The Ferguson Unrest has brought violence, hatred and racial divide to the US in a time when we all need to be united in thanksgiving. Outspoken Christians leaders have spoken up. With wisdom and clarity, Chicago megachurch pastor, author and well-known speaker James MacDonald urges Christians not to take sides.
Michael Brown was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9. Initially portrayed as an innocent abroad, it was later found that he had committed a robbery. A grand jury believed Wilson's testimony that Brown had run at him with violent intent and that shooting him was a legitimate response to a threat.
Brown was black, Wilson was white. In a sign of the polarisation of some parts of American society, the refusal of the jury to commit Wilson for trial became an instant symbol of uneradicated racism. A white police officer can shoot a black man and nothing happens
Chicago Pastor James MacDonald urges Christians not to choose sides. In a long note on Instagram, MacDonald writes: "None of us really knows exactly what happened in the Ferguson shooting. Sadder is that even many Christ followers don't seem to want to know. What we appear to prefer is lining up without nuanced analysis entirely on one side or the other. "All police are driven by racial predjudice and out to get racial minorities" - oh please! Or "all police actions are justifiable and there is no abuse of authority or pent up feelings of righteous anger in our urban centers" - oh please!"
"If Michael Brown was justifiably shot - do we deny that many die unjustly in these environments just because this is not a good example of police brutality? If Michael Brown was not justifiably shot, do we deny that many officers rightly fear for their lives at thankless jobs in no win environments and have to make life or death decisions in a fraction of a second? Can you let your heart be moved with compassion and seek to be moved for the impossible predicaments of real people on both sides of this?"
Rather, the megachurch pastor urges us to choose the side of Christ and exercise His compassion and care. "Can you let your heart be moved with compassion and seek to be moved for the impossible predicaments of real people on both sides of this? Come on Christians - the essence of Christ's compassion is hearing what the person in pain is saying and feeling and walking a few feet in their shoes. We are called to compassion for everyone [on] all sides of this escalation not taking a single simplistic viewpoint and thereby 'crossing by on the other side of the road'."