November 25, 2014

Liberal Church Groups React to Ferguson Grand Jury

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.


16 Responses to Liberal Church Groups React to Ferguson Grand Jury

  1. eMatters2 says:

    No justice? That’s odd, I didn’t realize those groups were on the grand jury and heard 70 hours of testimony from 60 witnesses, including 7-8 blacks who corroborated Wilson’s testimony.

    Well, after news of last night’s reaction I’m convinced that Ferguson is just made up of a bunch of “gentle giants.”

    I’m sure all the “Christian” Left will gather together and invest their own money to open stores in Ferguson. Good luck getting insurance, though.

    And I’m sure that Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis, Jesse, Al and the rest of the “Christian” Left race-baiting agitators are proud of themselves today for helping foster this. They accomplished exactly what they wanted: An environment where the town would never accept this decision, regardless of the facts. And these moral freaks pretend to love their neighbors . . .

  2. yolo says:

    Here is the link to an excellent article written by a Bob Jones graduate, ex-Anglican, current Catholic Priest: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2014/11/anglicans-wonder-why-no-one-comes-to-church-on-sunday.html It is exactly what you wrote about yesterday.

    Here is the main excerpt:

    “In most places the Protestant religion has been reduced to Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism. That means God (if he exists) is out there and doesn’t really interfere. Religion is therefore about becoming a nicer person and doing good stuff. Sad to say a lot of Catholics have also reduced their religion to Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. If that is all that Christianity is, then (as Flannery O’Conner would say) to hell with it. No wonder people have stopped going to church because if your religion is no more than Moralistic Therapeutic Deism why bother dragging yourself off to a dreary building early on a Sunday morning to sing awful hymns with awful people and listen to some guy or gal read from a 2000 year old book and then drone on about being a nicer person peace and justice all are welcome gather them in and songs about eagles. You get my point. People are dropping out of church because it simply doesn’t make sense. However. Take yourself off to a traditionally celebrated Mass and you are on another planet. Suddenly the worship is strange and beautiful and otherworldly. The priest is talking about stuff you can’t get anywhere else. He’s not talking about making the world a better place, he’s talking about finding our way to the best place. He’s not talking about saving the environment. He’s talking about saving souls. He’s not talking about peace and justice, but introducing you to the Prince of Peace and the Fearful Judge of All. This is something you need if your soul is to be saved and you can’t get it anywhere else.”

  3. yolo says:

    Here is the link to an excellent article: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2014/11/anglicans-wonder-why-no-one-comes-to-church-on-sunday.html It is exactly what you wrote about yesterday.

    Excerpt:

    “In most places the Protestant religion has been reduced to Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism. That means God (if he exists) is out there and doesn’t really interfere. Religion is therefore about becoming a nicer person and doing good stuff. Sad to say a lot of Catholics have also reduced their religion to Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. If that is all that Christianity is, then (as Flannery O’Conner would say) to hell with it. No wonder people have stopped going to church because if your religion is no more than Moralistic Therapeutic Deism why bother dragging yourself off to a dreary building early on a Sunday morning to sing awful hymns with awful people and listen to some guy or gal read from a 2000 year old book and then drone on about being a nicer person peace and justice all are welcome gather them in and songs about eagles. You get my point. People are dropping out of church because it simply doesn’t make sense. However. Take yourself off to a traditionally celebrated Mass and you are on another planet. Suddenly the worship is strange and beautiful and otherworldly. The priest is talking about stuff you can’t get anywhere else. He’s not talking about making the world a better place, he’s talking about finding our way to the best place. He’s not talking about saving the environment. He’s talking about saving souls. He’s not talking about peace and justice, but introducing you to the Prince of Peace and the Fearful Judge of All. This is something you need if your soul is to be saved and you can’t get it anywhere else.”

  4. Tom Morris says:

    RIght. . . it doesn’t matter what the facts are, charge the policeman and send him to trial.

  5. readerddddddd says:

    Sounds like the crowd yelling for Jesus to be killed after Pontius Pilate gave them a choice.

  6. Orter T. says:

    Your comment about the situation being “morally complicated” is right on. We no longer start with the assumption that we are all sinners living in a broken world, including white police officers and African American men.

    I thought the civil rights movement was about doing away with discrimination based on race. So why is it OK to automatically condemn a police officer simply because he is white and presume that another person is innocent based on the color of their skin?
    Somehow I don’t think this is what Martin Luther King had in mind, at least I hope not.

  7. Redbird25 says:

    “Without an indictment it now seems unlikely that justice will be done.”
    Oh please. Have you read all of the evidence? Obviously not. According to multiple eyewitnesses and the coroner’s report, Michael Brown was charging head-first at Officer Wilson when he was shot. He was a punk thug who had just robbed a store minutes before.

  8. Guest says:

    Wow, thanks for deleting my comment, I’ll try again. According to multiple eyewitnesses (all African Americans) and the coroner’s report, Michael Brown was charging head-first at the officer when he was shot. His actions brought about his death.

  9. Namyriah says:

    Does anyone even listen to the NCC any more? The group has fallen upon such hard times they had to move of their expensive lodgings at the “God Box” in NYC.

    Evangelicals outnumber the liberals/mainliners, and have for several years now, and the gap keeps widening. NCC, you not only lost your soul (remember that goal of “saving the lost”?) but also your numbers and your importance. That’s the trifecta of spiritual failure.

  10. irishsmile says:

    I am appalled by this article. As the wife of 57 years of a retired (Hispanic) law enforcement officer and as a person who has actually served on a Grand Jury, I have to wonder what the writer wants!!! Anarchy & chaos apparently. Grand juries get to ask everything and examine everything with no interference from lawyers. Grand Juries are not convened because of a crime; crimes are assigned to sitting Grand Juries. It is a more thorough process than a jury trial. And let me make a point!!! If this had been a jury trial and the officer has been cleared; the riots would have happened, too!!! These riots are the work of radical organizers. The sooner that we figure that out, the sooner we can discourage riots.

  11. Read the Constitution…Liberal church of blather.

  12. George Whitley says:

    Is the National Council of Churches ignorant of our Constitution which gave us the grand jury for everyone’s protection under the law?

  13. Jack Skidmore says:

    Your comments, Mr. Tooley, articulate the truth.

    The PC USA liberal takeover does not represent the feelings of most Presbyterians who believe in the rule of law.
    No one has argued that I have observed, that the Grand Jury is and was a “Jury of peers”. The police officer’s actions have been examined and reflect the decision of no crime was committed by the officer. I believe it is also very important to recognize the grand jury had been empaneled long before the shooting occurred.
    Further, the call the officer had been on was for a baby with breathing difficulties. It seems odd the facts of this have not been shared. Was the child’s condition improved? Did Officer Wilson administer treatment, were EMTs called in? The results of that call may shed light on Wilson’s state of mind and show his empathy for human life, perhaps a black human life.
    Too many are anxious to jump to wrong conclusions and ignore facts. This goes all the way to the white house!!!

  14. Eugene McCallips says:

    We’ll said Mark. You correctly identify our entire culture’s tendency to “twitter” without adequate time for reflection! And you call us to prayerful reflection.

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