Putting Faith into Action
By: Deni Kamper
As the country mourns after an especially violent and traumatic month that saw the loss of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, five Dallas police officers, and three Baton Rouge police officers, many people are turning to their faith for guidance and comfort.
“It’s time to start looking at our souls,” says Reverend Jacqueline King of the First United Methodist Church, “not only the individual soul, but the soul of our country and congregation.” (Corley) Rev. King’s church is located outside of Baton Rouge, where 37 year-old Alton Sterling was shot and killed by a police officer on July 5.
Like King, religious leaders across the country are addressing the recent violence and the racial tension that is gripping the nation.
Rev. Dr. Joe Connelly leads an all-black congregation at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. Connelly is hoping he can help the people in his congregation deal with their anger over the shootings of Sterling and Castile.
“I don’t want them to feel so angry that it leads to a sense of ambivalence. I don’t want them to leave so hurt or demoralized that they say the problem is so large that it’s hopeless,” says Connelly (Corley).
Although anger has been a common reaction to the recent tragedies, there has also been a lot of fear. Rev. Bryan Carter, who leads a predominantly black congregation in a Dallas suburb, explained how faith can be a remedy to fear.
“Fear can be incredibly crippling, Carter says. “But as people of faith, as believers in Jesus Christ, we understand that when our fear tries to take hold of us, we must look to our faith.” (Corley)
Religion and community often serve as a source of comfort when tragedy strikes. After a sniper killed five Dallas police officers on July 7, the hashtag “PrayforDallas” popped up on social media all over the country and a sign saying “When times are hard keep praying for love, just remember to look above because GOD IS LOVE” was placed on the memorial for the fallen policemen.
President Obama referenced faith and God throughout his speech during the Memorial Service for the slain officers, even quoting the Gospel of John, saying, “let us love, not with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.” (Reilly)
The message of putting faith into action is resonating with people across the country because even as the nation is healing, it is obvious that there is a great deal of work to be done to prevent this type of violence against both civilians and police officers. For many Americans, the strength to act comes from their belief in God and their faith communities.
Rose Tolbert, a employee of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and an African American, was overcome with emotion after leading a prayer in her church for the all of the people affected by these tragedies.
“I came here to get refilled. We need to pray and get active,” Tolbert said. “We need to stand up.” (Fausset, Robertson, Hannah-Jones).
Corley, Cheryl. “As Country Reels From Violent Week, Clergies Offer Messages Of Healing.” NPR. NPR, 10 July 2016. Web. 14 July 2016.
Fausset, Richard, Campbell Robertson, and Nikole Hannah-jones. “On a Somber Sunday, ‘One Nation Under God Examines Its Soul’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 July 2016. Web. 13 July 2016.
Florido, Adrian. “Religious Leaders Encourage Understanding After Week Of Violence.” NPR. NPR, 10 July 2016. Web. 14 July 2016.
Reilly, Katie. “Read President Obama’s Speech From the Dallas Memorial Service.” Time. Time, 12 July 2016. Web. 14 July 2016.