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By Antipas L. Harris / Religion News Service

http://www.ministrymatters.com/reach/entry/5927/racial-reconciliation-demands-christians-reconsider-the-death-penalty

(RNS) A new report by the Equal Justice Initiative documents in horrific detail the nation’s widespread practice of lynching and points to a link between lynching and a practice that persists today: capital punishment.

In the Jim Crow South, lynching declined as officials turned to executions as an alternative method for killing blacks in disproportionate numbers.

This report challenges us to confront our nation’s legacy of racial violence. Sadly, too many Christians were complicit in this violence, which has prompted Christian denominations to apologize and emphasize racial reconciliation.

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Over the last few months there have been many vigorous discussions about the relevance of the Black Church. I have weighed in with two articles basically saying that Black Churches have become kingdom and socially irrelevant. My arguments are sound but Rev. Freddie Haynes clarified both of my papers in one simple statement.

“The reason that the Black Church is irrelevant is because we are raising the most selfish, self centered me, myself and its all mine generation in history. When the “favor of God” is connected to materialism, then kingdom morality has left the scene.”

My personal take away from that session was, Preachers that promote and proclaim popular clichés and ear tingling messages without a moral foundation that is rooted in the scripture make the messenger not only irrelevant but also an accomplice to premeditated sin.

The heart of the Black church has always called for justice based on the needs of marginalized. When you are a part of the marginalized community it is easy to call for justice but when you are a part of the privileged it is difficult to identify the injustices. The reality is that WEB Dubois was right, the more privilege you have the more responsibility we have to engage social systems and inequities for the least, lost and left out.

I believe that there is a lack of understanding about what the Beloved Community is and how it should operate in the 21st Century. Who are the guardians of the dream or the transmitters of the vision? I believe that the Beloved Community is balanced between Chrisitan piety and social responsibility. The ultimate goal is justice for everyone.(Rawl’s Equality Principle) God’s call for us to be in relationship with God and people demands that we share this relationship that we expereince as love, grace and forgiveness so that everyone will expereince what we are/have expereinced. The Beloved Community embraced radical racial and class diversity, economic opportunity for all and justice for those who were oppressed. This is the core of the Beloved Community.

Is this a lost concept with middle/upper middle class Americans? Does the American middle class value working for justice and equality of all of God’s people or only those who are most like them? People who encountered the Beloved Community in the King framework were transformed. They believed that their individual happiness in life (Mill’s happiness Principle) was rooted in the community being whole and unified. (Dyke’s Community is greater than the individual principle) That is why there was a civil rights movement.

Proposition: The civil rights movement is dead. Now is the time for the Beloved Community to become a reality in the lives of Americans.

Thesis: The vision of a flourishing democratic society that President Obama has cast is embodied in the Beloved Community of Dr. King. Without the theological foundation of God’s grace that also seeks justice for all, the vision is incomplete.

Bottled water has become the indispensable prop in our lives and our culture. It starts the day in lunch boxes; it goes to every meeting, lecture hall, and soccer match; it’s in our cubicles at work; in the cup holder of the treadmill at the gym; and it’s rattling around half-finished on the floor of every minivan in America. Fiji Water shows up on the ABC show Brothers & Sisters; Poland Spring cameos routinely on NBC’s The Office. Every hotel room offers bottled water for sale, alongside the increasingly ignored ice bucket and drinking glasses. At Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFMI), the upscale emporium of the organic and exotic, bottled water is the number-one item by units sold.

Meanwhile, one out of six people in the world has no dependable, safe drinking water. The global economy has contrived to deny the most fundamental element of life to 1 billion people, while delivering to us an array of water “varieties” from around the globe, not one of which we actually need. That tension is only complicated by the fact that if we suddenly decided not to purchase the lake of Poland Spring water in Hollis, Maine, none of that water would find its way to people who really are thirsty.
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What is our response as Christians who believe in social justice?  Do we purchase the water and send it to the places where safe drinking water is needed?  Are we willing not to purchase a bottle of water from a company who does not drill wells or provide water for the indigenous communities where the water is not accessible to the people who actually work to provide us with this convenience.

Worldwide, 1 billion people have no reliable source of drinking water; 3,000 children a day die from diseases caught from tainted water.

This type of injustice should motivate us to take action.  We can offer prayers, and form discernment committees but really the people who are without water really need us to find ways to get water to their villages and towns.  Before you tell me that I am asking too much, read this.

So Quartey and his wife Grace, 40, also a Ghana native and a certified public accountant, founded the nonprofit Building Solid Foundations Inc., to ease the water crisis in their homeland, where their parents and most of their families still live.

The couple asked fellow members of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in York to get involved.

“It’s divine,” says Grace Quartey of the resulting ministry. “I just believe God has his hand in this because how we all met and the group we have together is nothing more than a miracle.”

Even a cynic would be struck by events that turned the Quarteys’ dream into a $450,000 clean water project.
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We can make a difference whether we challenge the water bottling companies or help build water towers and drill wells.