A coalition of Christian groups, including Prison Fellowship and the National Association of Evangelicals, launched a new criminal justice reform initiative Aug. 19 that advocates for policing changes grounded in Biblical principles.
“This is an unprecedented coalition of Biblical Christians from all demographics, who are coming together to address racial injustice in strategic and tangible ways,” said Justin Giboney, president of the AND Campaign, a national urban Christian civil society organization that spearheaded the Prayer and Action Justice Initiative. “We’re putting partisanship aside to pursue justice as is dictated in the Bible. The American church is sending a clear, unequivocal message in opposition to injustice and in support of black and brown people who’ve suffered for too long in America.”
Joined by other partners including the American Bible Society, the National Day of Prayer Task Force, as well as Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and retired NFL star Benjamin Watson, the Prayer and Action Justice Initiative focuses on five areas of concern: equality, accountability, transparency, proportionality and restoration.
“We believe that both crime and police misconduct breach the public’s trust and require accountability,” the group’s policy principles read. “We seek just laws that require accountability for all wrongdoers, including those involved in the administration of justice, and provide opportunities to make amends.”
In recent months, both the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled House have introduced police reform bills, but the legislation remains stalled in Congress.
The Prayer and Action Justice Initiative encourages Christians to take action now through prayer gatherings, peaceful protests, nonpartisan public policy advocacy and support for at-risk churches, largely in minority communities.
“There is a fear that we will be having the same conversation five years from now, just like we were five years ago and five years and 10 years before that,” Watson said. “As a church, the stigma is that we are always late to the party when it comes to race issues. … This is an opportunity to … [challenge] those in your pews to say, ‘We need to take substantive steps to engage and to change the things that are wrong.’”
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