The death of George Floyd
Statement from Baptists Together Core Leadership Team
Like many in this country and across the world, we have been appalled and horrified by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by state police. We grieve with his family and community over his brutal mistreatment and the flagrant disregard for his humanity. We recognise that his inhumane treatment is symptomatic of a deeper devaluing of black lives, in particular black men and that his death has tapped into generations of anger and frustration as the result of systemic brutality and discrimination. We therefore completely understand the protests which have swept the United States as a natural and right consequence to this tragic injustice. But we hope and pray at this dangerous but pivotal moment, not only in the United States but in global history, that this will provide the urgent impetus to redress the social inequalities that has caused so much outrage. The ‘dream’ inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King has yet to be fulfilled but we commit to working with good people of all persuasions to see it realised not only in the US but wherever injustice manifests itself in our world. His reminder that ‘injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere,’ is a rallying call to action because we are all affected by this tragic event. All people, of all races and faiths, have the right to breathe.
Furthermore, we were also dismayed by the use of force to disperse a peaceful protest outside the White House to facilitate a political photo opportunity in front of a neighbouring church. We strongly believe that these attempts to co-opt the church and the scriptures are incompatible with the Christian values at the heart of the gospel. We thus would urge the President and the people of America to draw once again on the foundational values enshrined in the Declaration of Independence that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. In the light of this timeless statement, unlawfulness, inhumanity and injustice can never be right outcomes.
As the Core Leadership Team of Baptists Together, we are conscious of our privilege. All except one member of this Team are – at this present time – ethnically white. We too accept that there are structural inequalities within our own denomination and that we must work harder to address them. Whilst we cannot personally understand the anger which many are feeling, having not experienced the routine discrimination faced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic peoples, we stand in solidarity as we fight against racism and oppression in all its forms. Dissent is deeply embedded in our DNA and, in this instance, we are strongly supportive of freedom of expression and a plurality of views, and, conversely, stand against institutions which persecute and oppress.
We call our churches to prayer and action as we continue to seek God’s kingdom in this country and across the world; holding a vision of a just, right and enduring peace (shalom) between all peoples.
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.
3 June 2020
The Core Leadership Team (CLT) is an expression of covenant and interdependence for us as Baptists. It draws together many of those offering leadership across our Movement (Regional Team Leaders, College Principals, Specialist Team Leaders, President, Treasurer, General Secretary, the Moderators of Council and the Trustee Board, together with a leader from each of our current priority areas) and its purpose is to perceive what God is doing, to encourage flourishing local churches and to model together what it means to be a Kingdom Movement.
CLT is a new team that has been created recently in place of the Baptist Steering Group and is part of our exploring of a 'dual operating' approach for Baptists Together