Should Christians participate in peaceful protests?

Monday Musings for July 20, 2020

Good morning, Musers,

With the death of George Floyd, social media exploded — and well it should have! Not only was this legitimate news — which is no guarantee in a world where anyone can say anything about anything anytime and distribute that information around the world in seconds — it was distressing news.

Death by police is no small thing... but especially in the developed world. Larger police departments maintain special divisions to investigate these types of events, and citizen review boards demand even more transparency. The police don’t have an easy job because the police don’t have a private job. They are accountable to those they serve.

But make no mistake: police departments are expensive. Dealing with sin costs us time, money and patience. How much is no mystery: it fits on a spreadsheet! And since police are necessary for every jurisdiction, it is fair to say that we have a budget for sin! But someday, Jesus will come back and review the books (Revelation 20:12). Until then, get used to this. Sin is expensive.

Many people in the world pay any price to have a meaningful police presence, though... like the citizens of Pakistan whose country is ungovernable because the Taliban terrorizes its citizens and won’t allow repairs to the social or physical infrastructure. The citizens of Venezuela, too, are in freefall... watching their county run out of goods after trying socialism for a season... not to mention its history of corrupt and incompetent leaders.

Why are these two countries among the ten most dangerous places in the world to live? One reason is they don’t have enough police. They are simply overwhelmed by the number and power of lawless people. They have no effective government, their people live in despair — and often, they live in fear for their lives!

One benefit of living in a safe country — one with the right of assembly, the protection of free speech and an effective (if not perfect) police presence — is that people have the expectation of going through their days unmolested. And one of the day’s activities might be protesting against the police who are protecting the protestors!

Think about this for a minute: the presence of police, their effectiveness — and the history of their effectiveness — deter evil. So people are protesting against one of the institutions that define a country where citizens can protest.

Now, I’m not calling us to celebrate the systemic racism that is demonstrably embedded in our justice system. I’m calling us to repair it — not to destroy it. Police departments are one of the institutions that make our lives livable... and we are spoiled by their success.

Ancient Rome did not allow protests... nor does radical Islam. This is reserved for citizens like those in the Western nations that have adequate and effective police departments. A Christian’s responsibilities to these institutions are found in Romans 13. That’s today’s suggested reading.

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