Act for Abolition

Condemnation of State-Sanctioned Violence

"If we ignore the murders of innocent Black people in our own country, we are not simply neglecting “social justice” or “political” issues, we are neglecting Jesus himself. If we remain silent on the crucifixions of Black people in the United States, we are not simply remaining silent on a “controversial” topic, we are ignoring the very cross of Christ. The church cannot afford to ignore the George Floyds and Breonna Taylors, because in their murders Christ was crucified all over again. If we really want to point to Christ, if we really want to be “Christocentric,” if we really want to call ourselves Christian, then we must witness to Jesus. Jesus was a victim of state-sanctioned violence. We give witness to Jesus when we give witness to the victims of state-sanctioned violence today."

- Jack Holloway, Leadership Table, St. Lydia's Dinner Church

Learn more at the St. Lydia's Dinner Church website

Resolution against Police Brutality and Mass Incarceration

Presented at the 2021 assembly of the Metro-New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Whereas, hundreds of Black lives are taken by American police every year. 

Whereas, Black persons killed by police are more likely to be unarmed than white persons killed by police.

Whereas, Black male teens are twenty-one times more likely to be killed by police than white male teens.

Whereas, over 98% of police killings result in no charges for the officer(s) involved.

Whereas, according to Lutheran theology, the state exists to preserve the world by establishing order and reigning in human sinfulness, and when the state fails in its preservative function, it is incumbent upon the church to remind the state of its God-given purpose.

Whereas, the United States has failed in its obligation to protect Black lives. Instead of protecting the rights of Black Americans, it has violated those rights, has criminalized Black people, and has established an intolerable system of police brutality and mass incarceration that targets Black lives.

Whereas, the United States has increased its prison population an astonishing 1050% since 1970, so that the U.S. now accounts for 25% of the world’s prison population, despite being just over 4% of the total world population. 

Whereas, mass incarceration has not resulted in less crime–on the contrary, recidivism has made the crime rate even higher than it was in 1970.

Whereas, all over the United States, Black people are incarcerated at much higher rates than white people. In twelve state prisons, Black people account for over half the prison population; in seven others, there are nine Black prisoners for every one white prisoner.

Whereas, we cannot remain silent while United States institutions criminalize, brutalize, enslave, and murder Black people. 

Whereas, we refuse to accept that police brutality and mass incarceration are inevitable. If the United States cannot put an end to the violence and injustice it authors and perpetuates, then it has no right to call itself a just state or an order of preservation. 


  • Police brutality and mass incarceration constitute state-sanctioned violence and we condemn both;
  • Jesus was a victim of state-sanctioned violence, and so identifies with all victims of state-sanctioned violence everywhere;
  • To ignore violence against Black people in the U.S. is to ignore the cross of Jesus Christ;
  • American Christians cannot be silent. A system of horror is operating on our watch, and we must call on our government to account for its failure to live up to its God-given responsibility as an order of preservation.
  • We call upon all church congregations to reflect on the implications of Jesus’ identification with victims of state-sanctioned violence, and to lend their voices in support of those fighting for justice. As Psalm 103 says, “The Lord executes righteousness and justice for the oppressed,” so too should we lift up our voices for the oppressed.
  • We call upon President Joseph Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the Supreme Court of the United States, NY Governor Kathleen Hochul, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, and all U.S. elected officials and supreme court justices to recognize the reality of systemic injustice in our criminal legal system, and to confess the evil of police brutality and mass incarceration.
  • We call upon the whole of the United States to stand up, take action, and make change so that our country might become a country of justice.

Submitted by:

The MNYS Anti-Racism Committee

Rev. Dr. Christian Scharen, Pastor, St. Lydia’s Dinner Church

Jack & Debbie Holloway, congregants, St. Lydia’s Dinner Church

Elizabeth Norman, congregant, St. Lydia’s Dinner Church

Rev. Kelsey Brown, Pastor,  Jehu’s Table 

Using Format