Check out this great column by Mark Pinsky, former religion report for The Orlando Sentinel. Pinsky writes in a CNN column titled “Where’s the white church outrage over Trayvon Martin?“:
Few if any white clergy have spoken up to demand that the killing be fully investigated. None can be seen standing by the African-American preachers calling for justice, or marching with Martin’s family members. Why?
As someone who covered this area’s faith community for 15 years, I don’t think the answer is racism as much as it is cultural callousness. Week in and week out, the violent deaths and disappearances of poor, black and brown people – especially immigrants – merit a one- or two-paragraph story in The Orlando Sentinel’s (my old newspaper’s) police blotter. So when a middle-class black teen is gunned down, the reaction tends to be a shrug of the shoulders.
But in the case of Trayvon Martin, the white religious community – including those affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, this area’s dominant affiliation – has so far been silent and invisible.
Some black Christians are beginning to question this silence. At a predominately African-American Seventh-day Adventist congregation last Saturday, during a previously scheduled discussion of “racial progress,” a man stood up and asked why his denomination had not yet spoken or acted on the Trayvon Martin controversy.
The Florida Council of Churches released a statement of support for the family of Trayvon Martin on March 21. Here is a snippet:
On behalf of our churches, we wish to convey our deepest condolences to the family of Trayvon Martin….We call upon law enforcement in Sanford to pursue justice in this matter with deliberate effectiveness. The investigation into Trayvon Martin’s death should proceed swiftly without racial bias so that the matter is not continually tried in the media. The Martin family and the community at large need protection from vigilantism and assurance that Florida’s streets are open to all people without respect to the color of their skin. We call upon Sanford authorities to take actions that demonstrate both racial fairness and concern for the safety of the community.
This statement was signed by Florida faith leaders representing various mainline Protestant denominations including the United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA, Moravian Church, Church of the Brethren, Society of Friends and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
The NAACP requested that Franklin Graham stand with civil rights leaders in calling for justice for Trayvon Martin. Graham reportedly has agreed.
A rally was scheduled for tonight (Thursday) at Shiloh Baptist Church in Sanford, Florida.
The Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference (SDPC) – an organization founded in 2003 that represents progressive African-American faith leaders and their congregations – has published “A Litany for Children Slain by Violence” and has announced a community rally at Sanford’s First United Methodist Church on Monday, March 26 at 4pm.