerman-trial-verdict/#sthash.VOiyS66M.dpuf

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Ann Fontaine

1. Of course the bishop's statement was a dream and a hope and not reality. But I think you can urge them to take the diversity training offered by the church -- even set up a training at your church. A first step to learning about what people with power and privilege can do.

2. Here are the resolutions passed on guns

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Weiwen Ng

If I were crafting a churchwide statement on the case, I'd want two things said:

1. I am not sure if there is a church position on gun control. I would remind the church in no uncertain terms that members who choose to own a gun are only allowed to use it in self defense. No matter what the laws are, I think we can say at minimum that vigilantism is not a Christian thing.

2. I'd remind members that the rates of violent crime have in fact gone down. (There is a case to be made that this is due to the fact that we've now removed lead gasoline and paint from circulation.) You can generally trust that the police can protect you. Theologically, we are allowed to put our trust in the institutions of the state, and in fact we should. You cannot trust individuals to solve society's problems. Some of those individuals will be worthy of trust. Some won't.

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