Rector's Statement on the Death of George Floyd

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Published by Josh Hosler on Wed, Jun 3, 2020 7:27 AM
Commentary

On Monday, June 1, the president of the United States ordered military police to use tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash grenades against peaceful protesters. He did this to clear the way for a photo op in front of St. John's Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. He held a Bible in his hand -- upside-down -- and didn't open it or even quote it as he threatened military action against civilians all over the country.

A lot of people get uncomfortable when their priest wades into politics. Well, the president has waded into our church uninvited. He didn't come to pray, but to swagger and boast and bully and preach a false gospel of "domination" -- the very opposite of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In keeping with Jesus and the entire prophetic tradition of our faith, church leaders have every right to speak out against this disturbing and unprecedented action. I am heartened to see that many people of experience and renown, plus a few members of his own administration, are also speaking out and even making sacrifices in protest.

Yet here's the thing -- and I confess that it took a colleague's example to bring it to my attention. I have allowed my emotions to be hijacked by a narcissistic wannabe dictator who offends my religious sensibilities. But have I been nearly as angry about the death of George Floyd or the many other unarmed people of color murdered by police in recent years?

Yes, I preached about this on Sunday. God's dream of reconciliation among all people continues to be deferred. The Holy Spirit is on the move anyway, calling all of us to confess our sins, even when the sin is ... to not be angry enough. I confess my sin to all of you: I am too easily cynical when yet another of these killings takes place. I don't take immediate action, donating to an appropriate movement, calling my congresspeople, or marching in the streets. All these are worthy efforts that are needed at this time. Instead, too often, I just complain ... or keep silence. Abstentions go with the majority. Our silence is our complicity.

This week I made a personal donation to the Minnesota Freedom Fund to help cover bail for jailed protesters. And I am making a donation from the rector's discretionary fund to Chaplains on the Harbor, whose leaders note that the protesters in the streets are helping them accomplish work they're always trying to get done themselves. I make these donations because they will be helpful, but I also make them to atone for the sins of my unearned privilege. And I will continue to pray for reconciliation and pay attention to where the Holy Spirit is leading me -- and all of us.

Please pray for those whose lives have been lost, and for their families. Please pray for our country. Then give something of yourself. Give time, give money, lend your voice ... and where possible, put your boots on the ground and stand for justice.

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