Spiritual Abuse and Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

Two men were killed by police authorities this week. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. If you are like me, you want to know how and why this happened because you can’t sit in the truth that this is the way the world is and this is the way the world will be because #blacklivesmatter.

In the case of Philando Castile, the name of the officer involved has not been released.In the case of Alton Sterling, the names of the police officers involved in the fatal shooting have been released. Information has been released about Howie Lake II. He was put on leave in 2014 for his involvement in another shooting while on duty. He also won the “life saving” award in 2015.

And if you continue to dig, then you can find out that he went to a private, Christian high school called Parkview Baptist High School in Baton Rouge. A school that upholds the “Old and New Testament verbally-inspired by God and inerrant in the original writings.”  A school whose students are “committed to a biblical worldview and Christian values.”

The intermingling of church and state has serious ramifications in how our society and public institutions operate. When we have police officers outside our churches controlling traffic, protecting people of certain churches, a powerful message is communicated. When we have security guards in some communities of faith and in others, a stranger is welcomed in regardless of skin color, we know something is not right.

If we think religion doesn’t impact politics and government authority in America, we aren’t being merely naive, we are being complacent with communities of faith who teach some are better than others, whether that be in regards to race, gender, or sexuality. This is spiritual abuse.

Churches must have the difficult conversations that challenge privilege and instead loving our neighbors as ourselves. Churches must have the difficult conversation about welcoming all people in radical hospitality regardless of race, gender, or sexuality.

Churches must not be the place we were go to feel safe, but where we go to find Jesus. And we will only find Jesus in our churches if our churches include the people Jesus fellowshipped with, not the religious authorities, not the government authorities, but the ones oppressed, excluded, and yes even killed by those authorities.