The late-February Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida has stirred up both righteous anger and thoughtful debate over what self-defense means and what the current state of racism in America is. (Trayvon is pictured here.)
The senior pastor of my own congregation, for instance, spoke movingly about this matter in his sermon this past Sunday, describing a Martin-related rally he and his family attended in a park on Kansas City's Country Club Plaza. (Click here and then pick the April 1 sermon.)
And a national coalition of Christian denominations has issued a statement asking churches to use the Martin incident as an opportunity to discuss racism and what it costs everyone.
I especially liked this part of what the leaders of Churches Uniting in Christ said:
"We cannot remain silent as our country once again struggles with the senseless killing of an unarmed young African-American boy. We write because we cannot remain silent at the continued 'criminalization' of black and brown peoples with laws that give license to people to shoot first and ask questions later."
These public events often cause people to degenerate into slogan-shouting and such, but they need not. Indeed, they should opportunities to draw us into deep conversations about what faith compells us to say and do about how people are treated.
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MORE FRINGE RELIGIOUS QUESTIONS
Just as Barack Obama continues to have to answer ridiculous questions about whether he's a Christian or a Muslim, so Mitt Romney continues to have to defend himself against people who want to criticize Mormonism, such as this case in Wisconsin. Come on, people. Can we have some sanity and reasonableness?
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online. To read it, click here.