A Christian Response to the Killing of Ahmaud Arbery ©

While the COVID-19 crisis clamors for our attention and the struggle on how best to re-open swamps our perceptions, the sin of racism still blights our society and nation. We have witnessed one person, a white woman, being celebrated, encouraged and set free despite clearly breaking the law here in Texas. At the same time, white vigilantes have immorally taken the law into their own hands and taken the life of yet another unarmed African-American man. The ongoing need for equal justice under the law is still with us. Entrenched racism still scars our society. The cause of Christ is always yoked to a biblical truth. Christ died for all! Love of God and love of neighbor – all our neighbors – is the great commandment our Lord has given to all his children.
I write to add my endorsement of the joint statement below issued by the United Methodist Church’s General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) & the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS). Once again, the cry goes up, “how long O Lord, how long!”
“Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, … But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 4:14, 25) Bishop Mike Lowry, Resident Bishop of the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church
Statement by GCORR & GBCS on the Killing of Ahmaud Arbery
May 8, 2020
Ahmaud Arbery
How long, O Lord, how long?
The February killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, is another incident that torchlights the darkest moments of our history. The recurrence of these killings, coupled with the fact that justice is seldom served, is a strong indication of how deeply entrenched racism is in our society’s systems and beliefs.
Eric Garner, Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Samuel DuBose, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and Walter Scott are few of the many innocent black lives who have been killed by police officers. The incomplete list of the named and unnamed indicate the pervasive culture of racism and white supremacy in America.
While arrests have finally been made in the first step towards a judicial process to Mr. Arbery’s case, the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) and General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) of The United Methodist Church vehemently condemn racism and white supremacy as sin and also enjoin the Justice Department to look into the situation without any iota of fear or favor.
Many black households teach black children and youths to observe humiliating precaution in a culture that recklessly takes human life. It appears that the race of men of color now serves as a premise for the infliction of violence and in unfortunate cases like Mr. Arbery’s, the loss of life.
Safety and security must be exercised in all communities and not deny equity to communities of color while positively privileging white communities. White supremacy must be eradicated. It is imperative for the white community to advance beyond mere statements condemning racially motivated violence. Policies must be adopted and implemented to ensure that incidents like the killing of Mr. Arbery are properly addressed, and recurrences are prevented.
We call on United Methodists to work for the complete eradication of racism, and promotion of justice and fairness as core principles that guide the enforcement of law and order. GBCS and GCORR call for improved efforts towards the safety of every life regardless of race or cultural group.
Erin Hawkins, General Secretary of GCORR states: “More decisive action to resist and dismantle racism is needed at every level of The United Methodist Church. This action must go beyond our historically empty rhetoric about repentance and broken promises to be a church that is a credible and active witness for peace, equity and justice in the face of harm visited upon communities of color. We need informed, equipped and committed clergy and laity to unapologetically shine the light of truth in their homes, workplaces, churches and communities, by declaring racism as sin and actively pursuing God’s desire for all to live in safety and freedom.”
Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of GBCS states: “The United Methodist Social Principles name racism as sin and state that racism ‘is antithetical to the gospel itself.’ (¶162A) My white brothers and sisters need to recognize our complicity in the culture of systemic racism and condemn white supremacy as sin. Churches must continue to address racism within their own communities. The words ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done’  will only be realized when we address the root causes of racism that pervade all aspects of our society.”
We hope and pray that through cooperative efforts, working together, raised awareness, policy-making, and genuine change in culture of white privilege, that black men and women like Ahmaud Arbery are no longer hashtags trending on Twitter, but recognized for who they truly are: children of God, created in the image of the God.