Local Religious Leaders Respond to Ferguson

Marie Griffith, PhD, editor; and Tiffany Stanley, managing editor, Religion & Politics (Journal of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics)

Since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, St. Louis County, on August 9, 2014, and especially since the November 24 announcement that the grand jury would not indict the police officer who shot him, the nation has been awash with anger and fear. Protests and calls for justice have amplified, most of them peaceful but some spilling over into destruction. Many people are insisting on concrete action and social change to meet the challenges and racial inequities of today; others, perhaps believing those inequities no longer real or relevant, resist such action along with the protests and call instead for healing. In the aftermath of these messy events and the political divisions they have highlighted, we invited a range of clergy and religious leaders in the St. Louis region to offer responses such as they have offered their own congregations. We asked: How are you and your faith community responding to these recent events? What does your religion call you to do during this time? Not everyone responded, but many did, despite the considerable duress they all face in this trying moment.

We present the following assorted reflections to our readers, which embody a spectrum of religious views and thoughtful approaches to the current situation in St. Louis and the nation. They are not representative of all viewpoints, but if there is a unified message to be found here, it is that these local faith leaders want unity for all people. It is a vision that will only be achieved when each person is treated with the same measure of fairness, justice, and human dignity as every other.

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