There is no peace without justice
Offered by Rev. Will Mebane
Vice Chair, EPF National
I am a black man. I spend literally every day of my life looking over my shoulder wondering from where the next glare, taunt, invective, and threat will come my way because I am black. I am a black father. I place my head on my pillow each night praying that my two black sons will not meet their demise at the hands of a police officer drunk with power, or a vigilante living out the dogma of white supremacy.
These concerns may seem illogical to you. If so, then I know you are neither black nor the parent of a black child. My indoctrination to this fear began when I was just a little boy facing severe repercussions should I drink from the water fountain marked “Whites Only” or try to sit on the main level of the movie theater and not in the balcony reserved for blacks. That fear intensified when the KKK began sending letters to our family’s home outlining the fate that awaited me if I continued glancing at white girls in our recently integrated school.
I am a black man in search of peace. However, I know there can be no peace without justice. The institutionalized and systemic racism that permeates every part of American society denies my sister, brothers, wife, children, and me the inalienable rights purportedly guaranteed all citizens of this country. There is no life, liberty, and justice for all in this nation. Not if you are black. Happiness cannot be pursued as long as those sworn to protect and serve deliver with impunity, pain, suffering, and death to black people.
Too many that cloak themselves in the flag, and sing a national anthem that was first heralded as a pro-slavery song, are concerned more about Colin Kaepernick kneeling than about the knee that was in the neck of George Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds squeezing every breath of life out of his black body. Such lynchings might end if more allegiance was paid to the Cross of Jesus than to the “Stars and Stripes.”
I am a black man that has been in search of the land of the free for six decades. My father never found it. His father never found it. My sons will likely not find it in their lifetimes. It’s possible peace that grows from justice can be found. However, it will take more courage than my white sisters and brothers have shown they have. Demonstrations, protests, vigils, and even riots now in streets across America, are indicators that people may finally be fed-up with the virus of racism that infects our healthcare, housing, education, athletics, entertainment, economic, and injustice systems.
A black man offered words more than 50 years ago that have profound relevance for today:
“The time is always right to do what is right. The ultimate measure of a person is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”
“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.”
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship is looking for some more “good people,” as The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described, to work for the removal of the knee of racism from the neck of America. EPF has space reserved for those seeking peace through justice who have the courage to speak-out, and act against this Spirit-destroying pandemic. No experience is necessary.
In a week where the pace of demoralizing events threatens to overcome our ability to meaningfully respond, we share this from Michael W. Waters: "Let’s be clear. When Trump lifted up the Bible in his hands, he was lifting a weapon of mass destruction. White supremacy masquerading as Christianity is by far the most destructive force the world has ever seen. The Bible in the wrong hand with the wrong intent becomes a book of horrors. Pay attention."
"How should Christians think and act with respect to guns and gun ownership? God and Guns in America provides a thoughtful, measured, robust, and articulate biblical treatment of an issue that is too often treated with more heat than light. Ethicist Michael Austin ultimately defends the view—from a Christian but non-pacifist perspective—that (1) the right to own and use a gun is a conditional right, (2) using a gun to harm another person is only morally permissible as a last resort, and (3) more legal restrictions are needed in the United States".
Goodreads – full text
“Austin’s sound arguments, welcoming tone, and emphasis on building peace alongside protections of individual rights have the potential to sway Christians on both sides of the discourse around faith and firearms.”
Publishers Weekly – full text)
“Michael Austin exposes the economic forces that have driven America’s gun culture since the end of the Civil War and challenges Christians to be peacebuilders in a violent world, offering a way forward in making it harder for us to harm one another with guns.”
Rev. Deanna Hollas
Minister of Gun Violence Prevention, Presbyterian Church (USA)
“God and Guns in America is required reading for any follower of Jesus interested in the gun debate. Austin advocates a third way between pacifism and the just war notions of the use of violence, which he calls ‘peacebuilding.’ A fine work of theological integration around one of our culture’s most vexing issues.”
Scott B. Rae
“This is an important book—comprehensive yet concise, well researched yet accessible, with a balanced treatment of the theological, ethical, and legal issues related to guns.”
David P. Gushee
To Honor George Floyd’s Memory, Vote
by Evelyn Dove Coleman
My friend said that her heart hurt when she heard that yet another black man had been murdered by someone paid with tax dollars to protect the community. Throughout the land, people’s hearts were hurting. But that pain cannot come close to what the late George Floyd felt as he lay handcuffed, being openly murdered by a policeman. One commenter said, "This is why Colin Kaepernick took a knee, to stop the killing of black men by police officers. Others made the issue about the flag." Another commenter said, "The killing hasn’t increased; the filming has increased." There is a reaction each time a tragedy happens. But then people go back to living as if everything is alright. I just hate it that so many lives have been lost, and still people do not go to the polls and vote. There is no power in filling the streets after yet another man is killed. No one ever answered the late Rodney King’s question, "Why can’t we all just get along?" Too few people are striving to reach the late Rev. Martin Luther King’s dream of civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. There is too much divisiveness in a country that has the word "united" in its very name. Get to know the candidates for public-service offices and support those who value people’s lives, basic humanity, and community unity. Don’t keep doing the same things expecting a different result. Urge every person you know to urge everyone that they know to find out how to mail in their ballots or go to the polling places to vote!
This week!! Wear orange for gun violence prevention is June 5-7, 2020. We will be filling up the social media airwaves to create awareness around the prevention of gun violence. Send us your photos and videos so we can share the energy you have for this vital social justice effort. Please use #WearOrange for all your social media posts! Give to support EPF’s efforts to end gun violence here.
COVID-19 has forced the nation into an unprecedented emergency. The current emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer-term crisis — that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that has long ignored the needs of 140 million people who are poor or one emergency away from being poor.
In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America and sought to build a broad movement that could unite poor and dispossessed communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this work. People across the nation have joined under the banner of the Campaign to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, climate change and ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
They are coming together to demand that the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in our nation — from every race, creed, gender, sexuality and place — are no longer ignored, dismissed or pushed to the margins of our political and social agenda.