George Floyd: Atheist & Christian Agree; but What’s the Solution?

George Floyd: Atheist & Christian Agree; but What’s the Solution? June 4, 2020

Christianity Asserts that Evil Begins in Corrupt Human Hearts, & Can Only be Vanquished by God’s Grace & Spiritual Revival

Jon Curry is an atheist friend of mine. I not only know him online, but also in person. I’ve been to his atheist discussion groups (and have been the only Christian — or theist — present). Almost always we clash on any broadly “political” discussion (and maddeningly so on both sides). Despite that, he’s still free and welcome to comment on my Facebook page, and I respect the fact that he does so in an overwhelmingly Christian and politically conservative environment (he being very far left politically). But I think he went deeper than politics with his latest comment, and I agree on his analysis of the wickedness of the tragic, outrageous George Floyd murder by a policeman. But then I offer an ultimately spiritual solution to this huge and troubling societal (and “human being”) problem. His words will be in blue.

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The charges against Chauvin now are second-degree murder without intent, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers who stood by are being charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Yes, I’m in favor of this development. I have yet to find anyone of any political persuasion who defends this action (which I say is murder) against George Floyd. If anyone finds a case of agreement from anyone who is not a KKK wacko (where such a view would be expected), please let me know.

Like you say, everyone is in favor of charging these guys; you’d have to be some kind of psycho otherwise. This is just a murder caught on video.

The larger question I think is what is up with this system we have that leads these guys to kill someone so openly and without any apparent concern for consequences? And every other police officer present enabling it. . . . Is it a matter of a few bad apples or a systemic problem? This supports the view that the problem is more systemic.

I get that there are good people that are police officers, they try to do the right thing, get their more violent companions to ease up. The videos we see are going to be the worst examples. But it also appears that the number going along with the abuse is high, and this is an issue that has to be dealt with, not dismissed as a few bad apples. The treatment of protesters is showing this as well. Again, we’re seeing the worst examples, but there are a lot. There are also good examples, like in Flint, that show what is possible where police see themselves more as members of the community as opposed to an occupying force.

So what I’d like to see from my more conservative friends is some empathy for the plight of black people and underprivileged people who live their lives in fear. It is not a myth that only exists in their heads, it is a real problem that we all need to work to fix. So people who get more worked up about looting and broken windows, broken windows can be fixed, the damage done physically to human beings is often not fixable and needs to be more the focus.

Yeah, I am not discussing politics anymore, but this goes much deeper than that, and I agree about as much as I ever have with any comment of yours (stop the presses!). You have hit on a deeper level with this comment and gone beyond mere political talking-points.

I agree that it’s extremely troubling. Just one bad apple can be comprehended, but three others watching and enabling it is beyond insane; pure evil. And they included a black man and an Asian-American and Hispanic-American, so it wasn’t just the good ol’ boy white man’s network. It’s like it represented the increasing diversity of America. And this wasn’t even the South. It was liberal Minnesota: the land of Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale.
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I think we more or less have to conclude that there is truly significant racism and corruption among police: even if it is a relatively small minority. It’s enough for these incidents to keep happening, and enough to conclude that it is absolutely necessary to reform it now.

It’s no different from sexual abuse among Catholic priests and indeed (as we are sadly finding out) in every other sector of society. There are networks that try to cover up these hideous sins. And there is tremendous corruption in government: even you and I agree that what was done with the FBI was against the rule of law and should have never occurred.

I would say (here’s where we start to differ) that it comes down to the ubiquity of sin in the human heart. Jeremiah 17:9 (RSV) states: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?”

As an atheist, you have to look at conditioning and systems, and suchlike (blame it on capitalism or materialism or the racism that continues to reflect the old slave system and more recent segregation and Jim Crow laws). I think those things explain a lot. “We are what we eat.” My major was sociology. I get that and accept it as a big cause.

But something deeper is going on, that ultimately accounts for and brings about pure evil, as we see here, and in horrors like Nazi Germany, ISIS, and the abortion genocide. And the Christian says it is the sinfulness that resides within us, that is only countered by an active grace and discipleship and profound love: following Jesus Christ, the sinless God-Man. He is the ultimate answer.

The human heart (of every single one of us) has to be transformed. That’s why the biggest progress against racism was the result of the non-violent protests of the Christian pastor Martin Luther King. Malcolm X was also influential because he was a religious man of great personal integrity, and started to see through the racism and corruption of his own sub-group of Islam (with its leader sleeping around). I read his Autobiography. I have great respect for him.

We can pass laws and do “reform” and weed out murderers and other corrupt people from our institutions (just like so many “corrupt cop” movies and shows get rid of them and all live happily ever after), but the only lasting change will come from spiritual revival. We desperately need it.

So you and I largely agree on the nature of the current problem. How to ultimately solve it is where we differ. But I think you can agree that religious / social activist people like Rev. King and Malcolm X were a big part of the solution. Insofar as religion plays that role, we need more of it to transform our sick society.

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Photo credit: Phil Roeder (5-29-20). Well over a thousand people gathered in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, joining other protests around the country demanding justice over the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license]

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