Perspectives about the Trayvon Martin case

On Feb. 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was shot and killed by a member of a neighborhood watch in Sanford, Fla. On July 13, 2013, the shooter, George Zimmerman, was found not guilty, in a verdict that has stirred debate and emotions across the U.S. Following the verdict, Florida Bishop Ken Carter wrote a UMNS commentary, which included:

One can set aside the verdict of the Trayvon Martin death, giving the jurors the benefit of the doubt, and still find the events in Sanford deeply disturbing.

One man is dead, another is free. The deceased was an unarmed young black man. The killer was armed and claimed self-defense, against the background of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. The toxic brew of economic scarcity, racial profiling, escalating violence and community destabilization is at the heart of the experience.

My own commitments are these: to encourage those congregations in the Florida Conference that reflect the multicultural diversity of their communities; to question more publicly the “Stand Your Ground” laws of our state, and its incompatibility with our General Rule to “First, Do No Harm;” and to bear witness to the cross, which has broken down the dividing wall of hostility that is between us.

This is the peace of Christ, which the world can neither give nor take away. This is our birthright gift. The world is in need of it now.

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Trayvon Martin and racial profiling

DES MOINES, Iowa (UMNS) — “African Americans in the United States are not of one mind on all things regarding politics, religion, or race,” notes Bishop Julius C. Trimble of the Iowa Area. “Many who read this article will note they are fully aware of their own stories; never defined by permanent despair, but unyielding hope. Hope in a God of justice and mercy; and a world we can make better.”
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Trayvon Martin’s death a tragedy

CHICAGO (UMNS) – “Putting faith into action sometimes requires that we rally, vote, and stand for change in our systems,” writes Bishop Sally Dyck of the Chicago Area. “It means that we make our neighbor’s good our own whether it literally be a neighboring community or the actual neighbor next door.”
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White privilege and Trayvon Martin

PITTSBURGH (UMNS) – Those of us who benefit from “white privilege” should be very careful to think before we speak any word of judgment and condemnation in this or any case involving potential racism, writes Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of the Pittsburgh Area.
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Bishop: ‘Seize teachable moment’ after Zimmerman acquittal

LAKELAND, Fla. (UMNS) — Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida Annual (regional) Conference says after George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin that it’s time to return to Jesus’ core teachings about peace-making and reconciliation.
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Finding peace and seeking answers in shooting case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) –– Many took to the streets to protest the not-guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, but many also went to their houses of worship to find peace and seek answers. Kathy Gilbert provides a look at what United Methodists are saying.
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Reactions to Trayvon Martin’s death in context

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell writes, “before any people ignore the gravity of the response of black individuals like myself to the killing of Trayvon Martin and the trial of his killer, I suggest they turn in the United Methodist Hymnal to No. 519, ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing.’”
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Time to have the difficult conversations

MARION,  Ind. (UMNS) — In light of the George Zimmerman trial, the Rev. Kwasi Kena offers tips on starting difficult conversations.
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Sound the Alarm: Bronx pastor responds to Zimmerman verdict

NEW YORK (UMNS) — “This is not the time for usual pastoral letters indicating support for the aggrieved while being careful not to offend the white majority,” writes the Rev. Doug Cunningham.

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More reaction to Zimmerman acquittal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — Bishop Gregory V. Palmer of the West Ohio Annual (regional) Conference finds a Gospel lesson and Bishop James Swanson of the Mississippi Conference gets personal in writing about the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Read Palmer commentary
Read Swanson commentary

Retired Bishop Linda Lee, interim top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, invokes the biblical story of Esther in another piece on this subject.
Read Lee commentary

The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race also has released a statement that speaks out on the issues of violence and incarceration.
Read commission statement

Bishop’s Call to Prayer – Trayvon Martin

PASADENA, Calif. (UMNS) — Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, president of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, calls for prayer for both the Martin and Zimmerman families following the verdict of not guilty in the trial of George Zimmerman.
Read her full statement

“Not Guilty But Not Innocent”

INDIANAPOLIS (UMNS) — “It helps to remember that being found ‘not guilty’ is not the same thing as being found ‘innocent,'” writes Indiana Area Bishop Mike Coyner. He offers suggestions for how Christians should respond.
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  1. Aliceinwonder

    I don’t want to talk about ANY of the other blacks who were killed by black on black gang wars. I only want to focus on this ONE incident where a young man was painted as a (VERY FALSE) saint and another made out to be a ruthless killer. I also don’t want to talk who is responsible for the human scarifies to Allah in Benghazi. I don’t want to talk about the jobless rate. I don’t want to talk about the million and MILLIONS of tax dollars spent on vacations for the Obamas. I don’t want to talk about the coming economic collapse. I don’t’ want to talk about what the Federal Reserve did with $13 trillion dollar of OUR money and have yet to be held responsible or audited for it. I don’t want to talk about the butchered unborn. I could go on and on…………..

    1. Charles E. Spickard

      AMEN!!! AMEN!!! AMEN!!!

  2. Aprilmonkey

    In his comments on Trayvon Martin’s death, President Obama said that he, like so many other young African-American men, was racially profiled when he went to the department store, crossed a street or stepped into an elevator with a white person. As an ethnic minority person this happened to me too. (I’m Asian-American, not African-American and graduated from Harvard Law School four years after Obama). When a white person is racially profiling a person of color, instead of getting angry and calling that person “racist” or “prejudiced”, we should rather ask ourselves what caused the profiling person to be afraid of the “other” “black” person. What was their story and experience? I don’t believe white people are born “racist” or “prejudiced.” But I believe that we all are shaped by our own personal experiences and stories.
    For example, both my brother-in-law and uncle were robbed at gun point by African-American young men in broad daylight! My wife works for a major retailer and gets jelled, screamed at and threatened with lawsuits by African-American customers almost on a weekly if not daily basis! Several months ago, I was threatened by another clergyperson in my church who happened to be African-American! We live in a state that was terrorized by an ex-LAPD-cop-gone-rogue who went on a killing spree and happened to be African-American. No doubt, this personal experience shapes our perception of black men.
    Has President Obama kept this context in mind when he implied that America is racist?

  3. Charles E. Spickard

    You have made perhaps the most intelligent post I have seen yet on this subject.

    1. Aliceinwonder

      http://youtu.be/Ebu6Yvzs4Ls Bill Whittle explains it all in bites that anyone can handle.

  4. Aprilmonkey


    I am reading a book written by African-American scholar John McWhorter entitled “Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America.” It was on the New York Times Bestseller list in 2000. In this book, the author argues that the biggest problem facing the African-American community is not white oppression but black defeatism, which is made up of three main components: victimology, separatism and anti-intellectualism. Victimhood is not a problem to be solved but a cultural identity to be nurtured. Separatism flows from the perception that everything that’s “white” is inherently oppressive and therefore should be shunned. Related to this, anti-intellectualism stems from the tendency to view education and academic achievement as something “white people do.”
    “Racism” or the “race card” have become an excuse for not taking a hard look at the pressing issues of personal responsibility, sexual ethics and criminality among young black men. Conversely, the liberal political establishment plagued by “white guilt” and exhorted by “black anger” resorts to social programs and policies that perpetuate the status quo among African-Americans.
    Unless both liberal establishment and African-American community stop obsessing over historic oppression and start focusing on the real problem of black defeatism, the downward spiral for blacks in America will continue.
    What’s remarkable is that all this comes not from a white privileged man but an African-American scholar who has the chutzpah to call the “elephant” by its name!

    1. Aliceinwonder


  5. Pastor Gary W Gourley Sr

    Comments on the Tragic case of the Trayvon Martin – George Zimmerman.
    Anytime there is violence, danger, hurts and death, it is tragically sorrowful for all of us. When one person is hurt, all humanity is hurt in some way. We as human beings and fellow citizens of our respective countries can help build a better society and community by practicing the Commandments of Jesus. The Golden Rule is still life changing for those who will let it be their rule of life. “As we would have done to us, so let us do also unto others.” And there is another commandment just as life changing; “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and might, and your neighbor as your self.” Jesus also said, “Let ‘us’ love one another.”
    Remember, most of us do not have all the facts in this case … so let us be kind and patient. The Lord Jesus will bring all things to perfection in His own time. Let us be kind servants of the Most High God. Let us work together to seek the good of the land the Lord our God has placed us. May God save us from contributing to the ill will and evils of this present world system.
    Rev Gary W Gourley Sr
    Pastor, Paynes Chapel UMC
    Bunker Hill, WV.

  6. Jim of Raleigh

    If America and the black community was truly concerned about young black men being killed they should look into their own backyard. Whether it be Chicago, Detroit, DC or Durham, NC the vast majority of those killed are by other black men. The difference is that to many of them are not part of a family unit. When I was a kid , my black friends were just like me, they had a Mother and Father at home now there is no Father figure and the black community is lead by race baters like Jessie and Al who do only those things that get them the spotlight. That’s not the kind of leadership that MLK gave.

  7. Jim of Raleigh

    Why is this the center of discussion in the Methodist Church. Neither party in the case was a Methodist. It changes nothing in the Methodist Church and the Lord knows we have many problems that need our attention. The Methodist leadership has certainly lost focus when many young black men are dieing in many American cities and no one says or does anything about it. The church has become just another media outlet instead of a church of action and results. Is it any wonder that Methodist are lost in the world?

    1. Robert Winters

      The role of the United Methodist Church should not be in condemnation of Zimmerman but in recognizing the lawless violence problem within the black community and working with these communities, sharing the gospel and trying help the black community rebuild their family units which are at the heart of this violence. Most of the black violence is black on black and with only a small part of the violence on blacks by other ethnic groups. I repeat Travon Martin attacked George Zimmerman.

  8. Rev. Robert Winters

    The “Stand your ground laws” were not any part of the issue. The issue was self defense. When you are attacked by a 17 yr. old teenager and find yourself unable to defend yourself is self defense. The media, presented a very biased picture of Trayvon Martin as well as George Zimmerman. The judge completely would not allow a picture of the violent and activates and drug use of Martin. When I was 17 years old I weighed a55 pounds and could lift 300 lbs. over my head. Identifying Martin as a young helpless boy was a complete and intention distortion.

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