The muffled screams of a dying 43-year-old husband, father and grandfather named Eric Garner…”I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”…are absolutely haunting. The coming silence from most white congregations in their worship services will be even more haunting. In the silence, we will discover one of the worst kept secrets in religious life…white churches do not care about the violence that is consistently perpetuated against black people in our society.
How many more black people will have to die before the white church takes their lives seriously? One does not have to watch the video more than once to realize that a New York Police Officer is directly responsible for the death of Garner. One shouldn’t have to think too hard to realize by our omission so are we.
Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well. A racial and ethnic divide separated Jews and Samaritans yet there was something about that well that fostered conversation. I am afraid that most white churches omit thinking about the well…let alone making a trip there.
If the name Eric Garner is not mentioned during your church services, then your church is complicit in the next brutal killing of an unarmed black person. For some this might sound harsh…if so…I would recommend that you think about the last time your church prayed for an end to the consistent brutality black people face in our society. In the light of the obvious reality of never mentioning brutality against black people for most churches, perhaps such a statement is not harsh enough.
The good news is that there is a well my friends…from it flows the living waters of justice and reconciliation. If you have the love and courage to go to that well with Jesus, Eric Garner will be standing there to offer you redemption for your sins of omission.