I know that your heart is good. I see it nearly every week in your pastors and services, in the softness of your hearts toward God, in your love for each other and for your children. I see it when you serve the community with vacation bible schools and fundraisers for wells in Africa and city wide clean ups. I hear it in your songs and in your prayers, in your Sunday schools and in your sermons.
But Sunday, if you did not pray for the black man right alongside the police man, you missed the heart of God. If a black man had sat in your midst and heard you pray only for the police man and the police man’s family, but not the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the decades of innocent black men killed by police men, I would not have blamed him for standing and shouting out in the middle of your prayer, “What the hell about me?! Do you care about me at all?!” And I would not have blamed him if he stormed out of your sanctuary and wept on your steps, desperate because he found no sanctuary in your midst.
Where were you on Sunday, white church who could not see past its own skin? How long will you stay silent while your brothers and sisters suffer? You wonder why people of color do not join your ranks or stay when they visit you…perhaps it has something to do with the people in your pews who smirk to each other and whisper, “I’m so sick of this #blacklivesmatter thing” when they don’t know you’re listening. Perhaps it’s because you don’t even notice that you didn’t pray for their pain or acknowledge their anguish and you are still stubbornly defending your self-righteous actions. Perhaps it’s because they are worn thin of hearing Jesus tossed about as an excuse to dismiss centuries of racial oppression supported by their very walls.
You may accuse me of being angry—I know that’s not an acceptable way to communicate in our culture—but I can no longer swallow my sorrow silently while you pretend that nothing is happening. More than just police families are weeping for their sons and husbands and fathers, and they have been doing so for centuries. Failing to pray for them is akin to turning your back, sticking your fingers in your ears, and squeezing your eyes shut tight. We are not first graders, family—we are followers of a God who holds a deep and mighty love for the police man and the black man in equal measure; and we will not grow up until we start praying like it.