Black Lives Matter is also a moral and a religious understanding

BRATTLEBORO — On May 31, Centre Congregational Church participated in a rally against police brutality, in solidarity with people of color in our country - people who, after 400 years, still struggle with systematic racism.

As I was setting-up the outdoor seating, someone drove by and, seeing the sign in front of the church, shouted from the car window, “All lives matter!”

I found myself taking a deep breath and, remembering words that seemed apt, prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are saying” (Luke 23:34).

Thinking more about it, several examples arose underlying the problem I have with the “all lives matter” retort, one that, on the surface, might appear reasonable.

A member of our church went to the hospital two weeks ago needing heart surgery. Imagine if the doctor attending her insisted “No! All organs matter!” and thereafter gave the patient the choice of an operation on all her organs or no operation at all. We would declare the doctor incompetent and even sinister.

If, as a fire chief, I were called, sirens blazing, to a neighborhood where a house was on fire, and, upon arrival, I offered the desperate onlookers a choice between doing nothing or dousing all the houses in the neighborhood with water while proclaiming “all homes matter!,” I would be declared inept and likely relieved of my duties.

Yes, all organs and all homes do matter. And yes, all lives do matter. But the crisis at hand right now concerns that specific organ and that specific home.

Black Lives Matter is not simply a political slogan, it is also a moral and a religious understanding. Imagine ourselves sitting with Jesus as he preached his Sermon on the Mount. Imagine if after Jesus declared, “Blessed are the poor” (Luke 6:20), we responded, “No, Jesus. You got it all wrong. Blessed are all the people.”

Jesus would take a deep breath and pray: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what are saying” (Luke 23:34).

Black Lives Matter.

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