Here in the United States it's been great to see so many people protesting the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck for about nine minutes while he was saying, "I can't breathe."
Of course, this is just the latest person of color who has been killed by police for no good reason. Black Lives Matter protests have been going on years, but I'm hopeful our country finally is sending a clear message to police that the unjust killings have to stop.
Many people of faith have been taking part in the protests, so I readily admit that religious groups can play a strong role in social justice movements.
But then there's Donald Trump, who has an unerring ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
A New York Times story explains how Trump screwed up an opportunity today to bring our country together. Here's excerpts from "Trump Says Jobs Report Made It a 'Great Day' for George Floyd, Stepping on Message."
WASHINGTON — President Trump drew immediate criticism from Democrats on Friday for declaring that new unemployment numbers made it “a great day” for George Floyd, the black man whose death in the custody of white police officers has touched off protests and rioting across the country.
“Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country,” Mr. Trump said. “This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”
After a week of unrest in the capital, Mr. Trump had gone to the Rose Garden to declare victory over a coronavirus pandemic that ravaged the economy, promoting the new numbers and planning to carry that message with him on a trip to Maine later in the day. But his jarring reference to Mr. Floyd overshadowed it.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was among those who immediately criticized the president’s remarks.
“George Floyd’s last words — ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ — have echoed all across this nation and, quite frankly, around the world,” Mr. Biden said. “For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd I, frankly, think is despicable.”
Mr. Biden pointed out that the economic news that Mr. Trump was so intent on celebrating did not extend to black Americans, whose unemployment rate had actually risen to 16.8 percent from 16.7 percent.
“The fact that he did so on a day when black unemployment rose,” Mr. Biden added, “tells you everything you need to know about this man.”
Trump isn't religious. He just uses religion for his own political purposes now and then.
Still, how could any sensible person (which doesn't describe Trump) believe that someone who recently died in a horrible fashion, tearing him away from loved ones, would be "looking down" from heaven, or wherever, saying that a jobs report was a great day for himself?
Aside from being an incredibly stupid thing to say, it was horribly insensitive to George Floyd's family and friends. This just shows how narcissistic Trump is, being incapable of empathy and compassion for others.
Then there's a small story close to home, right here in Salem, Oregon, that has a more tenuous connection with religion -- but a connection nonetheless. Below is how I described it on Facebook posts today. This is a quote from the no such thing as secular story mentioned in the post which, naturally, I heartily disagree with:
“Said another way,” Vande Griend continues, “this class is about learning to practice in our real lives what Abraham Kuyper declared when he said, ‘There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!’”
SALEM MAN CALLS POLICE FOR WRITING BLACK LIVES MATTER MESSAGES IN CHALK ON PUBLIC SIDEWALKS. Only in Salem... hopefully. Amazing display of concern by Doug Vande Griend, who spelled out his name during the phone call to police that was captured on video.
Naturally I Googled this name. Unless there are two men with the same name in Salem, Vande Griend appears to be an attorney who writes about deep Christian notions such as "there is no such thing as secular." (subject of his third-year thesis in law school)
Interesting. I definitely consider there is such a thing as secular, being decidedly non-religious myself. But, hey, each to his own. Along that line, a Doug Vande Griend wrote a piece, "The Role of the Church in Society," that concluded with the passage below the line.
It seems to me that Vande Griend certainly was trying to "lord it over others" when he objected to peaceful writing of timely messages on a sidewalk. Likely the coming rain will wash the chalk away, so an "appropriate sense of humility" would have been to smile and applaud this display of civic activism.
"People instinctively want their perspectives, whatever the topic, to prevail over those of others. But that want can be sinful. An appropriate sense of humility should restrain us from trying to 'lord it over others (Church Order, Art. 85). May we pray for that sense of humility."