The Elephant in the Church Pew - Why Are Not More Christian Leaders Standing in Solidarity with Ferguson?

 "But let justice run down like waters and righteousness as a mighty and ever-flowing stream."  Amos 5:24, Amplified Bible

I've been following the events that have unfolded since Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, MO PD fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, on August 9, 2014.  The people of Ferguson, MO have taken to the streets and to social media to peacefully protest against the obvious excessive use of force in yet another instance of police lynching of a black suspect.  They are also marching to express their perpetual frustration with a police department, city and county governments which have historically and systematically marginalized, disenfranchised and discriminated against minorities for a very long time and have yet to held accountable for their overt and covert racism.  Their largely peaceful protests (despite efforts by criminal elements and law enforcement to incite violence) have had a tremendous positive impact worldwide, with international show of support coming from as far away as Russia, Palestine and Turkey.  Observers from around the world are standing in solidarity with the people of #Ferguson - a small, mostly black (67%) suburb of St. Louis, MO - as they stand up for #justiceforMichaelBrown.   

IMHO This is a re-kindling of the freedom movement, a.k.a. the civil rights movement in contemporary times.  When an oppressed people organize to exercise their first amendment rights to lawfully assemble and exercise their freedom of speech and make the voices heard and their cause visible, that is always a good thing.  That is our American democracy at its best, working to preserve to every American citizen those certain inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Yet these very American, bedrock principles of democratic governance are being put to the test as security forces, purportedly in the interests of public safety, actually seek to repress the people's exercise of their first amendment rights.  Additionally, certain politically slanted right wing media outlets are twisting the events and happenings in Ferguson in an attempt to obfuscate and confuse the real issues and the constructive, positive movement for a desperately needed change there.  To be clear:  the people of Ferguson have just as much right as everyone else to take to the streets and demand that the police stop using their authority to marginalized, dehumanize, criminalize, racially profile, harass, detain, arrest, abuse and murder with impunity black and brown people.  That is the real issue here.

The issue of racial discrimination is also the inconvenient elephant in the room that, it seems, non-black Christian religious leaders of note are loathe to address.  It's a given that black pastors are going to stand up and be in solidarity with Ferguson, with a few unremarkable exceptions.  And true to form, they have been out there supporter the protesters and trying to keep the peace in a hostile, militarized police takeover of the town.  But where are our White, Asian and Latino brother pastors when we most need them?  Have we learned anything at all from Dr. King's Letters From A Birmingham Jail?  The church has historically been slow or even reactionary in its response to racial discrimination.  And (hoping I'm wrong) it looks like history is repeating itself.  I'm making a strenuous appeal to the Joel Osteens, the John Pipers, the David Jeremiahs and Charles Stanleys of the religious world to stand in solidarity with the protesters in Ferguson and make your support known.  You have the power to influence the thinking and mentality of many in your congregations who cannot see the issues and the responsibility to be their brother's keeper as clearly as they should.  The racial divide in America exists in large part because our most influential institutions have done hardly anything to address the issue; hence, in an indirect way the church has condoned slavery, Jim Crow, de facto segregation and structural racism.  But you brethren have the power to change that sorry track record.  I'm making my appeal in the hopes that you readers will share this with your pastors and create some kind of accountability within our gated church communities.  Your help is urgently needed.    


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