DUE PROCESS: BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW APPLIED TO RECENT POLICE SHOOTINGS

due-process-3There is something extremely visceral about watching a video of a man shot to death, which catches us off guard, and strikes us at a deeply emotional, gut level.  It draws out of us our most raw, unfiltered beliefs and feelings.  We react.  We need to process.  And we need to be honest; the facts simply do not support the popular, fear-evoking narrative being perpetuated in our country.  Here are 12 truths we can know from a Biblical perspective, as the current facts are “filtered through the lens” of Ancient Scripture:

  1. Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott were both members of our humanity; made in the Image of God, and endowed with intrinsic value and worth. Therefore, their untimely, tragic deaths are a great loss.
  2. The Bible instructs us to “mourn with those who mourn,” and this must be our starting point. 1 Corinthians 13:2-3 says that, “ If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,…but have not love, I am nothing.” This is an occasion for the church to link hearts together, and pray for the grief-stricken families, and for the wider community, even for our nation, as we process the pain of loss, and the fear it evokes.
  3. The U.S. has a long, sad, undeniable historical legacy of institutionalized racism (ie: Slavery, Jim Crow, Segregation, KKK, second-class citizenry), and that dark history, understandably, gives rise to fear and mistrust in the hearts of many African Americans every time another member of the community dies at the hands of the institution.
  4. People, who make up institutions, ought to regularly examine our hearts for racism, and repent of it at every turn.  True reform must come first at the heart level.
  5. Institutions are not inherently evil. Conversely, government institutions, including the police department, are God-ordained, and intended for the good of all humanity.  To demonize the police force is to speak against the very governance which God has given to help preserve society.  Romans 13:1-4a says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good.”
  6. Society, especially parents, must teach respect for and submission to authority, both as a matter of conscience, and for the sake of avoiding the consequences of disobedience. Romans 13:4b-5 says, “But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.”
  7. Due process (which we all should want) says there are gaps of information in the cases of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott which need to be filled. All citizens, officers included, should be presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.  When found guilty of negligence, overreach, or criminal offence, officers, like all citizens, should face the consequences as handed down by our legal system, fair and impartial.
  8. Peaceful protests & even civil disobedience may be warranted when the facts clearly evidence that the law or practice of the land violates the moral law of God (including the harm of law-abiding citizens).
  9. The current facts do not support the popular, fear-evoking narrative perpetuated by progressive liberal politics, and this is a good thing! We have reason to hope!  A 63-page study, “An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force,” was compiled by Mr. Roland G. Fryer Jr., a Harvard Professor of Economics.  Fryer, an African American, anticipated finding a racial bias against black people in police shootings, but actually found no such bias, calling his research, “the most surprising result of my career.”  Additionally, Washington State University’s research found a “reverse racism phenomenon” when it comes to police shootings; meaning white suspects are statistically more likely to be shot than black suspects.  As a counter perspective to the fear-evoking narrative that black people are more likely to be killed by police, according to the Washington Post, “To date, law enforcement officials have fatally shot 702 people this year, 163 of them black men, according to a Washington Post database tracking fatal police shootings.”
  10. The above study by Mr. Fryer, Harvard Professor of Economics, does show a stark contrast, beyond use of lethal force, in how different races are treated by the police force, citing a 50% more likelihood for black people to “experience physical interactions with police, including touching, pushing, handcuffing, drawing a weapon, and using a baton or pepper spray.” There are conflicting reasons put forth to explain this contrast: including institutionalized racism within the police force, but also a disproportionately higher crime rate among the African American community.  For everyone who cares about racial equality and desires to see our communities flourish, the question of “systemic causation” remains an important issue that must be probed deeper, together.
  11. While racial inequality remains a serious issue to be addressed, there is compelling reason to state that racism is not the greatest problem facing African Americans, although it has become the greatest focus. Consider that the number of documented lynchings during the entire 80 years between the Civil War and the Civil Rights eras is eclipsed every six months by so called “black on black” murders (3,446!)!  One man thoughtfully, respectfully puts forth 5 key problems facing the African American community.
  12. If anyone should be laboring to overcome racial inequality and to see the nations thriving together, it’s the Church!  Ultimately, the Christian hope for racial reconciliation is found in Jesus; a poor, lower-class Jewish carpenter that willingly laid down his life to redeem the entire human race, and”was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.”  By faith in Jesus, the promised risen Savior, astonishingly, sinners can be reconciled with a holy God, and restored to a familial, kindred fellowship with one another!  “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,…” Ephesians 2:14

I share this post because I deeply love my African American friends and family, and I ache in my heart to see us thriving together.  I truly do!  I am committed to that end!  If you feel that I am missing something, I’d welcome a conversation.  If you’re a young black man, and you want to rise above the crippling false narrative, and help others do the same, come see me.  I’ve got a guest room where you can sleep, and we’ll talk.    We can go much further together, in the right direction.

Your Brother Always,

Brandon Durham

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