“Theology and Peace” is an informal association of pastors, theologians, and lay people that seeks to advance the intellectual work of philosopher Rene Girard as the basis for transforming North American Christianity. On May 24-26, this group held its 9th annual conference in Northbrook, Illinois on the topic “People and Policing: Compassion for OUR Violence.” CNDP Project Coordinator Rev. Kathryn Ray offers the following reflection. “My son was about two years old. I had taken him to the park to play… Two little boys, one blond-haired, the other red-headed, ran down to the car where my son was playing. Seeing them coming, my son immediately jumped out… The little red-headed boy… saw my son looking on… With all the venom that a seven- or eight-year-old boy could muster, he pointed his finger at my son and said, ‘You better stop looking at us, before I put you in jail where you belong. … At two years old my son was already viewed as a criminal.” (pp. 86-7) In her book Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, womanist theologian Kelly Brown Douglas shares this story to illustrate the depth to which the criminalization of African-American men and boys has permeated the American psyche. In 2012, a neighborhood watch captain singled out Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, as “suspicious” character, pursued him, and killed him. In acquitting his killer, the jury determined this characterization to be justified. Trayvon Martin had not committed a crime. But like Kelly Brown Douglas’s son, he had been criminalized- he had been named “criminal” by another. The label led to his murder.
State legislators in Rhode Island are considering whether their state should become the fifth in the nation to legalize marijuana. On May 10, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Providence, Thomas J. Tobin, issued a public commentary in opposition. Rev. Alexander E. Sharp, Executive Director of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, offers this letter in response.
Our May 2 newsletter described the way in which harm reduction, including Insite, the only legal, supervised injection site in North America, can save lives and improve health. We offer the testimony of Rev. Edwin Robinson, Director of Urban Strategies and Live Free for Faith in Texas (part of the People’s National Network), who participated in this study tour to Vancouver, Canada on April 11-13.
By Rev. Kathryn Ray The season of Lent has fallen upon us once more, a time when many Christians call to mind the forty days Jesus spent facing temptation in the desert. Some of us may choose to symbolically sojourn with Jesus through this time by taking on a Lenten discipline. This season of fasting gives us an opportunity to consider the plight of those struggling with substance abuse through the lens of our own addictions.
Rev. Kathryn Ray, an ordained Baptist minister, is the Program Coordinator for Clergy for a New Drug Policy, She is a recent graduate of University of Chicago Divinity School and School of Social Service Administration, and also serves as Minister with Children and Youth at North Shore Baptist Church. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” With these words, Jesus spurns a Syrophoenician woman seeking healing for her daughter. His use of the word “dog,” an ethnic slur to refer to non-Jews, brands her as an outsider unfit to receive the mercy of God’s healing. These words tear at the hearts of all of us who see Jesus as a liberator, one who sought to bring the love of God to the marginalized. For the sake of my faith, I am glad the gospel does not stop there. And yet, in a country governed by policies begun during the War on Drugs, I too often see the story stopping there.