Eugene Cho

Please don’t ignore it. Five ways that Christians and churches must engage Ferguson and Michael Brown’s death.

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I have so much emotions and thoughts in my mind, heart, and body – in light of the oh-so-much that is going on all around the world – including the utterly tragic, brutal, and unnecessary “death” of Michael Brown.

But I thought it would be helpful to share a few thoughts how churches, Christians, and leaders can be engaging the events of this past week in their respective churches – not just for this weekend but for the future. I’m not suggesting that pastors have to completely alter their sermons but to altogether ignore the injustice of Michael Brown’s death would be altogether foolish.

To be blunt and I say this respectfully,

The integrity of the church is at stake because when it’s all said and done, it’s not a race issue for me, it’s a Gospel issue. It’s a Kingdom issue. We shouldn’t even let isolated issues in themselves hijack the purpose of the church. The Gospel of Christ is so extraordinary that it begins to inform (and we pray, transform) all aspects of our lives. So, in other words, we talk about race and racism because we believe in the Gospel

So, here are five suggestions for Christians, leaders, and churches:

1. Don’t ignore.

Silence, it itself, is a statement.

In some cases, it may be a powerful expression of wisdom but this is not that case. To say nothing, to pray nothing…is to communicate that it’s not a big deal. To say nothing, to pray nothing…is to tell your congregants – especially your black congregants and others of color, “C’mon. You’re taking this too seriously. Suck it up. Let’s just worship Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.”

I know much has been written on the interwebs but this piece by my friend, Austin Channing Brown, is one of those must reads: Black Bodies White Souls.

2. Name it.

Now, let me be clear. I don’t know all the details – not just because my family and I have been on our summer family vacation and almost oblivious to the early days of this past week but because the full details have yet to be shared, shown, distributed – let alone the integrity of those details.

But when it’s all said and done. When all the finger pointing and screaming subsides; When the focus on the looting and violence gets rightly placed back at the crux of the matter, what we have left is:

the death of an 18-year-old unarmed young black man

Let that sink in.

Because of the sin of racism and the abhorrent history of slavery in this country, we still fight the myth of the suspicious, scary black man.

3. Explain that this is a justice issue.

Because an unarmed 18-year-old black young man is dead.
Because an unarmed 18-year-old young black man is dead.
Because an unarmed 18-year-old young black man is dead.

Furthermore, per this further research:

In a town that’s over 60% black:

  • The police chief and the mayor are white
  • Just once city council member is black
  • Just one school board member is black
  • Just 3 of Ferguson’s 53 police officers are black

In 2013 in Ferguson

  • 483 black people were arrested, 36 white people were arrested
  • 92% of searches and 86% of car stops involved blacks
  • When police officers stop citizens in Ferguson, they’re almost always black. But white citizens are more often caught carrying illegal items, like weapons or drugs. 1 in 3 white people were carrying contraband while 1 in 5 black people were carrying contraband.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words are apropos – even still today – and especially to the Church:

Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they do not know each other; they do not know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated. 

Religion deals with both earth and heaven, both time and eternity.  Religion operates not only on the vertical plane but also on the horizontal.  It seeks not only to integrate men with God but to integrate men with men and each man with himself… Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.

4. Explain that this is a body of Christ issue.

For many – especially those who aren’t ‘Black’, this is simply news. But for others – especially in the African American community – this is something entirely different.

In Michael Brown, they see a familiar story.
All too common of a story.
An ongoing common story that seems to have no end.
Some may call it a nightmare.
In Michael Brown, they see Trayvon Martin.
In Michael Brown, they see a son, a husband, a father, a nephew, or perhaps…even themselves.

So, I ask again, if our black sisters and brothers in Christ are angry, grieving, hurting, and mourning…can’t we at least listen, seek to understand and mourn with them?

Are we the body of Christ or not?

We lament…

5. Explain the hope and invitation of the Gospel…

This is our unique contribution as followers of Christ. It’s not our contribution because in itself, it is the hope of the Gospel.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28

God has a call and invitation to the body of Christ and we can’t ignore this. If the events of this past week hasn’t convicted you to take this invitation and call truly to heart, I urge you to pour a bucket of cold ice over yourself and WAKE UP. Digest these words from 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God,who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

I can write so much more but let me leave you with these thoughts:

This isn’t a one a time prayer.
It shouldn’t just be a one time message.

This is about the church – the body of Christ, the bride of Christ – to truly take these words to heart and commit themselves to the long and laborious journey of living into the fullness of the image of God.

It’s about asking hard questions and committing to harder steps.
It’s about justice, shalom, and human flourishing.

In short, it’s about the Kingdom of God and I can’t think of a more compelling reason.

And lastly, pray.

OK. There’s more than 5. And it truth, there’s more than 6.

Reconciliation is painful because in essence, we have to confess to our collective brokenness.

And this is why … reconciliation … requires prayer. It’s a long journey and commitment but to do and engage without prayer is to convince ourselves that we can do this on our own.

And we can’t do this on our own.

Pray for all involved. Pray for Michael Brown’s family. Pray for the police officer – Darren Wilson – and his family. Pray for all law enforcement. Pray for the churches in Ferguson. Pray for all of us. We can’t do it alone. 

Lord, in your mercy.

God bless you.

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75 Responses

  1. aldoyle2013 says:

    Once again I celebrate your wisdom,heart and courage. Thanks for being a leading voice in caring for ALL our brothers and sisters.

  2. Joy says:

    Provocative….brilliant…necessary. Thank you! Sharing.

  3. Rachel says:

    Lets just say he was killed in cold blood, why is the first assumption racism? There are 100 other reasons why people are murdered.

    We have to be very careful to scream racism and protest every time a black person is killed by a white. Because that never solves any issues either.

    • John Anthony says:

      I’m sorry Rachel did you bother to read the article?

      • KathyKathy says:

        Yes, she did, and so did I. The article makes the assumption that hatred for blacks is the reason for this young man’s death. Statistics are offered to prove to us that hatred for blacks is the reason for this young man’s death.

        So now let’s all pray. This is the one item in the article that believers can cling to.

    • John Anthony says:

      Specifically :
      town that’s over 60% black:
      ◦The police chief and the mayor are white
      ◦Just once city council member is black
      ◦Just one school board member is black
      ◦Just 3 of Ferguson’s 53 police officers are black

      In 2013 in Ferguson
      ◦483 black people were arrested, 36 white people were arrested
      ◦92% of searches and 86% of car stops involved blacks
      ◦When police officers stop citizens in Ferguson, they’re almost always black. But white citizens are more often caught carrying illegal items, like weapons or drugs. 1 in 3 white people were carrying contraband while 1 in 5 black people were carrying contraband.

      If none of that screams racism to you, may i humbly suggest you get your hearing checked.

      • Jeremie We says:

        Funny, black people voted them into office.

      • Kathy says:

        What it screams to me is that out of a town of roughly 15,000, only 1,500 people voted. And they voted for the police chief, mayor, the city council, the school board.

        And are you saying that you don’t think the blacks who live there are qualified to be policemen? or that they are forbidden from applying for the police academy because whites prevent them from doing so?

        • John Anthony says:

          Hi Kathy here is a response, point for point

          What it screams to me is that out of a town of roughly 15,000, only 1,500 people voted. And they voted for the police chief, mayor, the city council, the school board.

          And are you saying that you don’t think the blacks who live there are qualified to be policemen? or that they are forbidden from applying for the police academy because whites prevent them from doing so?
          Let’s dissect your comment shall we? First the population of that town is 20K+ not 15K secondly of that amount two thirds are African American, juxtapose this with the fact that no, generally speaking in an off year like most Americans they do not vote. Are they represented in the city government I would say barely when five out of six council members are white. Would I believe that the mayor of Ferguson cares about their feelings and concerns, based on some of his comments of late I would have to respond no. Considering that the Fire Dept, and Police heads are elected would I think they are for the most part shut out of those jobs? I would have to say definitely of a 53 person police dept, only four are of African American descent if the situation were reversed what would you say? Would you argue that white people in the town are not voting, or are not qualified, I realize that you did not say that but I want you to hear the utter foolishness of the question as posed.

  4. Ronald says:

    Before I say anything else, I would like to thank Eugene for this reminder of the things he mentioned in this blog. However, I’d rather see people get fired up for the children and young people in urban communities and the violence that is going on there. It’s just unfortunate that a lot of people are giving this so much attention when in the city of Chicago there are murders going on every day and no one is outraged about that. It’s just business as usual. Now as a black man, I KNOW there is bias against me and that might indeed come from the police if I even show a hint of attitude if I come in contact with them. I just hate this whole Brown situation because no one really knows what happened. We get some account from one of his friends that could be highly questionable. I’m sure the police were overly aggressive, but what did Brown do? That part we don’t know and that is what I’d like to know before I get behind any movement. I want people to get behind the kids and young people that are in the community now, let’s help them where they’re at!

    • Isha KI says:

      But why? Why do we need proof (again) that an officer was NOT justified in killing an unarmed civilian? Why? Why is the victim the one who always has be above reproach?

      I have two young geniuses: one’s a witty 10 year old who speaks his mind, the other is 14 and is a soft but deep spoken, almost 6ft tall young man.

      Why do I have to worry that every move, every word, every action has to be perfect for them to live long enough to see a natural death? Why do I have to be concerned that their gifts could be what puts them in danger?

      Chicago, Dallas, Orlando, Detroit – they’re doing something, they are! Just because it doesn’t make national news doesn’t mean it’s not happening – it just doesn’t matter to main stream. That doesn’t mean it’s business as usual for the rest of us; we’re watching with baited breath, praying with tears in our eyes. Praying that God will put an end to this madness. Gods message, the answer to our prayers, is in that crowd; He’s there with them now. As we should all be.

      They’re loud, they made eveyone listen. God Bless Them for being loud enough to be heard across the world! You have a choice to make – regardless of the demons that have their own agenda (no matter the result) – YOU have a choice – to be part of history or a part from history. The time is now….

  5. Erika says:

    Excellent, thank you. Timely for those of us writing sermons and prayers for tomorrow.

  6. Tracy says:

    Unfortunately the guy turns out to be a thief, resisted arrest and tried to take an officers gun. How is the church suppose to address that?

    • Human says:

      1. Please do some actual research and get informed before spreading misinformation. All eyewitness accounts contradict the sole account of the police officer, who is the only one who claims that Mike Brown was aggressive.

      2. His involvement in the robbery has ZERO RELEVANCE to whether he deserved to DIE. Please check yourself. Just because others are trying to engage in character assassination doesn’t mean you need to fall victim.

    • John Anthony says:

      Tracy, does stealing 10.00 in cigars merit being shot six times, two in the head, one of which occured at the top of the head, that shot being the fatal one, the one that indicated that Brown had his head lowered. Elaborate please on how stealing cigars, and as far as resisting arrest that is something not found in the information as given thus far. so how does one justify the end result, is this how the police are to treat citizens? I am just curious as to your sense of justice: steal 10 bucks in merchandise, get shot six times four times in the hand and arm, an two times in the head, once in the left eye, and the final one at the top of the head as you are falling, which indicates murder not standard police prcedure, unless the intent was to kill but so far your argument does not meet rational standards. One does not murder a suspect for stealing, anyway the main agent provocatuer has taken that argument away from you to begin with because according to him the office was ignorant of the theft, so then what was the reason that Officer Wilson would have to murder Mr Brown? It wasn’t the theft, because Wilson was ignorant of this, it couldn’t be resisting arrest, because so far no evidence of that has been presented. So then what could it be?

      • JPoole says:

        With the facts out now, something we all should have waited for, I hope you see this tragedy in a more objective way. I too was skeptical of this case when I heard Browns accomplice state right after he was shot in the back. While that was debunked by three forensic scientists, that guys testimony is worthless and was proof he was out to stoke anger for his personal benefit (fame). It is tragic Brown lost his life, but his actions, aggressive and bullying behavior resulted in the tragic consequences. Browns racist beliefs are evident in his rap lyrics (he was an aspiring rapper, google the lyrics), he was clearly a large/strong individual and did not hesitate to bully as evidenced by his shoving of the shop owner just moments before. Wilson had never drawn his weapon in the line of duty, but that fateful day had to down a charging, aggressive, bully who was also under the influence of MJ. To reduce these instances everyone should start obeying and respecting the law. This starts with Christian faith and based on sound families. Our questions should start with why Michael was not being raised by his parents, but his Grandmother. Why the intense anger and racism Brown had towards white people clearly evident in his rap lyrics. Why an 18 year old thinks its okay to push a small shop owner into a rack of chips then wrestle and charge a police officer. As I look at the Garner case I believe that cop was overly aggressive and trying to be the tough guy, this based on the video evidence. However, this Ferguson case is clearly a false narrative based on the initial comments by Browns accomplice, “shot in back and hands up”. We must look at these cases objectively and base on facts, rather than get whipped up in media frenzy.

  7. MIchael M. says:

    Maybe churches should start preaching on how this country was founded on prayerful men. Or the fact they built biblical based principles into the constitution. Or the fact it was for moral and religious. Or the fact, harvard, Princeton and these ivy leagues schools were built for ministers. Or the fact our congress used to fund missionaries back in the day. Or Andrew Jackson saying this republic’s bedrock was the bible. Or the fact that George Washington said it was the duty of the nations to seek god almighty’ providence and guidance. Or the fact that they fought for religious tyranny. Or the fact that congress recommended the bible to be taught in all schools. Or the fact that websters dictionary originally founded by the man recommended the bible. Or the fact up until the 60’s prayer and bible was in schools. Or the fact that FDR said you cannot look back without recognizing the bible as it’s source for influence and prosperity. Or Thomas Jefferson saying Christianity is th best religion. Seriously, when are the churches going to standup for what is right and start taking back this country? Instead of laying down. Yes it’s all about Jess but wouldn’t Jesus be interested in politics, the workplace, schools and this country. Isn’t Jesus interested or still in covenant with Israel. Weren’t we a faithful provider and helper of Israel up until Obama. I believe the men who fought and died to build it believed it to be a country that would honor the good lord. The song that says, “God shed his grace on thee” mmmmm. I’m seeing this stuff preach on the pulpit. Not many influential pastors are speaking about how the godly built this and yet the “so called godly” are doing nothing. I see too much grace taken for our actions and not enough justice being served. We was water down gospel or the walk to please a generation of light hearted people. Some of the godliest people aren’t the pastors. And people not willing to step outside their comfort and see how far we have fallen and do the hard things in life.

    Pastor I was hope you are reading and can do something about it. I’m just a simple man who done some research on this and tried but no one listens. No one understands how we used to tub our faces in prayer, scripture, laws, schools, work, etc to The Lord God Almighty. I see a lot of talking in the Protestants but not enough doing.

    • Isha KI says:

      90% of what you were promoting as the best building years of our country…. 40% of my ancestral makeup were in chains. You can not preach of the past, of the good-ol’ days without acknowledging then, that those prayerful men wrote a constitution in which they considered a fellow human being 3/5ths of a human being. You can not talk about the baths of prayers and love from those times when at the same time, people were clubbed, raped and torn apart from their families and countries. “Taking back the country” – from whom? I want to understand, I want to believe you truly come from a place of consciousness, since you say you’ve done your research… But what are you looking for? What questions are you researching? Native Americans, Chinese, the original indigenous people that were pushed down into Mexico, Africans – all these people bled or were bled dry to build this country, forced to lose their names, identifies, religions and lives. But you want your country “back”… Back to what?

      I want peace, security, safety. I want my children to explore our great nation and see the world. I want the world to accept them and love them the way I do. I don’t want them taken away from me. I want to die surrounded by my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at peace because we made these choices today to make that tomorrow possible. Going back means great death… Going forward means prosperity for all with love in their hearts. Let’s move forward together.

  8. Jay Wiley says:

    If you take so much offense at the death of one “unarmed young black man,” then you should take equal offense at every other life taken too early in (1) the Syrian conflict (2) the Ukranian conflict (3) The Israeli vs. Palestinian conflict (4) the Ebola outbreak in Africa and so on and so forth.

    I wish I could see civic leaders like yourself, of all colors, ethnicities, and gender et al, take a doctrinal stance on a universal platform that espouse love for all — even in this case — the white police officer who shot the “unarmed young black man” as you so eloquently described him, too many times.

    The language of definition you chose to employ lets all of us know where your heart is.

    Forgiveness, right? Somewhere in the bible? Presumed innocent, right, somewhere in the criminal statute? Right?

    • John Anthony says:

      Ebola a disease, Mike Brown, murder victim huge differnce Jay. Your argument is not apt sir, try again.

      • Jay Wiley says:

        I shall not back down.

        (1) Would you have had anything else to say if I had not mentioned Ebola?

        (2) What of it? What makes you believe racism is a cause celebre over a virus that kills indiscriminately?

        (3) Why do you uphold racism as the ultimate form of prejudice and bias? How is one life that was taken, supposedly by racial bias, worthy of great outcry, violent demonstrations, and looting?

        (4) What makes you think that people who were killed in Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria did not suffer and even worse than your favorite son? What makes his death so special before the eyes of God? Shouldn’t you and Pastor Cho be heart-broken over ALL deaths that ended prematurely because of hate? You answer me that question.

        (5) Why is black slavery so special? Human history is full of examples of human enslavement. This is not unique no matter how hard you want to believe it. What is at the root seems to go far beyond what you seem to have in mind.

        Since you picked on my “incorrect parallel,” don’t you think at least this virus is nobler than racism, since it has no regard for life, in all of its colors, age, and sex?

        Unshackle yourself from your own racism my dear sir. Do you think Dr. Martin Luther King had it in mind for people like you to cling on to skin color when we mourn the deaths of innocents around the world including the US? Including Ferguson, Missouri?

        When you troll around the Web typing angry retorts at everyone who spread hatred and when you finally break down and beat your chest at every death of a child whose life was taken prematurely, you would have finally arrived at the mountain top from whose peak MLK shamed every human being on earth to do better.

        You sir, are not.

        • John Anthony says:

          Hiya Jay, be advised I dealt with your last entry point for point, enjoy the read…

          (1) Would you have had anything else to say if I had not mentioned Ebola?
          A. Yes I would your diatribe about the issue still was not apt in that it did not deal with the issue which is the point of the conversation being had. You sir went so far as to attempt to change the scope of the conversation without having the decency of engaging or even alerting others that you were no longer going to deal with the subject matter at hand but rather hijack the conversation and engage in one that is not relevant to the present conversation.

          (2) What of it? What makes you believe racism is a cause celebre over a virus that kills indiscriminately?
          A. Because sir, racism is at the heart of the conversation we are currently engaged in, it is the point of the conversation, were all things equal sir this conversation would be moot. Tell me why is it that you refuse to believe that racism is at the heart of the matter here. Are you truly that blind as to not see that there is a difference in the way that African Americans are dealt with in this country, sir are you truly that blind?
          (3) Why do you uphold racism as the ultimate form of prejudice and bias? How is one life that was taken, supposedly by racial bias, worthy of great outcry, violent demonstrations, and looting?
          A. Let’s be clear, concise and get rid of the blatant obfuscation hidden within that question dear sir. You and I both know that the looting is not being caused by those who are genuinely protesting this incident in fact good sir are you aware that those who protested during the day on several occasions rose to the defense of some of the stores in the area to prevent the looting. If we are to have an honest conversation sir, you must realize that the looting and the protests are not linked, surely you recognize that those who protest during the day do so peacefully as do those who join in after working hours. You and so many others wish to link them with those who want to engage in behavior that is counterproductive, in order for you to do that, you would have to engage in various forms of obfuscation that I will not allow you to do here sir, if we are do have a conversation, lets at least try to be honest about it shall we?
          (4) What makes you think that people who were killed in Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria did not suffer and even worse than your favorite son? What makes his death so special before the eyes of God? Shouldn’t you and Pastor Cho be heart-broken over ALL deaths that ended prematurely because of hate? You answer me that question.
          A. As I have explained before you wish to change the tone of the conversation. This is not a conversation about Israel, or Gaza, it is not about Ukraine Iraq or Syria, we do not live there, we are engaged in a conversation regarding the goings on in Ferguson, MO. Yes we mourn what happens there, war is never pretty, never neat, never desireable. But neither is the systematic, institutionalized racism that happens in this country. Why sir are you not offended that those whom you call fellow citizens, (and yes I am taking the leap in believing that you consider them to be so), are thought about in differing manners than yourself? Why are you not outraged that they are often times taken advantage of, are feared for no logical reason, that they get passed over for jobs they are qualified for? Please sir answer that if you are able? You appear to have a great world view but apparently cannot see those for whom you could advocate right here in this country, like those who adopt from far off countries, when there are children right here in this one who are in need of a decent home.

          (5) Why is black slavery so special? Human history is full of examples of human enslavement. This is not unique no matter how hard you want to believe it. What is at the root seems to go far beyond what you seem to have in mind.
          A.
          Once again we are dealing with the goings on in this country, a system of policies that have striven to deny a group of people equal treatment, and equal opportunities
          Since you picked on my “incorrect parallel,” don’t you think at least this virus is nobler than racism, since it has no regard for life, in all of its colors, age, and sex?
          A.So now you wish to engage In anthropomorphism, a virus cannot be noble, it does what it does try again please.
          Unshackle yourself from your own racism my dear sir. Do you think Dr. Martin Luther King had it in mind for people like you to cling on to skin color when we mourn the deaths of innocents around the world including the US? Including Ferguson, Missouri?
          A.
          Sir I am not a racist, what I am is well informed, and well read. I would advise you to wake up my friend and join us in reality. Martin would well regard what happened in Ferguson as an outward demonstration of the honest realization that we have not come nearly as far as we would like to think.

          When you troll around the Web typing angry retorts at everyone who spread hatred and when you finally break down and beat your chest at every death of a child whose life was taken prematurely, you would have finally arrived at the mountain top from whose peak MLK shamed every human being on earth to do better.
          You sir, are not.
          A.What I am my dear friend is awake, What I have sir are my eyes open, Jack Kennedy on 11 June 1963 states “Those who do nothing are inviting shame, as well as violence”…We cannot continue sir to close our eyes to the underlying truth, racism yet lives in this country.

          • Jay Wiley says:

            Let’s focus on key points of disagreement or perhaps even agreement.

            (1) Attempts at changing the framework of this conversation.

            You are absolutely correct that I am trying to change the framework of dialogue to reach beyond the bounds of racism because that conversation will never end. Isn’t this post/reply ample example of how these conversations rarely go beyond personal insults, protestation of how well informed one party is and how underinformed/misinformed the other part is, and ending with a dare to retort even further. You and I are old enough to have had too many of these futile conversations.

            If I do not try to base my opinion, or as you have accused, failure to act angrily a MB’s untimely death, on an idea that has clear limits. Ergo, racism. Do you believe if those numbers that Eugene Cho recited in his blog were turned around, those who would be in the majority, the black folks, would act more nobly than perhaps has the whites under the current circumstances? I doubt it. It’s circular, isn’t it? You see the people out on the streets demonstrating peacefully and violently? How do you judge their ability to act rationally and with cold-hearted objectivity. Gets you thinking too doesn’t it?

            And let’s do away with tit-for-tat exhibition of one’s intelligence. There is no need for you to accuse me of being misinformed or biased.

            (2) You, a racist? Never went there.

            Your worldview is based on American race experience. You mention multiple times in your reply that you want to focus on America.

            That is precisely the problem. If you stay in that prison where you see things as you do, you will never be able to see beyond race. Yes, I have lived in many other countries besides the US. And, no not for a week at a time. I have LIVED in other countries.

            Once you remove yourself physically or intellectually from the US boundary, you get to see and experience other forms of prejudice and bias which also lead to results that you currently see in MO.

            That’s when you realize that racism is a subset if hatred. The devil’s work, if you would.

            Perhaps your understanding of MLK and mine are different. He would be heart-broken over the actions of both sides. Al Sharpton is no MLK.

            By calling you out for not having reached the mountaintop, I am bringing your attention to my view that you have not reached the level of MLK’s proposition where we can see beyond color.

            Hatred lives everywhere.

            (3) Focus of the conversation that we are having… Is it race?

            You accuse of obfuscation. When I am trying to lift up this going back and forths to reach beyond racism. You have replied to everyone who have written about their disagreement with Pastor Cho’s blog. And you will continue to in order to “speak up” and not “invite violence” as RFK once said, according to you.

            My dear sir, it is futile. Perhaps I am repeating myself but an image that I have of you and others like you are those who are locked in a prison cell with the key to the locked door in their hands. I am not going to assume anything about your racial identity. But, this metaphor of prison is not being used as an insult. Rather, I am using it as a metaphor to have you come out of that prison of “unique” American history, and see hatred for its universality that crosses all races, nationalities, ethnicities, gender, and age et al.

            If you do not, then, you will be stuck there. Towards the end of Malcom X’s life, he saw this too and chose to break free, truly free.

            If I am being smug and presumptious, please forgive me. I am not. How many tumultuous riots have you seen and or read about? Too many. And, yes, racism is alive and well. But, then, it is alive and well because hatred exists everywhere. It is this human condition that must be fought against.

            Anger…… it burns you too.

            • John Anthony says:

              Hey Jay here ya go! Once again point for point

              Let’s focus on key points of disagreement or perhaps even agreement.

              (1) Attempts at changing the framework of this conversation.

              You are absolutely correct that I am trying to change the framework of dialogue to reach beyond the bounds of racism because that conversation will never end. Isn’t this post/reply ample example of how these conversations rarely go beyond personal insults, protestation of how well informed one party is and how underinformed/misinformed the other part is, and ending with a dare to retort even further. You and I are old enough to have had too many of these futile conversations.
              A. Agreed however one hasd to concede that race is an issue that must be addressed if the difficult conversation is not had, healing cannot begin. When trust is broken one does not remain silent, one works with the person offended to regain trust and hopefully build a stronger relationship. If we all are to be respected as Americans, we all must have to deal with the painful reality that racism exists in this country, and policies will have to change that serve one group at the detriment of others.

              If I do not try to base my opinion, or as you have accused, failure to act angrily a MB’s untimely death, on an idea that has clear limits. Ergo, racism. Do you believe if those numbers that Eugene Cho recited in his blog were turned around, those who would be in the majority, the black folks, would act more nobly than perhaps has the whites under the current circumstances? I doubt it. It’s circular, isn’t it? You see the people out on the streets demonstrating peacefully and violently? How do you judge their ability to act rationally and with cold-hearted objectivity. Gets you thinking too doesn’t it?
              A. I know several facts that are not being addressed in your answer.
              1. There is a cycle of mistrust between the police in Ferguson, and the predominantly black population
              2. There is measurable proof as to why that mistrust exists
              3. Black folks in Ferguson sadly do not vote in a consistent manner
              4. When people are held in a state of consistant disrespect, the one thing that is likely to happen is violence (ergo American Revolution, French Revolution), it was Aristotle who wisely stated “Poverty is the parent of crime and revolution”. Are we not seeing a little of both in Ferguson?

              And let’s do away with tit-for-tat exhibition of one’s intelligence. There is no need for you to accuse me of being misinformed or biased.
              A. Agreed we are obviously both intelligent

              (2) You, a racist? Never went there.
              A. Actually you implied it

              Your worldview is based on American race experience. You mention multiple times in your reply that you want to focus on America.
              A. Absolutely I want to focus on America, this is where this issue is occurring, this is where Ferguson is, the point of the conversation is that something wrong is happening in Ferguson, MO USA. To do otherwise would not be, and by default could not be an informed conversation of the goings on in Ferguson.

              That is precisely the problem. If you stay in that prison where you see things as you do, you will never be able to see beyond race. Yes, I have lived in many other countries besides the US. And, no not for a week at a time. I have LIVED in other countries.

              Once you remove yourself physically or intellectually from the US boundary, you get to see and experience other forms of prejudice and bias which also lead to results that you currently see in MO.

              That’s when you realize that racism is a subset if hatred. The devil’s work, if you would.
              A. IF this conversation is to be fruitful one cannot take the standards of other countries and apply them here, the comparison is not apt. Its akin to taking a historical figure and attempting to apply modern current mores to them. It wont work. For example when one looks at Lincoln, he had racist viewpoints, he did not think that blacks and whites could ever get along, and wanted to ship the former slaves out of the country. Today we look at that and are outraged. Based however on the mores and thought processes of the day he was looked upon as a radical during his day.

              Perhaps your understanding of MLK and mine are different. He would be heart-broken over the actions of both sides. Al Sharpton is no MLK.
              A. You are correct Sharpton is no MLK and its disingenuous to expect him to be so. Al Sharpton is Al Sharpton, he cannot be nor should he try to be MLK. There is only one of him, and he has been gone for 40+ years. Al Sharpton is here and now, regardless of how you feel about him or Jesse, they both are leaders in the eyes of some and both still have some relevancy. I do not like some of their personal attributes however their ability to lead is not impacted.

              By calling you out for not having reached the mountaintop, I am bringing your attention to my view that you have not reached the level of MLK’s proposition where we can see beyond color.
              A. Sir you miss the point of MLKs speeches, he did not say we should be colorblind, what he did say is that snap judgments about character should not be based on color huge, markedly huge difference. As a black man I see it all the time. I can be in my best Brooks Bros suit and walking down the street, and have been both followed in a store and had women clutch their bags tighter, even when I smile in bestowing the greetings of the day. That is making a character judgment based on character, that is what broke his heart. An example of this is when Capt Johnson as giving the hand sign for his fraternity on camera, CNN and others in the blogosphere went nuts thinking he was in a gang when if these people were truly interested in the truth they could have done a search in google for Greek fraternities and easily located the hand gestures each of the fraternities have one. That too is an example of things that would break his heart and show that we are far from where we should be, but because we lack the courage to have this painful conversation, and do it in an honest forum where policy changes can and will be made to actually make a difference, because it take courage to do things because they are right in the face of what may not be politic.

              Hatred lives everywhere.

              (3) Focus of the conversation that we are having… Is it race?

              You accuse of obfuscation. When I am trying to lift up this going back and forths to reach beyond racism. You have replied to everyone who have written about their disagreement with Pastor Cho’s blog. And you will continue to in order to “speak up” and not “invite violence” as RFK once said, according to you.
              A. Actually it was Jack, not Bobby

              My dear sir, it is futile. Perhaps I am repeating myself but an image that I have of you and others like you are those who are locked in a prison cell with the key to the locked door in their hands. I am not going to assume anything about your racial identity. But, this metaphor of prison is not being used as an insult. Rather, I am using it as a metaphor to have you come out of that prison of “unique” American history, and see hatred for its universality that crosses all races, nationalities, ethnicities, gender, and age et al.

              If you do not, then, you will be stuck there. Towards the end of Malcom X’s life, he saw this too and chose to break free, truly free.

              If I am being smug and presumptious, please forgive me. I am not. How many tumultuous riots have you seen and or read about? Too many. And, yes, racism is alive and well. But, then, it is alive and well because hatred exists everywhere. It is this human condition that must be fought against.

              Anger…… it burns you too.

              A. It burns us all to be true, but we are either going to have to muster the courage to have the conversation that needs to be had or not be shocked and otherwise outraged when things that happen in Ferguson, occur. Hatred gives way to viewing others based on the things that do not look like the predominant class, however if that class wishes to call itself good, and benevolent, it must do things that change the way that policy is both made and executed or risk going the way of the Romans.

              • Jay Wiley says:

                I think it is clear that you and I have very different views.

                (1) You make a legitimate point about imposing standards brought from other countries on the US. However correct you may be, your stance is legitimate but also limiting — which was my point. There is a universal truth about human nature (i.e. hatred, revenge, search for justice) that should be applicable anywhere, but you disagree. We cannot go on, in that case.

                (2) My insinuation that you are a racist. Again, I cannot tell you otherwise if you believe otherwise. Perhaps I will concede this much from your disclosure about how little your professional mien and articulate speech (I am assuming) still does not alleviate the burden of bias upon you. Shame on them. As for my “insinuation,” you do use race rather comfortably to describe your experiences and your worldly views. I shall concede that much.

                (3) We also do not see eye-to-eye on what MLK’s ultimate vision from the mountaintop would have been. I say it is a vision that DISREGRADS race, perhaps along the lines of thought that fall behind Clarence Thomas and not Sonya Sotomayor. You disagree. See the difference but do not deduce superiority or inferiority, therein. This is an ideal which has yet to come to the fore no matter how many MLKs and Nelson Mandelas and Mahatma Ghandis appear and walk on earth.

                (4) As for your numerical listing of facts and descriptive narrative on Ferguson…. All individual instances of injustice has its unique historical and current day aspects and nuances. If I can bring in your reference to the evolving vision of justice and harmony between peoples going back to Abe Lincoln and how Abe’s vision would no longer be applicable today…. Then, logically speaking, your current day vision would also prove itself to be frail and perhaps no longer applicable if enough time passes. Correct? Validity of our views seem shaky in that case.

                Dear sir, I am sure all that I have written is not new to you. Nor is what you have written in response new to me. The difficult part, to me, is not about the choice of whether we should have more of these difficult conversations.

                Rather, the question to me, is how do we get beyond agreeing to remain disagreed? Neither side has moved. Then, your paradigm of analysis and my paradigm of analysis has to shift into a third paradigm where you and I, can actually engage. So far, we have only defined how you and I differ. Am I wrong?

                This is why I refuse to engage you on the minute points of historical and present misunderstandings and miscarriage of justice as is apparent to you in Ferguson. To me, the situation is not at all unique.

                You refuse to go there but we can find similar stories with equally as gut-wrenching and injurious past transgressions in other parts of the world. That is why I attempted to turn around the tone of the discussions and posts in answer to Pastor Cho’s original post.

                I believe, he does NOT and absolutely FAILS in pushing this discussion into that THIRD PARADIGM which goes beyond RACE.

                This is not a game to have the last word. I think I will end my posts with this one. I thank you dearly for engaging me. And I truly hope that a day will come when you will be judged by ALL for the contents of your character as MLK spoke.

  9. dstich says:

    For an article written by a Christian, there is a tremendous amount of slant here. We risk credibility when we obviously take a side. Many “unarmed” people commit murder and it is looking more likely than not that this is what MB was attempting when he feloniously attacked a police officer by shoving him back into his car, hitting him in the face, and attempting to take his gun. While it is always tragic when someone dies violently, I for one am glad that we are talking about the tragic death of MB and not the tragic death of a police officer-we had one murdered in MN in the last week. I am more incensed that we as a nation would immediately fall for the false narrative that a police officer would execute an innocent teen for walking down the street-I have been a direct witness to this kind of attack against the action of officers where the death of a suspect was involved on 3 different occasions in the last 20 years. In each of them, I knew what really happened and had to see good, conscientious officers attacked by the media, the family of the suspect (who had no knowledge of what happened), and their attorneys who made wild accusations against the officers. Why? Because millions of dollars were at stake.

    I am sure that Ferguson, MO is not a place where it is pleasant for black Americans to live for a variety of reasons-socioeconomic, political, overbearing law enforcement, etc. In the rundown of sins that the police have made in the article, was no mention of the level of crime in the community they patrol and that is very relevant…especially with the lawlessness of the last few nights.

  10. legaldesign says:

    I wholeheartedly disagree with your point #2. You conclude that an 18 year old unalarmed black man is dead “Because of the sin of racism and the abhorrent history of slavery in this country, we still fight the myth of the suspicious, scary black man.” Really? This is an IRRESPONSIBLE STATEMENT. This type of conclusion is no more different than what Al Sharpton does at ad nauseum (or Hannity egging on Bundy) who exploits this type of situation at every turn along with CNN and other media outlets jostling for more violent and race hustling news – it’s the new porn!

    Yes, there was and still is some form of systematic racism in this country. Still, America has made incredible strides. Did we forget that we have a Black President and Black Attorney General at the helm? Let’s not overplay the race card. With all due respect, if you as a pastor say what you wrote in #2 then you are are doing disservice to all the prayers you advocate we pray.

    As a lawyer (and theologian), when I see race baiters and overeager media egg on the already vulnerable people of Furguson, in this case, my stomach turns. In the meanwhile, the looters and the would be criminals are made to feel “justified” in their mental state because, well, the police are not to be trusted. Let’s not bash the police in one broad stroke. There are many good cops and Christian cops in this country who serve their community well. At the same time, I am mindful that the police force, in general, has also become too powerful and militarized. There needs to be a pull back and this tragic incident is a good platform to discuss this serious issue.

    Further, as community leaders we must be careful not to conflate the issue at hand with the larger issue. None of us know the state of mind of Michael Brown (who just robbed a store minutes before) when he was confronted by the officer. None of us know what happened at the moment when both were in the officer’s car. None us of KNOW!!! Albeit imperfect, America still has the best criminal justice system with the most important tenet that applies to all citizens: PRESUMPTION of INNOCENCE. So, Pastor Cho while I agree with that churches must address this event, I respectfully do not agree with the most of the substance here.

    I wholeheartedly agree that we must pray for all who are involved, especially the parents of Michael Brown who has lost their precious son.

    Finally, as a church we must strive to be above the political fray and not lean left or right. Further, as a church we must strive to be more diverse and multi-cultural. Church has failed our society. Church must not propagate political agendas, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Evil is colorless and odorless.

  11. Rachel says:

    This is the problem with focusing too much on one issue, you get off center quickly. Are we supposed to ignore the other injustices in the world because of this?

    Eugene, I respect you, but you have significantly missed the mark here. You said the facts aren’t in, yet you make many points as if they are facts. You don’t know he was unarmed or any other facts.

    If you are so easily to dismiss the account of the cop because it is skewed than you must also reject those of the black eye witnesses because they are also skewed.

    Don’t be so quick to believe everything you see on CNN.

  12. 8in8 says:

    Thank you
    Blog fantastic
    ……………………………….
    http://www.8ii.in
    ………………………………..

  13. […] got to bring in justice where there’s been so much injustice.”  First, we have to stop ignoring it.  Whether or not you’re a person of faith, you’re a person that matters to someone, […]

  14. Doug says:

    For the folks who are commenting about race not an issue or he was a thief, or the founding fathers were Christians (that long comment was a tad lost on me), how about you simply acknowledge that a mom has lost a son; how about you acknowledge that people are divided and distrusting, how about you simply acknowledge that people are afraid, how about simply acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers, but that there is a huge brokenness that breaks the heart of God.

  15. Sean says:

    Churches should teach the word of god not the color of skin. God will decide who is right and who is wrong. That’s not the churches place to interject judgment, especially when they may not have all the facts.

  16. Jewell says:

    To ignore color, gender, or any defining characteristic is to ignore the word of God, to ignore that the justice system is disproportionately unfair to Black people both historically and presently, is to ignore what we are called to Micah 6:8. We (the body of Christ) are called to more. If we can grieve for the persecution of Christian in Iraq, but do nothing at home is not a reflection of what Christ designed the body of Christ to be.

  17. Mike Y. says:

    Hmm… While everyone voiced their opinion, I prayed. Mainly, I prayed for all of you. So quick to cast a stone when we’re all just as broken and sinful. Stop watching the news and lead by example. It’s easy to condemn someone, it’s harder to love and pray for them, regardless of color, regardless of judgment.

  18. […] Eugene Cho, Five Ways Christians and Churches Must Engage Michael Brown’s Death: […]

  19. Miguel Angel Moscatelli Gonzalez says:

    Mi únicas armas son: la oración, la misericordia, la Biblia, la fe y la comprensión, porque sin compasión y sin amor nada es posible… Bendiciones para todos, amén!!!

  20. Eugene says:

    Is there a source for the statistics that you mention? Just curious. Thanks!

  21. Rhonda says:

    I am the mother of an African American son. Today I went to my church, one with a white lead pastor but a majority African American congregation. I so needed to hear my fears and tears of the past week addressed in the context of God’s love and thirst for justice for the oppressed. Instead there was complete silence about the matter. Your post is balm to my weary soul. Thank you! BTW I am a white woman.

  22. […] Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University “Please Don’t Ignore It: Five Ways that Christians and the Church Must Engage Michael Br…, Eugene Cho, Lead Pastor at Quest Church “A Letter from a Black Seminarian,” James […]

  23. kahlers12 says:

    Reblogged this on thewaythetruthandthelife and commented:
    Great points, YES!

  24. Gene McCoy says:

    I wonder if this would be a national story if it had been a white man who was shot. I also wonder why, in a town populated by a decided black majority, there aren’t more blacks in public service. Maybe blacks are not offering their service? Not voting? And regardless the colors of the characters and the circumstances of the event, can the destruction and theft of property be justified? Finally, I wonder if we find in Scripture an example of Jesus or the apostles addressing specific social, political or racially charged contemporary event.

  25. […] Please Don’t Ignore It // 5 Ways Believers can (and must) engage Michael Brown’s death – Eugene Cho […]

  26. […] few days ago, my friend (and big brother pastor) Eugene Cho posted on his blog, urging churches and Christians not to ignore Michael Brown’s death. It’s worth reading […]

  27. John Anthony says:

    Those of you who seemingly think that race is not a factor, might I suggest you actually do some homework and log in to the Atty General of MOs website and look at the data there.
    And then there is the broader racial context. Mother Jones reported last week that research shows African-Americans are disproportionately affected in incidents of police violence. The ACLU has also reported that people of color are disproportionately involved in militarized police actions like the kind taken against Ferguson protests since the shooting.

    • theolawspeak says:

      Race and racism are always factors in the pluralist society that has become America. Anytime, an incident such as this occurs in America race and racism, collectively, is the undertone that hums constantly. However, that is the macro issue of our time that will not go away anytime soon. What’s troubling is that this macro issue takes the front seat and the micro issue (finding the truth of what really took place) is squashed altogether and the irony is that it no longer is about Michael Brown and his death, but that Michael Brown’s death has become another “racial event” to be exploited at every turn to further the greater narrative of the left . Yes, we need to address the greater narrative (left and right), but not at the expense of every Treyvon or Michael’s death.

      I leave you with a blog written by Matt Walsh titled that speaks to this:

      “You Don’t Know What Happened to Michael Brown So Stop Pretending That You Do”

      http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/08/18/dont-know-happened-michael-brown-stop-pretending/

      “I don’t know what happened to Michael Brown.
      Maybe something conclusive — solid, physical evidence, pointing in one direction or another — will come out within 15 minutes of this post’s publication. Maybe it will take another week. Maybe it will be a month. Maybe we’ll never know for sure.
      I don’t know when we’ll know, or if we’ll know, or what we’ll know when we know if we ever know.
      I don’t know.
      But I do know this: it doesn’t much matter anymore.
      Sure, it matters in the actual sense. It matters to God. It matters to honest people. It matters to mature adults who just want the truth, and who don’t show up at crime scenes with pom-poms and popcorn, rooting for one side or another to “win.” It matters to the rational, the reasonable, the thoughtful.
      But that is a dwindling breed. As it rapidly fades into the ether, we are left with a society populated by frauds who simply don’t care about the truth at all. It’s almost pathological at this point. They don’t hate the truth, necessarily, they just don’t see it as a particularly compelling issue. They cast their die before the facts are known, and stick by their wagers in spite of whatever information comes to light. They play their assigned role in the Great Narrative, and they never, ever, under any circumstance, stray from the script. All of this, of course, perpetuated by a media that establishes its storyline and then “reports” only on events consistent with the plot. Sometimes they make complicated situations simple, and sometimes they make simple situations complicated. Whatever the case, they make it, and then eventually they drop it and move on to the next ratings stunt.
      So that’s why, to many people, it doesn’t matter what actually happened to Michael Brown. This isn’t about Michael Brown anymore. It never was, really. It’s about a narrative — a story — and Michael Brown is useful so long as he serves it.
      Does anyone think the protestors will go home and apologize if the officer is vindicated by the evidence? Will MSNBC retract every reckless conjecture and misleading statement? Will Al Sharpton shout “my bad,” and head home, never again to descend like a despicable vulture whenever news cameras and racial tensions meet? Will the looters return their stolen merchandise? Will the Twitter prognosticators tweet out their mea culpas? Will social media be flooded with humbled and humiliated concessions?
      If Christ Himself spoke from the heavens and contradicted the established mainstream narrative, is there any way that any of these things would happen as a result?
      No, definitely not. They’d just accuse Jesus of getting His facts from Fox News.
      But maybe those who’ve rushed to judgment will finally, for once, get to puff up their chests and tell us that they told us so. Maybe they’ll be proven right. Maybe. I don’t know.
      I’m willing to say I don’t know, even if it robs me of the opportunity to brag that “I was right from the beginning.”
      The problem is that there’s little risk in being rash and reckless. These days, nobody remembers anything that happened before yesterday, nor dwells on anything once it stops trending on Twitter. Therefore, you can be wrong a hundred times a day, you can prophesy and proclaim and accuse, you can do it all without a modicum of reason or integrity, and you will never be held accountable for it. Your credibility is only ever damaged when you stray from the Established Truth, but not when you stray from the Actual Truth.
      So this probably won’t do any good, but I’d like to try to break through this wall of false certainty. It’s not that I want to convince you to take a different side; I just want to convince you that you shouldn’t be on anyone’s side right now. I can only prove that nothing’s been proven. I can only show that not enough has been shown. Do what you will with the information — or rather the lack of information — but you must at least consider this:
      – Michael Brown was shot six times, twice in the head. Much is being made of the fact that the officer hit him with six bullets, but there is nothing that can be immediately gleaned from this. Despite what you’ve been told, six shots are not automatically “excessive.” It’s particularly relevant in this case to note that Brown was shot in the arm several times, and that the first five wounds were survivable. This could mean that the cop riddled an innocent man with bullets, or it could mean that the cop was shooting at an aggressive, charging suspect, and he had to keep shooting until the suspect went down.
      Police are trained to shoot “center mass,” which means they shoot until the threat is neutralized. Sometimes this takes two shots, sometimes six, sometimes ten, sometimes more. Sometimes they go overboard, but nobody with firearm experience would tell you that there’s any clear bullet limit; a number that, when reached, immediately renders each subsequent bullet “excessive.”
      Really, what’s the thought process here? If (notice, “IF”) Brown was on the attack, are we now saying that the cop should have fired a predetermined “reasonable” quantity of bullets, and then, if the suspect was still coming after him, he should have holstered his gun and ran for the hills, all in the name of meeting the media’s bullet quota?
      This isn’t Hollywood. You can’t take everyone down with one shot.
      The number of bullets only matters if certain circumstances are in play; specifically, the circumstance where Brown was surrendering. But if Brown was surrendering then it doesn’t matter if he was shot once or a dozen times, the officer would be guilty of murder. Either way, harping on the number of bullets inflames emotions and does nothing to enlighten or clarify.
      – Michael Brown was unarmed. This is relevant, but it doesn’t conclusively tell us anything. The way people are carrying on, you’d think there’s never a time when an unarmed man could pose a lethal threat to an armed man. Leftwing blogs have spent all week telling us that unarmed people are shot by police officers on a relatively frequent basis. They’re right, but they’re wrong when they try to paint this dynamic in a cartoonish, simplistic, “cops are always bad and racist, and suspects are always good and innocent” light. There are many reasons why a law enforcement officer might have cause to shoot an unarmed man — the first being the rather obvious fact that cops don’t always know that the unarmed man is an unarmed man.
      Are we really now suggesting that police officers should wait until they’re shot at to shoot back? What sort of maniac would ever become a cop if he had to adhere to those regulations? Being a police officer can be dangerous work; I, for one, don’t think it ought to be suicidal.
      Another convincing reason to shoot an unarmed man might be when the man in question is about the size of a professional offensive lineman. Michael Brown was 6’4″ and close to 300 pounds, which makes him only a bit smaller than the average guard or tackle at this year’s NFL scouting combine.
      Have you ever been physically assaulted by a 300 pound man? I haven’t, but I’m willing to believe that the experience could be fatal.
      Now, if Brown was shot with his hands up, or if Brown was shot while fleeing, then his size is of no consequence. But it’s hard to believe that so many people truly think his size was of no consequence even if he was attempting to attack the officer.
      There’s another point that must be raised here: nobody has any right to physically assault another human being, including a cop. Moreover, nobody, including a cop, has any responsibility to get pummeled or throttled by an assailant. If you try to harm an armed man or woman, you might get shot. This is not cruelty. This is self-preservation, and it is just. Again, we don’t know that Brown showed any hostility at all. If he didn’t, then Officer Wilson should be charged and tried. But I’m disturbed by the amount of people who seem to believe that, even if Brown did attack, he didn’t “deserve” to get shot.
      It’s not about what the assailants deserve. It’s about what the assailed deserve. And they deserve to protect themselves. IF Brown had already assaulted the officer and tried to steal his gun, and IF the officer pointed his gun at Brown and yelled at him to freeze, and IF Brown ignored that command and rushed towards the officer, as an alleged friend of Officer Wilson claims, then of course the officer would be justified in using lethal force. What else would he do? Quickly put his gun away, grab a taser, and wait for the charging, gigantic individual to be close enough to hopefully subdue? That’s just not how it works, it’s not what any sane law enforcement officer would do, and it isn’t what you would do, either.
      – There are eye witnesses. This is important, but it’s not as clear cut as some would like it to be.
      Our primary witness is Dorian Johnson, Brown’s friend, and, as we later discovered, suspected accomplice in the robbery that occurred minutes earlier (more on that later). Even before looking at the autopsy report, we can already use rational thought to discern a few things about Johnson’s account: 1) Apart from the officer and Brown himself, Johnson had the best view of the whole ordeal. This makes his account very important. 2) He is going to be (understandably) biased. His friend was killed. Not only was his friend killed, but, according to some versions of the event, Johnson was also involved in the altercation with the cop. 3) He claims that Officer Wilson grabbed Brown by the throat from inside his cruiser. It’s incredible to think that Wilson would try to subdue a 6’4″ man in that fashion. It’s certainly unlike any police procedure I’ve ever heard of.
      There is at least one detail in Johnson’s account that we now know to be inaccurate. Johnson claimed that Brown was shot in the back. The private autopsy commission by Brown’s family shows that all of the bullets entered through the front of the body, and none hit him in the back. The county’s report says the same.
      Brown’s family says one of the wounds to the arm could still indicate that Brown was shot from behind. This is possible, I suppose, but it’s hardly the confirmation you’d expect after a week of being told that Brown was shot and killed while running away.
      The other narrative is that Brown was shot with his hands up. The bullet wounds don’t shed any light on that, one way or another:
      untitled (10)

      Another witness also claims that Brown was shot from behind, but her story contradicts the unseen man in a YouTube video, who can be heard recounting the event moments after it occurred. He seems to suggest that Brown turned and charged at Officer Wilson, and was shot in the process. “The next thing I know, he comes back towards them. The police had his guns drawn on him.”
      Eye witnesses are notoriously unreliable, even more so amidst a politically and ideologically fueled mass media frenzy.
      – Michael Brown allegedly committed a “strong arm robbery” moments prior to his fatal encounter with police. Despite the near-unanimous consent of pundits and social media “experts,” this fact does matter.
      You’ve probably heard people insist that “just because Brown stole some cigars doesn’t mean he should have been shot.” This is a classic example of a straw man argument. Nobody is saying that the revelation of Brown’s cigar-heist somehow makes this shooting justified. That is not the point. That’s not the argument.
      The point is that Brown didn’t just “shoplift,” like many dishonest folks have claimed. He walked into a convenience store, brazenly grabbed merchandise from the counter, and then, when confronted, grabbed an old man by the shirt collar and pushed him to the side:
      untitled (11)

      This isn’t some teenager sneaking a pack of gum into the pockets of his cargo shorts. This is a blatant act of completely unnecessary and unwarranted hostility. Grabbing a little old guy by the neck and shoving him aside? How can any honest person pretend that such an act doesn’t indicate a bit of a bully streak (to say the least)?
      If Brown was willing to walk into a store and push an old man around for no reason it lends credibility to the notion that, perhaps, he might have picked a fight with a cop.
      It doesn’t prove anything, but it does add another dimension to the situation. A dimension that no thinking person would ignore. I’d say his very recent history of vicious behavior is much more relevant than even the fact that Brown had marijuana in his system at the time of the incident.
      I ask you this: what if Officer Wilson had pushed around a black teen earlier in the day? Actually, forget earlier in the day, what if video surfaced of him picking on a black kid a year or more before? Do you think all of these people crying “character assassination” would still be singing the same tune?
      Of course not. Nor should they.
      You don’t generally saunter into the one stop down the street, smack the clerk around just for the hell of it, and then carry on with your day being an otherwise gentle and affable fellow.
      But what do I know?
      Not much.
      I don’t know. You don’t know.
      Maybe the officer is a cold blooded killer. Maybe he gunned down a teenager in the middle of the street, in broad daylight, while the innocent kid had his hands up and shouted “don’t shoot.” Maybe this cop decided to throw his entire life away because he was angry, or racist, or insane. That seems implausible, but then it seems implausible that anyone would come charging at a police officer while the officer is pointing a gun right at him. Both extreme ends of this scenario just sound unlikely, but not impossible.
      So maybe the truth is in between. Maybe Brown attacked the cop and went for his gun, but then retreated, and maybe the cop panicked and started firing, and maybe Brown got angry and turned around and charged at him, and maybe he was shot and disabled, but the cop kept shooting. Or maybe the officer instigated the entire altercation. Or maybe the officer just asked him to get out of the street and Brown decided to be a tough guy. Or maybe none of these hypotheticals are true.
      Maybe the Officer is a murderer, or maybe he’s a good man whose life is now ruined through no fault of his own. Or maybe he’s a good man but an incompetent police office who lost control and overreacted. Maybe Brown was a good man who was viciously gunned down in his prime. Or maybe he was a hostile bully who thought he could assault a cop and walk away unscathed. Or maybe he was a good man who sometimes did stupid things, and this whole situation just got out of control.
      Maybe, I don’t know.
      Are you confused yet?
      I hope so, because that’s the point.
      You don’t know, and even what you think you know you don’t really know.
      And one day, when we do know, you can come back here and tell me that you always knew, and that I should have known.
      I’m sure a lot of people will do just that.
      But, then again, I don’t know.”

  28. Mike says:

    Expected more than empty emotionalism and cliched catchphrases here. Everyone talks about “justice” and “kingdom” but no one can agree on what it looks like or how we get there. How about we go back to the words of Christ and preach the gospel to all peoples, and not get sidetracked by the social outrage du jour?

  29. […] Please Don’t Ignore it: Five Ways that Christians and Churches Must Engage Michael Brown’s Death […]

  30. Fred says:

    It was a disappointment to read this, especially the part about remaining silent. Given the conflicting accounts of the events of that day, the only logical inference to be drawn from silence is that those who are silent are waiting. Waiting for the justice system to grind away to its necessarily slow result. A swift reaction borders too closely on revenge. Waiting for all the facts to be introduced into evidence, which has yet to be done, is the only path to human justice. This would be a good time for you to counsel others to wait, silently, until all the facts are introduced into evidence. Anything more than that unwisely stokes the fires of vengeance and hatred.

    • John Anthony says:

      Hi Fred, sadly no it will not be viewed as waiting, it will be viewed the same way that has been viewed throughout history. The church not having the stomach or the moral fortitude to call a spade a spade. How many times when it has come to the issue of race in this country has the church “remained silent” The author did not touch on this but I will. Most mainstream churches saw nothing wrong with the institution of slavery during the early history of this nation. In fact many would misuse scripture to justify it, would use perverted science that amounted to foolish old wives tales about how the black man was destined to be subserviant to the white man. It was the Quakers and other sub set denominations that forced the issue, not mainstream what we would consider to day as evangelical. During the civil rights movement there were few evangelicals who rose to the occasion and showed courage in confronting Jim Crow laws. They were willing to take money in the offering plate but look the other way when the laws were set against black people. Even Billy Graham did not change until the Supreme Court decided that Jim Crow was illegal, consider that for a moment, Christian common sense was not enough it was only until the laws were changed that he began to preach to integrated audiences….Sorry Fred this is not a time for the church to remain slient in issues like this, she has been quiet long enough. Perhaps we all can learn a lesson from Job 29. The early church did not shrink away from controversial issues, it took them up knowing that the One we say we serve often took up the cause of those who were marginalized, it appears some of his followers have not the stomach for it, but rather be more politic than right.

  31. […] other perspectives.  Christena Cleveland summarizes some of this weeks best articles on Ferguson Pastor Eugene Cho encourages churches to not ignore Ferguson Austin Channing’s article entitled “Black Bodies White Souls” Christian Civil Rights […]

  32. Isha KI says:

    Thank you so much for this. And for anyone left resisting….

    I’m sorry. But this is a racial problem AND an excessive force by police problem:

    2009: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/17/nation/na-race-shootings17
    2012: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58089112-78/gill-cowley-police-willard.html.csp
    2014: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58304981-78/police-taylor-lake-salt.html.csp

    This is an opportunity to bring about a huge change in our country…. Why are you hesitating? If you pray, pray harder, if you meditate, meditate deeper. This is happening now. Let’s get it together, together!

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If you’re truly Christian, Christ was found guilty and crucified as a criminal… Yes? Yet we judge and spit on victims because the authorities who are trying to lie and get away with murder again, have labeled them a criminal after death?

    This is just shameful, this is wrong

    Read the article in the link for 2014 killing; they brought up his record, even though he was doing nothing wrong! Why would they do that?! In the 2012 article, it states that she “allegedly” put a substance in her mouth, yet nothing in any autopsy report I could (barely) find stated this as accurate. She was shot twice – once in the face and once in the head (6 shots were fired!)

    The above two are of White victims by the way. 21 and 20 at the times of their death. Mad enough yet? Concerned enough yet? Are you ready yet!!? They’re protesting right now in Utah Gene McCoy! Go!! March!! Win!

    (Or sit here, staring at the screen, commenting angrily about how this isn’t a race issue, or a human rights issue, or a gun issue; and let the devil keep winning while he dances his dance to the sound of your condolences with your silence)

  33. […] 6. We already have leaders to show us the way forward. Although many black Christians felt the Christian response was slow in coming, a few evangelical leaders stepped to the plate early, and numerous bloggers/writers/pastors of color have written gut-wrenchingly honest reflections and pleas for understanding of their perspective and for the church to unite to stand against racial injustice everywhere: read some here, here, here, and here. They have already been asking and answering (many of them for a long time), “What can we do about these issues?” […]

  34. […] this past Sunday, following the challenge of Eugene Cho, I preached a sermon on Jeremiah 34, a passage in which God punishes his people because they go […]

  35. […] the most profound, peace-promoting & prophetic voices of Faith & Justice in our society.  His piece on the heart-breaking tragedies in Ferguson, MO are but a window into the anointed charge he strives to […]

  36. […] the most profound, peace-promoting & prophetic voices of Faith & Justice in our society.  His piece on the heart-breaking tragedies in Ferguson, MO are but a window into the anointed charge he strives to fulfill. “OVERRATED:  Are We More In […]

  37. […] the events in Ferguson only effect white and black people. Eugene Cho, another ECC pastor, writes churches cannot ignore what happened in Ferguson and must instead address it head-on, for, “The integrity of the […]

  38. PastorFirefighterChaplain says:

    This is a poor read. As a pastor, worship leader, firefighter, police chaplain, I don’t agree with Eugene. I agree to disagree. Here’s an article written by a former LEO and pastor that’s a good read. https://dayone.me/H33zOq

  39. Pam says:

    Has anyone thought that if the officer had his orbital eye socket shattered by the initial encounter w/Brown that perhaps his vision was impaired, thus the six shots as Brown continued to come at him?

  40. brettfish says:

    Thank you for this Eugene. Really appreciate you and a lot of the work and words you do and this one really resonated. Wrote my own piece on White Privilege as a white south african returning home after three years in Americaland: http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/im-not-sure-youre-against-that-thing-you-think-youre-against-white-privilege

    And am hoping that my friends and others will engage in the necessary conversations that are needed here as well.

    Keep on and find your strength in Him
    love brett fish

  41. […] Cho sat down to write a heavy-hearted blog post: “Please don’t ignore it. Five ways that Christians and churches must engage Michael […]

  42. […] Cho sat down to write a heavy-hearted blog post: “Please don’t ignore it. Five ways that Christians and churches must engage Michael […]

  43. […] Cho sat down to write a heavy-hearted blog post: “Please don’t ignore it. Five ways that Christians and churches must engage Michael Brown’s […]

  44. […] Cho sat down to write a heavy-hearted blog post: “Please don’t ignore it. Five ways that Christians and churches must engage Michael Brown’s […]

  45. […] Cho sat down to write a heavy-hearted blog post: “Please don’t ignore it. Five ways that Christians and churches must engage Michael […]

  46. […] 6. We already have leaders to show us the way forward. Although many black Christians felt the Christian response was slow in coming, a few evangelical leaders stepped to the plate early, and numerous bloggers/writers/pastors of color have written gut-wrenchingly honest reflections and pleas for understanding of their perspective and for the church to unite to stand against racial injustice everywhere: read some here, here, here, and here. They have already been asking and answering (many of them for a long time), “What can we do about these issues?” […]

  47. […] Please Don’t Ignore It: Five Ways That Christians and Churches Must Engage Michael Brown’s Death […]

  48. […] As some of you may know, I’ve been a vocal supporter of racial injustice issues (here, here, here, here, here, and here).  Now, please hear me: The power dynamics (abuse of power) can not and […]

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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

C'mon! We still got it.

#DontCallUsBeautyAndTheBeast
#HowAboutThatMatchingTie
#OldSchoolKPopStars
#19YearsAndGoingStrong Grateful for the life and leadership of Dr. John M. Perkins. There are alot of sprinters in our culture but make sure to also look for those who are persevering in the marathon of justice and reconciliation. When I think of him and others I consider mentors in my life, they're not necessarily flashy or fancy. Rather, I'm reminded that a life faithfully and honestly lived through life's trials and messiness is one's greatest sermon. The best thing a father can do for their kids...is to care well for their mother. It took me awhile to learn this and I'm still learning this. As a leader, I refuse to sacrifice my marriage and kids for the sake of ministry. How can I? Loving my family IS ministry and leadership.

I acknowledge that I'm so privileged with platform, resources, and opportunities - including the opportunity to travel and take vacations like this trip last month. Its not lost on me. I'm so grateful. I want to steward that privilege well - not just for personal or family enjoyment - but also for the sake of others and the building of the Kingdom of God. 
As I pour into others, I'm also learning how important it is to care for oneself; To care for your spouse; To care for your family; To be about the marathon. Preservation not for the sake of self-preservation but for the sake of discipleship and faithfulness.

I used to feel guilty about Sabbath-ing, vacations for my family, being in the outdoors, fishing, and self-care but it's too important  As a lifelong recovering workaholic, I don't want to burn out and I don't want this for others. Flying in and out of Seattle never gets old. One of the most mesmerizing topographies in the country. #windowseat Thank you, Chicago. Put in 10,000 steps. Still one of the best cities to walk. Want to change the world? 
Start with your own heart. Examine yourself. Grow in your faith. Begin in your homes. Love your family. Pour into young people. Engage your friends. Meet your neighbors. Seek the welfare of your city. Empathize and advocate for the hurting and marginalized. And yes, it's very possible that God may stir your heart for the nations; For people, causes, and issues in other countries but till then, start in the here and now. Be faithful. Be present.  With the people, spaces, and places right in front of you. Selah.

my tweets

  • Dear Kabul, We mourn the tragedy & violence. We confess that our mourning is often limited to the West. Forgive us. We long for peace w you. || 20 hours ago
  • We often say every person is created in the image of God & rightly so. But this must include those who suffer in "other" cities like Kabul. || 21 hours ago
  • C'mon! Angels in the Outfield. 19.5 years together and we still got it. And how about that… instagram.com/p/BIOFh7ShpvH/ || 22 hours ago
  • We're all feeling weary. So, take the time to retreat and rest. But resist the temptation to stop caring. May our hearts not become callous. || 1 day ago
  • Dear Munich/Germany: We are so sorry. We mourn the violence & tragedy in your city/nation. We pray for safety & peace. Lord, in your mercy. || 1 day ago
  • RT @EugeneCho: Dear Christians: Read the Scriptures. Be encouraged by the words of Jesus. Press on. Faith. Hope. Love. - https://t.co/YCGLH… || 2 days ago

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