Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lutherans Concerned/North America on the Death of Trayvon Martin

Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) expresses its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of seventeen-year old Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot on February 26.

LC/NA stands for justice, equality, and full inclusion for all in church and in society.

No one should be suspected of criminal intent or criminal actions simply because of their clothes, skin color, socio-economic status, sexual orientation or gender identity. No one should be followed and confronted because of differences in their clothes, skin color, socio-economic status, sexual orientation or gender identity. No one should be threatened with deadly force on the basis of such discrimination.

More importantly, no one should have the legal right to use deadly force without having to subsequently and substantially prove to authorities that there was a credible belief of immediate danger.

It is highly appropriate that law enforcement and justice authorities are opening significant investigations into the actions leading up to and during a confrontation that would not have happened had George Zimmerman complied with the police admonition to discontinue following Trayvon Martin.

Laws that are enacted must be examined carefully before passage to ensure there are no unintended consequences that preclude holding people publicly and legally accountable for their actions, particularly where the use of deadly force is involved.

The burden falls on public officials to find ways to properly investigate and hold accountable those who hide behind provisions of sloppy legislation. Legislatures have the burden to quickly correct such deficiencies in enacted legislation.

LC/NA believes that as people of faith, our commitments to community, justice, and love of neighbor call us to address the complex issues that have arisen in the recent intense, public discussion about the death of Trayvon Martin. Important questions about gun policy, police practices, and attitudes about race and class need to be carefully examined. However, our commitments as people of faith also require that we resist any temptation to judge individual cases based on incomplete information, public opinion, and speculation.

As a way to begin discussion, LC/NA encourages all individuals and congregations to access the following ELCA resources:

The social statement on Race, Ethnicity, and Culture at http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Social-Statements/Race-Ethnicity-Culture.aspx

A draft of a possible social statement on Criminal Justice at http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Social-Statements-in-Process/Criminal-Justice.aspx

A message on Community Violence at
http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Messages/Community-Violence.aspx

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