Recent events of excessive and deadly force by police officers have ignited upset, anger, rioting and protests throughout the United States. Both major political parties have expressed a need to make changes in our police departments, to improve training and to eradicate racism.
There are strong and valid allegations of systemic racism in our judicial and criminal justice systems. I am of the age that I was a college student during the Civil Rights era of Martin Luther King. Alaska has a history of unequal justice accorded Alaska Natives. Inequality has been a way of life in America. There has been some progress, but we have a long way to go. While As I look at police officers with respect as authority figures who protect me and my family, many minority parents are afraid for the lives of their children in their interactions with police. Racial discrimination has impacted people of all minority races.
There are many situations in which a person who is being discriminated against is aware of very poor, insulting, unjust discrimination. It may be in social circles. It may be in their place of employment or certainly in the criminal justice system. There are now cries to defund the police and put those monies into social programs. However, law enforcement agencies are critical to the maintenance of public safety for all peoples.
Recently, the Charis Fellowship, also known as the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, put out a “Response to the death of George Floyd.” It is important for churches and the Christian community to make their voices heard about wrongs being suffered. Many denominations have done exactly that. The Charis Fellowship response was balanced but direct.
First, the Charis Fellowship condemned racism in any form, affirming their belief in a God who has created all persons in His image. They cited that God demands that all persons are to be treated with dignity and respect.
Next was an affirmation of the God’s ordained agency of law enforcement. Romans 13:1-7. But there was also a call to root out actions and attitudes that manifest the evils of racism and to make law enforcement accountable.
The Charis Fellowship also affirmed the First Amendment right to peacefully protest, but condemned rioting, looting and arson. Importantly, the Charis Fellowship affirmed their commitment to the Biblical truth that God cares very deeply about issues of justice and human dignity. They stated: “We believe followers of Jesus cannot remain passive or silent and must embrace our responsibility to ‘stop doing wrong; learn to do right; seek justice; and defend the oppressed.’” Isaiah 1:16-17.
Therefore our nation must seek God-honoring solutions to end all racial inequity and ensure equal access to justice and opportunity for all.
We need to call upon on all churches and all peoples to pray to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the true and only source of harmony, unity and reconciliation.
Dr. Roger Holl is pastor of Sterling Grace Community Church in Sterling. He serves on the Fellowship Council, which is the national board of the Charis Fellowship. Sterling Grace Community Church is meeting online on Facebook at Sterling Grace Community Church or YouTube at Sterling Grace Community Church.
• By Roger Holl, For the Peninsula Clarion