Two liberal church groups responded immediately to the Ferguson grand jury verdict. Here’s the National Council of Churches:
Washington, DC: The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA expresses its deep disappointment with the decision of the grand jury, sitting in Clayton, Missouri, not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the murder of Michael Brown.
An indictment would not have been a conviction nor a judgement of Officer Wilson’s guilt; rather, it would have permitted him to be tried before a jury of his peers where his innocence or guilt would have been appropriately decided. Without an indictment it now seems unlikely that justice will be done.
Nevertheless, we reiterate our call in this time of serious tension for the city of Ferguson and its citizens, law enforcement officials, justice-seekers, and others to respond in a nonviolent manner. We join with Michael Brown’s father’s plea that protests not become violent.
All hope is not lost. We will not forget Michael Brown nor cease to advocate for justice to be carried out in the matter of his death. His death has helped galvanize across the country a moral will to address the crisis our country faces in the systemic marginalization of young men of color.
Recall the words of Jesus, “And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them.” (Luke 18:7-8, NRSV)
We are especially thankful to the churches and faith community in St. Louis, Missouri who have declared themselves to be ‘sanctuary churches’ and ‘sacred spaces’ as well as to many others who continue to advocate for justice and peace. Many of these churches and individuals are part of our member communions. We surround them with prayer and love.
And here’s the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA):
Today the community justice system of Ferguson, Missouri, told the parents of Michael Brown that his killing was justified. We grieve with the family and community about the decision, and encourage support for their continued quest for justice.
This decision calls the whole church to reflect seriously about the communities and the racial climate we have created in this country. We need a society where everyone is treated with dignity and valued, where there is no fear of walking down the street. We and the places where we live have fallen short of that.
We call the church to pray that God will give us the courage and strength to have honest conversations about race where we live, work, and worship. We pray for safe spaces in Ferguson and in all communities for people to voice their views. We hope for lessons learned, lives changed, and inequitable systems across the United States dismantled in order to bring about the kind of world God has called us to co-create.
The last healing miracle of Jesus is in Luke 22. It is the story of Jesus’ capture in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of the disciples reacts, and in defense of Jesus slices off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Jesus says “No more of this!” and heals the servant. May “no more of this” and healing be the church’s response. Amen
Both church statements assume the bi-racial grand jury, after many weeks of deliberation, failed to act responsibly and denied “justice,” although neither statement really explains how. Neither statement waited for the online posting of the grand jury testimony. Neither statement explained how the police officer should have reacted if, as the grand jury found, he was attacked. Neither statement seems to regard the slain young man as any other than a victim instead of someone responsible for his own actions. There’s rightly sympathy for the young man’s family but none expressed for the officer and his family, nor for the grand jurors who made a difficult decision, nor much for the community suffering violence from self serving rioters more focused on liquor stores than justice.
The story in Ferguson is very tragic and sad but also more morally complicated than admitted by these simplistic, hastily disseminated pronouncements from church organizations that seem more focused on posturing than thoughtful moral reasoning or helpful counsel for troubled communities.Google+