Cutting straight to the chase here: Peaceful protest is protected by the U.S. Constitution. PROTESTING IS NOT THE SAME AS RIOTING. Protesting is also a spiritual practice.
I was asked in a church interview in 1988, “Can you think of any reason why you might protest something in a public gathering?” It was an interesting question to ask a pastoral candidate. I thought for a moment and responded, “Any reason? There are many reasons why I might protest something for the sake of the Gospel. Wouldn’t you?”
I sounded so confidently evangelical and social justice-y, didn’t I? At that point in my life, I don’t know that I had ever protested anything in public. I voted. I wrote letters to my representatives. But I was a rule follower who was taught to be ladylike and marching with signs seemed a little radical. It never occurred to me that protesting is a spiritual practice.
Consider what Jesus did for the sake of the Gospel. (And he was actually a little destructive in this story.)
Today, protesters are confused with looters and definitions have become political. One side is all about Black Lives Matter and the peaceful protests asking for justice for George Floyd, Brionna Taylor, and now Jacob Blake. The other side equates protesting with breaking windows and setting buildings on fire.
Senator Mitt Romney joined evangelical Christians to peacefully protest the death of George Floyd on June 7th. People of many different faiths have joined protests here in Charlotte, NC where I live. Why do we do this?
- Because we want to express our support for mistreated people.
- Because we want to draw attention to injustice. (Still – nobody has been arrested for the March 13th murder of Breonna Taylor in her own bed in a case of mistaken identity. Wouldn’t you be enraged if that were your daughter or sister? Wouldn’t you ask for justice for her?)
- Because we want to gather in unity to support each other.
- Because peaceful actions often change policy. (In Charlotte, the police will no longer be buying chemical weapons after protests in June.)
Can you think of any reason why you might protest something in a public gathering? I hope we all would, for the sake of the Gospel.
We pray. We read Holy Scripture. We gather for worship. We serve our neighbors. And we stand up for what’s right because that’s what God commands. These are just some of the ways we practice our faith.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
Top image from Senator Romney’s Twitter feed. Bottom image from the 2017 Women’s March in Chicago.
The PC(USA) Directory for Worship lists protest as a form of prayer, doesn’t it?
Yes, it does: “Prayer may also be expressed in action, through public witness and protest, deeds of compassion, and other forms of disciplined service.”
Directory for Worship 5.0102.