Retired Elder/North Central Conference/FMC (USA)On Sunday our pastor made the statement that our nation has been at war for 93% of our nation’s history since 1776, computing as of 2015 (222 years out of 239 years… so that in our history we had only 21 years of peace). I was astounded with that above-mentioned statement and so I looked it up after church with my friend “Google” (see: https://www.globalresearch.ca/america-has-been-at-war-93-of-the-time-222-out-of-239-years-since-1776/5565946 ). And there it was: The numbers were correct… and most of these wars were wars of choice or conquest rather than wars of deep moral conviction, like the Civil War or WW II…and for the most part, we as people faith went along with all this national warlike activity down through our history…just keeping “praising the Lord and passing the ammunition.” I then came across in The Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine (the Journal of the Navy & Marine Corps) an article written by Navy Captain John Byron, USN (Ret.) in the August 2017 issue entitled “We Have Been at War a Long Time” that speaks to this issue (see: https://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2017-08/we-have-been-war-long-time ). The author leaves hanging the question of “what do you make of all of that? We really are a warlike people just looking at the hard numbers,
One of the most powerful statements on the church’s responsibility to work for “justice for all” was written by a Baptist pastor named the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It happened in 1963.
In part he says:
“In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation…
You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.
In a recent article, Alexia Salvatierra, who is an adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary and an immigration activist, wrote a thorough history of the Biblical and American experience with immigration, the sanctuary movement, and current realities. It is a great resource, but also a call to participate in the care of those who are being harmed. Comparing the modern sanctuary movement with the “Cities of Refuge” and the “Underground Railroad” the call focuses on the center of Free Methodist biblical commitment and our own history of abolitionist action.
In part she writes:
“In the thirty-fifth chapter of the Book of Numbers in the Hebrew Bible, the writer lays out a remedy for a social and legal problem. In ancient Israel, the penalty for murder was death, “a life for a life.” Family members of the slain person normally carry out the sentence. However, the writers of Numbers recognized that it would not be fair for accidental killers to receive the same punishment as those who kill intentionally. Raging family members could not be expected to stop midstream and investigate; the community is instructed to create cities of refuge where the accused can be kept safe until they can receive a fair hearing. The cities of refuge are the solution for people who committed a crime and received an unfair penalty.
This ancient remedy is the root of the sanctuary church tradition. Since the fourth century in England, churches have offered protection and shelter to those accused of a crime but who would be likely to be punished unfairly if left unprotected.
The systemic racism of our culture is reinforced by the media. In a Washington Post article this was reported:
“…a research team at the University of Illinois that studies media patterns to examine what an average news consumer might have “learned” about black families (and white families) during the last election cycle. The results were disturbing.The study found that, at best, media outlets promoted racially biased portrayals and myths that pathologize black families and idealize white families with respect to poverty and crime. At worst, media outlets amplified those inaccurate depictions for political and financial gain. Such reporting reinforces debunked narratives, helping to justify actions from police brutality to economic policies that will hurt not just black families but all families for generations.
The research team examined more than 800 relevant stories published or aired from January 2015 through December 2016, encompassing coverage from national broadcast and cable news outlets such as ABC, CBS and MSNBC; national mainstream newspapers like The Washington Post, the New York Times and USA Today; and online news sites. In both written and television reporting, the researchers found that the news media systemically misrepresented black families.
When the media outlets examined in the study reported stories about poor families, they chose to feature black families in their coverage 59 percent of the time, even though only 27 percent of families living below the poverty line are black. Similarly, in coverage of welfare,