While I am no legal expert on the details of the court decision yesterday or whether the charges against him and each of the other officers were carefully made or effectively prosecuted, nor a spiritual expert on the officers' motives, nor an administrative expert on Baltimore police training, one fact continues to remain clear: No one has yet to be held accountable for the death of Freddie Gray who was alive and well before being detained and put into that police wagon. That same fact still applies to almost ALL of the young African-American men and women who have been shot or choked or beaten to death by police or who have died in police custody --despite all the publicity about these police crimes. And that is why there is so little trust in communities of color for the police that are supposed to serve them and keep them safe.
From Ferguson, Missouri, to Charleston, South Carolina, communities are suffering the lethal consequences of our collective silence about racial injustice. The church should be a source of truth in a nation that has lost its way. As the dominant religion in the United States, Christianity is directly implicated when we Christians fail to speak more honestly about the legacy of racial inequality.
State officials in New York are reforming their policy of keeping people convicted of non-violent offenses in solitary confinement. Some hail the decision; others, including corrections officers, object, saying that solitary confinement is necessary to maintain control, and they say that keeping an individual in solitary confinement is not inhumane.
"Our life together can be better." That's the opening sentence of an important new book by Jim Wallis called On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned About Serving the Common Good. Wallis wrote it while taking a three-month sabbatical last year, in the midst of the 2012 election -- a break that allowed him to get a broader perspective on what was going on in American public life. The book draws inspiration from Abraham Lincoln's famous line: "[M]y concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side..." For Wallis, the key to being on God's side is a focus on the common good. But, as Wallis saw vividly during his sabbatical, that doesn't seem to be the direction things are currently headed in our country. Instead of strengthening our commitment to equality, social justice, and our sense of unity as a nation, our public and political discourse is breaking us apart.