The gospel of modern white evangelicalism does not rest on the authority of Jesus’ cross, but on the threat of eternal violence. Instead of submitting ourselves to the slain lamb of God, white evangelicals enthusiastically line ourselves up behind our hero bad-ass God-cop whose most defining characteristic is his love of violent punishment. Instead of being convicted through the authority of Jesus’ blood of all the ways that we continue to crucify him through our injustice, we crucify others with authority as deputies of our bad-ass God-cop.
It is our theology that makes violent authority figures like Darren Wilson, Brian Encinia, and Ben Fields feel completely justified in their savage behavior. Jesus’ cross cannot save us if it is only the receptacle of the violence of a bad-ass God-cop we’ve invented to justify ourselves. Jesus’ cross only saves us to the degree that we recognize it as the place where we have violated God. The blood of Abel continues to cry out from the ground in the blood of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and so many others. But if there are any true Christians in this land, then there’s power in that blood and the authority of the cross will ultimately triumph over the authority of the badge.
If there’s a hero in the story from Columbia, SC, it would have to be Niya Kenny, the classmate of the assaulted girl who got arrested for speaking out in protest of what happened. If you want to talk about obedience, Niya is the one who saw Jesus crucified and was obedient to the authority of his cross. Let us take up our crosses like Niya and do likewise. – Rev. Morgan Guyton, “The Authority Of The Badge Vs. The Authority Of The Cross”, United Methodist Insight, October 29, 2015
Homicide rates in 2010 among non-Hispanic, African-American males 10-24 years of age (51.5 per 100,000) exceeded those of Hispanic males (13.5 per 100,000) and non-Hispanic, White males in the same age group (2.9 per 100,000). – Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, Youth Violence Facts At A Glance 2012
This is addressed to you if you have spent even a moment thinking that former Randall County Sheriff’s deputy Ben Fields was somehow justified in attacking a 16 year old girl. This is addressed to you if you have said or written that kids these days are some unique threat requiring violence to suppress their tendency toward criminality. This is for you if you wrote, “If this were my kid . . .” because – can we be honest here? – if this had been your kid, you’re the parent who’d be on the phone so fast it would hurt the company to connect your call; you’d have lawyers and calling press conferences and suing as many people as you could name. This is addressed to you if you said or wrote, “Well, maybe she didn’t deserve that but . . .” because that “but” shouldn’t be there. This post is addressed to you if you believe in “buts”.
Here are some facts. If you look at that chart – it comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in co-operation with the Department of Education and Department of Justice – youth crime is kinda sorta way down. In fact, it’s kinda sorta so far down that we should be wondering what the hell was wrong with us, those kids back then in the 1980’s and 1990’s when the rates were so high. Kids these days . . . we should be applauding them. Instead, if I’ve read one person write about how “kids these days” are somehow worse, more disrespectful, some spoiled and entitled, I’ve read a hundred. Kids these days are the teachers – they’re teaching us how to live in a society that open and diverse, doing so with far less violence and far more acceptance of difference than has been true in the past. Kids these days are far better than we were. Perhaps we should be grateful for that, rather than pretend kids these days are somehow worse than we were.
Here are some facts. A 16-year-old-girl had just recently lost her only parent. Hurting in ways most of us cannot imagine, her cell phone was her lifeline to her legal guardian, perhaps the only adult to whom she could cling for comfort. When her teacher told – not asked but told – her to relinquish her phone, she apologized and put the phone in her backpack. The teacher insisted she turn it over. She demurred, for obvious reasons. She was then ordered to the principal’s office. She refused to go, which makes sense. The reality is she had done nothing wrong. When the principal arrived, he, too ordered her to the principal’s office. Now, I’m hazarding a guess the principal knew her personal situation; perhaps he could have shown her some understanding and compassion? Instead, he called the school “resource officer”, a cop known around the school as “Officer Slam”. In his infinite wisdom, he slammed her to the floor while still in her seat, tossed her across the floor, then handcuffed her. He then arrested another student who protested his actions and the girl’s treatment.
I’m wondering who was really disruptive?
If you believe schools are violent places where our precious children are in immediate threats to their life, that’s true only if you’re African-American. There’s an epidemic of violent death among our youth: It’s the second leading cause of death overall for people aged 10-24. For African-Americans in that same age-cohort, it’s the leading cause of death. Compared even to Hispanics, African-American youth are being murdered far more frequently. Rather than view African-American youth as some mass threat to our social peace, perhaps we should view them as uniquely victimized, in need of all sorts of assistance and support both public and private to prevent the ongoing slaughter of their children.
Finally, if you call yourself a Christian and you’re still defending Ben Fields’s actions, you should feel shame. Real shame, as in “Wow I really messed up, didn’t I. I feel horrible.” I’m guessing, however, that shame just isn’t part of your make-up. Which is really too bad.
PS: “It’s just my opinion” means you’re willing to ignore any and all facts that get in the way of your pat answer and judgement.
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through – “Changes”, lyrics by David Bowie
I sometimes wonder what adults in charge of youth are thinking. Have they forgotten what it is like to be an adolescent? Do they understand the realities of attraction between males and females? Are they aware of the realities of human sexuality? I ask these questions because an old high school buddy of mine who still lives in the area reported on Facebook that a local school district is imposing restrictions on girls’s clothing. Specifically, v-neck tops and sweat pants. As the above photo of a woman in a v-neck demonstrates, it is obvious why they are now banned. Or maybe not. The reasons stated for the change are simple: measures to prevent teen pregnancy. During a time when the teen pregnancy rate continues to drop as shown on this graph:
In an effort, then, to prevent what is already a declining “problem”, the Athens, PA Area School District appears to be adopting the notion that girls wearing clothing that some might consider revealing, provocative, or perhaps just easy to remove (the only thing about sweat pants that seems remotely alluring). Adopting this position places the onus for preventing pregnancy squarely on the shoulders – and legs – of teen girls. It makes girls’s appearance the reason they are becoming pregnant at the lowest rate recorded. It also assumes teen boys, helpless in the face, or perhaps cleavage, of teen girls find themselves a drooling tumescent mass fixated on coitus at any cost.
There is so much wrong with this, I’m not even sure where to begin. Except, perhaps, with the fact that a school districts’s main purpose is to educate our children and youth. What lesson does such a policy teach kids? Beyond the on-going social conditioning that females are (sometimes, perhaps often) unwitting objects of male desire simply because of their dress, I’m not sure what is being taught. Certainly not the realities of sexual desire, or even human sexuality in general. That some people continue to believe the possible glimpse of cleavage sends your typical male into thoughtless lust and a demand for sexual congress is probably among the more ridiculous ideas out there. By not teaching boys and young men how to control their natural pleasure when confronted by girls, we are perpetuating a system in which girls are responsible for their own victimization.
It would be nice if Athens Schools taught sex ed in such a way that it included promotion of safer sex, contraception, and the realities both of physical desire as well as how the act is consummated, relieving from girls the onus of preventing a possible unwanted pregnancy because they might, under certain conditions, reveal more of themselves than some might think preferable. It might also be a good idea for the Athens Area School District Board to look at the ongoing decline in teen pregnancy rates and consider the possibility they are fighting a battle American society as a whole has been winning for a quarter century. I do not think it possible that there has been a sudden uptick in pregnancies locally due to the prevalence of somewhat revealing clothing. Of course, I might be wrong. That doesn’t justify punishing girls for their appearance.