Shawn Lyons Jegede is an insightful and passionate African-American pastor with my parent denomination, the Churches of God, General Conference. Last week she sent this message to her colleagues across the church.:
“Speaking to my pastor colleagues: I know we sometimes shy away from controversy but I implore you not to remain silent on this issue of racism and the Trayvon Martin case in Florida. I know it may be awkward to deal with but, as true witnesses of Christ, we too must fight injustice and stand for what is right as He did. We are the light of the world and darkness can only exist when light is absent. Open your hearts and observe the wounds this case has reopened. Not sure what you can do? Here are a few suggestions. Sign one of the petitions for the case and encourage everyone in your congregation to as well. Hold a time of prayer during worship this Sunday and pray for everyone involved directly in the case. Pray also for everyone who’s heard about it that God help us all assess ourselves and receive healing from prejudice and from the effects of being discriminated against. Finally, talk about racism openly with your congregation and allow space for people to be honest and receive spiritual direction and support. Let us not allow Satan’s weapon of racism to hide in our hearts or in our pews. –Your sister in Christ.”
I am taking her words to heart. By now, you are well aware (I hope) of Trayvon Martin, the young African-America gunned down in Sanford, Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman. Trayvon was shot and killed February 26. The Sanford police have not yet arrested Zimmerman even on suspicion of murder. Zimmerman defends his actions on a law in Florida known as the Stand Your Ground Law. A quick reading of this law makes such a defense dubious at best.
The police have already admitted that Zimmerman violated major principles of the Neighborhood Watch manual, which states, “it should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers, and they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles.”
Although some are prone to see racism behind every encounter between African-Americans and the police, this is not the first time Sanford police have been accused of racial motivations. Even the city manager of Sanford is considering dismissing the chief of police. You only have to see pictures of Trayvon and Zimmerman to seriously question that Trayvon attacked Zimmerman. And once Zimmerman started chasing Zimmerman, the self-defense argument seems to go out the window.
For a time-line of these events, now almost 30 days old, go to ABC NEWS.
The persistence of such incidents remind us that racism is not dead in America. It continues to be an insidious reality that damages participatory democracy. I know white persons, some of whom have been on the short end of the affirmative action initiatives, find it hard to think well of African-Americans and I know that too often the race card has been played African-American radicals who have abandoned any semblance of respecting people not of their race. But none of this changes the fact that until we treat one another as fellow Americans, neighbors with the same needs, similar dreams, and the same inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, ours will not be a nation of integrity. And while the rest of the country persists in justifying racist attitudes, we as Christians have absolutely no right to such a position. It is time for we as disciples of Jesus Christ to declare that racism has no place in the kingdom of God. We need to be doing something about it.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula said it would not allow Christian proselytizing to continue in Yemen and threatened to attack other U.S. citizens and interests if the United States does not stop aiding Israel, viewed as an enemy by most Arab nations.
“The United States, its infidel subjects and interests, are legitimate targets for our jihad until it ends its war against Islam and Muslims, starting with its aid for Jews in Palestine and recurring crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen.”
The occasion for this pronouncement the killing of Joel Shrum, gunned down in Yemen last week. Joel was a Christian, one who was in Yemen to help Yemenis learn English. The slain teacher had worked at the International Training and Development Center, which was established in the 1970s and is one of the oldest foreign language institutes in Yemen.Shrum actually urged Yemenis not to abandon their faith. He did not proselytize. Shrum not only taught Yemenis English, but would often buy students books and assist them in learning computer skills. Read more …. This one was close to home as Joel was from next-door Mount Joy and his in-laws are next door neighbors to my father in another city.
Al-Qaida and its tribe are most dangerous group on the planet. Their crimes are made more heinous because they do it in the name of their god. They are also at heart religious totalitarians. They are no friends of freedom. For all of the vilification heaped on America for its wars in the Middle East, we persist in being the nation persistently and vigilantly opposing the tyranny these haters propose to inflict not only on Christian infidels but on every people who does not share their faith. And what I have learned for Muslims in this country with whom I have become acquainted, these actions do not reflect the Koran’s teaching about jihad and Islamic nations who refuse to reign in these terrorist make the concept of a peace-loving Moslem difficult to practice. Muslims who respect other religions, who honor the freedom they have are often terrorized themselves by the Islamists.
My prayer is that starting in nations like Yemen and Egypt and Indonesia that those governments will begin to see the threat Al-Qaida is and stop offering them sanctuary and support.