Florida resident George Zimmerman’s July 13 acquittal of murder and manslaughter charges in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has sparked an emotionally charged national discussion about race relations, gun laws, and America's judicial system.
Several United Methodist leaders, including Bishop Thomas Bickerton and Bishop Ken Carter, also added their perspectives through the UMC Connections blog.
Through the Holston Conference Facebook page, Holston readers were recently invited to share their own responses. Two pastors did.
Rev. Brad Scott, First United Methodist Church, Bluefield, Va.
It's just sad. I recall the words of the great English poet and cleric John Donne who said, "The death of any person diminishes us all." We should reflect on that. Regardless of what the justice system did or didn't do, someone died. That is the tragedy that is behind it all. It didn't have to happen that way, but it did. It is just incredibly sad for everybody.
Rev. Aldana Allen, Holston clergy now serving Durham UMC in Shelby, N.C. and Philadelphia UMC in Lawndale, N.C.
"Now the other myth that gets around is the idea that legislation cannot really solve the problem and that it has no great role to play in this period of social change because you’ve got to change the heart and you can’t change the heart through legislation. You can’t legislate morals. The job must be done through education and religion.
Well, there’s half-truth involved here.
Certainly, if the problem is to be solved then in the final sense, hearts must be changed. Religion and education must play a great role in changing the heart. But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless.
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also."
-- Martin Luther King Jr., Western Michigan University, Dec. 18, 1963
Profiling is dehumanizing and immoral. The law cannot stop how a person feels, but it can agree that such tactics are against civil society; and I think that is pretty important also.