December 13, 2014 – Rejecting Denial in the Face of Police Brutality and Injustice

From the streets of our major cities to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, an outpouring of outrage and activism continues in the wake of a series of police shootings of unarmed African Americans. This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, host Rev. Welton Gaddy addresses the strained relationship between law enforcement and the African American community.

Welton is joined on the show by civil rights legend Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Jr., senior pastor emeritus of Riverside Church in New York City, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and Bishop Stacy Sauls, who leads reconciliation efforts in the Episcopal Church for conversations on what has brought us to this moment and where we go next. Download Icon

A Rabbinic Call to Action from the Streets of New York
Following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner, New Yorkers took to the streets to protest. Rabbi Jill Jacobs was on the frontlines, along with other faith and secular leaders. She was, herself, arrested. Welton speaks with Rabbi Jacobs about why she felt compelled to join the protests, which Jewish teachings inspire her to step out so boldly for social justice, and what she means when she says, “I am responsible.”

Racial Reconciliation and the Episcopal Church
Welton is also joined on this week’s show by Bishop Stacy Sauls, the COO of the Episcopal Church in America. Bishop Sauls is leading the effort on racial reconciliation within the Church. They discuss the lessons that he has learned about race both within and beyond the Episcopal Church, and the role that organized religion can play in the ongoing struggle for justice for all.

Tackling Polarization – from the Civil Rights Movement to Today
Last week, as the nation was rocked by protests and an increasingly polarized reaction to those protests, Welton spoke with Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Jr., senior pastor emeritus at the Riverside Church in New York City and a civil rights leader whose work dates back to the North Carolina in the 1960s. Rev. Forbes is a prominent African American leader and a prophetic voice for the potential of all of humanity. His wisdom is essential as we continue to grapple with racial inequality in the United States.

Racial Equality and Equal Justice are Issues of the Head and the Heart, Morality and Legality
Welton also offers his own commentary on racial justice in the United States, drawing on his early childhood years in West Tennessee and his experiences in the decades since. He shares that what we must reject in this process is a hope that this will all just go away. It’s denial that polarizes, that excuses and that leads to great human suffering. There is a direct line connecting the deaths of unarmed civilians in our streets, and the kinds of brutality revealed, at long last, in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture that was released this past week. There is an enormous cost to each of us when injustice is done in our name. This was true in the civil rights era, and it remains true today.