I have written a good bit in the past few years about the erosion of religious liberty in America, and that erosion continues, indeed accelerates. Religious liberty has never has an enemy as powerful and relentless as the Obama administration, and the situation is unlikely to improve when Hillary Clinton takes office. But as bad as the outlook is for freedom of conscience, it’s even worse for people in America who just happen to be black and therefore are utterly vulnerable to being stopped by the police for any reason or none — and shot for any reason or none. People who in effect have no rights, only good luck or bad luck. Alton Sterling’s luck was bad. Philando Castile’s luck was bad. And they had nothing to rely on except luck.
I think it may be time for me, and perhaps for others, to put the religious-freedom issue on the back burner for a while — not to ignore it, not to pretend that it doesn’t matter, not to cease to care — but to recognize that there are needs greater than ours, that require more of our immediate attention than we’ve been giving them. I don’t know; I’m not sure what to do, how to do triage here, how to weigh the dangers of a slow avalanche versus a fast one. But I am feeling very strongly that I have neighbors for whom I have not done enough.
In the meantime, my fellow white Christians, as we think and pray, let’s spend some time immersing ourselves imaginatively in the world of black America. Perhaps we might start by reading the essays in this collection edited by Jesmyn Ward, which is coming out in a few weeks. I’ve read one essay in it, by my friend Garnette Cadogan: it’s called “Black and Blue” and you can read about it here. It’s electrifying and depressing and … well, just read it, please.
And think. And pray. And act.