A Christian Response to the Riots in Ferguson, Missouri
Every Christian is concerned about justice. When people break the law, they should be held accountable regardless of their race or color. Christians cannot be consistent with the teachings of the Bible if they make decisions based on any form of prejudice. The Bible teaches us in the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not kill,” and “Thou shalt not steal.”The Bible also teaches us to obey the civil authorities that govern over us. Romans 13:1, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities…and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” These basic laws are taught in the Bible. A nation cannot survive where there is a disrespect for biblical law. Anarchy is the result of lawlessness.
The shooting death of a young unarmed black youth in Ferguson, Missouri has ignited riots and civil disobedience in that community. This incident has attracted many civil rights leaders. Without all the facts in, some of these leaders have already made alarming statements that have inflamed the situation which has led to more violence.
All of us who know the Lord Jesus Christ desire nothing less than true peace and justice to take place in our nation. Justice must be based on biblical law and righteousness. Peace cannot come from revenge, retaliation, or violence that leads to millions of dollars of looting and damage. This kind of behavior only promotes further racial division and distrust among our citizens.
Before anyone really knew the truth of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, the situation was inflamed and exploited by those known for race baiting. The tragic death of this young man is being exploited by civil rights leaders and the embers of racial hatred and division are being fanned into a full blown blazing fire of hate. The scenes of violent disrespect for the law on the evening news is shocking and alarming.
It is important that all Christian ministers, black and white, call for true justice and calm in this situation. We must gather together as Christians and Americans to restore order, justice, and peace in this community and in our country. There is no excuse for the kind of civil disobedience we see in Missouri. We do not know what happened, as of yet. Bits and pieces of information are slowly filtering in, and to see black communities exploding into this kind of rage and violence needs to be explained. What is going on in black communities that is causing this kind of rage and racial hatred? What is being taught in black churches and by black civil rights leaders that evokes this kind of response?
Why is there no outrage to the thousands of black-on-black shootings and murders that are taking place in many of our cities throughout the country? Between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims; 262,621 were murdered by other blacks. That is approximately 7,550 blacks killed every year by other blacks. This makes the wars in the Middle East seem tame by comparison. During that same period, approximately 104 blacks every year are killed by police in the United States.(This is not to infer that those killed by the police were killed unjustly) This is 7,550 blacks killed by other blacks ratio to 104 blacks killed by police each year. Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation's population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. Black-on-black murder is far and away more deadly than murder by white police officers. One picture of black residents in Ferguson, Missouri shows that they are wearing t-shirts that say, “Stop killing us.” Blacks killed by the police are a rarity in comparison to blacks killed by other blacks. Blacks are killing each other in alarming numbers. And when we consider the number of black abortions every year it is staggering to see the slaughter that is taking place by black on black crime. When blacks say, “Stop killing us” they should apply that to themselves. But there does not seem to be any outrage by the black community on these tragic black-on-black shootings and deaths. The number of white people killed by blacks in acts of violence far outnumber the deaths of blacks killed by whites including the police. In the community where I live, Flint, Michigan, there have been a number of whites murdered by blacks in some of the most vicious and violent forms of racial crime. One incident a few years ago involved the rape and murder of a number of white teens who stumbled on a gang of black youths. There were no riots from the white community. There were no marches or protests from the black civil rights leaders. The absence of white civil disobedience and calls for racial justice show just how far apart the two communities really are. And what if white teens were walking around in our cities playing the vicious and racial game called “knock out.” This is where black kids go up to unsuspecting whites (ladies, old men, girls or boys) and sucker punch them and knock them out cold! I can only imagine the outrage this would cause if white youths were doing things like this. All crime whether committed by blacks or whites should be condemned. There has been a tragic history in our country of white racism and bigotry. But this nation has made significant progress in addressing those problems. No one doubts that there is still more progress to be made. But the kind of response that we see in Ferguson, Missouri is totally unwarranted.
Is there a problem with racial hate crimes in America? Actually, the hate crime epidemic in America is an illusion. Hate crimes have never been more than a tiny fraction of overall violent crime in our country, and the numbers have actually been holding steady or decreasing in recent years. There are surprising statistics regarding interracial crime. It turns out that 80 percent of violent crimes involve an attacker and victim of the same race. For the 20 percent of violent crimes that are interracial, 15 percent involve black offenders and white victims; 2 percent involve white offenders and black victims; and 3 percent involve other combinations.” Whites are far more likely to be victims of racial crimes than blacks. When was the last time you saw a riot where whites torched the city and looted it because of a black-on-white crime?
What is not being explained by the black community is what was this young black man doing that caused his shooting death in the first place? We now have strong evidence that moments before his confrontation with the police, he had been involved in a strong armed robbery at a nearby convenience store. A short time later, as he is walking in the middle of the street causing a dangerous situation with traffic, he was asked by the police to move over to the side of the road. Was this an unreasonable request? Absolutely not. Had this young man respectfully obeyed this request, he most likely would be alive today. And the circumstances of just how and why he was eventually shot are still unknown. We are having some details filtering in. One witness, who is friends with the police officer who shot this young man, said the officer was being charged by the victim. The officer shot him numerous times until eventually he fatally shot him in the head to stop his advance. Was the victim on any drugs? There are reports that he had been smoking marijuana. We do not know at this time. The evidence must be given time to come in before we can draw any definitive conclusions.
All Christians are deeply grieved that this young man lost his life. It seems so senseless that he died because of his own disrespect for the law. We do not know at this time if he was murdered, or if he was killed as a result of self defense as he charged the police officer. We do know that he would be alive today if he had just obeyed a reasonable request from the police officer who confronted him.
The rhetoric of Rev. Al Sharpton is despicable. This kind of rhetoric is only inflaming the situation. Now is the time for the servants of God to declare the biblical teachings that will guide us in our communities to know how to respond to these kind of tragedies. The mother of the victim says that the only thing that will bring justice is for the police officer to be arrested and to be held accountable for this murder. The problem is that at this moment, this dear grieving mother, does not know what the circumstances are surrounding the shooting of her son. Is the police officer guilty of murder? If so, he must be prosecuted. But this mother, and all of the community, must be patient to wait for the forensic facts and the autopsy evidence to be brought out before they inflame the situation in the community. It is also very tragic to exploit a mother who lost her son by asking her to comment on the situation. Of course, she is traumatized. Of course, she is grieving. But she should not be speaking about this until she, like all of us, has all the evidence of what really happened. All parents, sympathize with her in her loss and grief. But if I put myself in her place, I can say that, in the midst of my grief, I would be absolutely appalled that my son was out strong-arm robbing stores and causing disturbances in the community and disrespecting the police. In the meantime, the rioting, violence, and civil disobedience is totally unwarranted.
Where is the teaching from the Bible that warns against rebellion? Where is the teaching about stealing, hatred, and revenge? If the facts show that the police officer is guilty of murder, he should be tried and punished by God’s law. In the absence of knowing what really happened, we are seeing the black community responding with racial hatred and violence. This hatred threatens to spread to other communities and endanger all of our major cities and do irreparable damage to the relationship between blacks and whites for years to come. No nation can survive when respect for law disappears and when one or both sides of the conflict so distrust the other that the facts are always rejected and viewed with suspicion. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring people, communities and adversaries together. If we do not teach the principles of the Word of God, we will never have true peace or justice in this land.
This is the time for biblical patience. This is the time for people to remove race out of this discussion and demand biblical justice to be meted out to all those involved. If the facts and evidence show the police officer did, in fact, murder this young man, then he must be held accountable. If the facts and the evidence exonerates this police officer, he must not be made a scape goat to satisfy the demands of an angry mob of rioters. There is a strong chance that this officer was just doing his duty. Time will tell. If we continue to punish those individuals for doing their job, the time will come when it will be difficult to find quality young men who are willing to risk their lives protecting the community they live in. Let the pastors of the black community teach their parishioners that stealing, pillaging, name-calling and race-baiting is nothing less than sin and rebellion against the laws of a holy God. Let pastors of the white community teach the biblical law of love for all men and to treat all men with dignity and respect as those who have been made in the image of God. Pastors must call all men, black and white to bow to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Only then can we heal our land.