Christian leaders across the United States have expressed horror and outrage at the shooting of a 25-year-old black man in Georgia.
Ahmaud Arbery was out jogging in Brunswick when he was confronted by a father and son who said they believed him to be connected to a spate of burglaries in the area. As Arbery attempted to evade the pair, he became involved in a tussle with one of the suspects, before being shot dead.
While the killing took place back in February of this year, police only decided to take action this month after a video of the incident was leaked by a witness, causing a nation-wide uproar. The two suspects – former police officer Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34 – have since been arrested and charged with murder.
"He was out for his daily jog and he was hunted down like an animal and killed," his mother Wanda Jones told CBS News. "I'm hoping that all involved, they're indicted and they go to jail."
On Twitter, the attorney representing Mrs. Jones, S. Lee Merritt, wrote: “The series of events captured in this video confirm what all the evidence indicated prior to its release— Ahmaud Arbery was pursued by three white men that targeted him solely because of his race and murdered him without justification. This is murder.”
The slaying has also sparked responses from a number of prominent Christian leaders in the US, and has ignited racial tensions across the country.
“His name is #AhmadArbery. Say his name – out loud,” tweeted Christian speaker, author and actress, Priscilla Shirer. “To our children. To our grandchildren. To our neighbors. In our churches. To your social media followers. And out of respect for his mourning mother. We can’t ignore this. It’s wrong & devastating.”
His name is #AhmadArbery.— Priscilla Shirer (@PriscillaShirer) May 6, 2020
Say his name - out loud.
To our children.
To our grandchildren.
To our neighbors.
In our churches.
To your social media followers.
And out of respect for his mourning mother. 😢
We can’t ignore this. It’s wrong & devastating.
Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, tweeted that “the Bible tells us, from the beginning, murder isn't just an assault on the person killed but on the God whose image he bears,” before asking his followers to “pray the courts are right and just in their verdict” regarding the two killers.
The Bible tells us, from the beginning, murder isn't just an assault on the person killed but on the God whose image he bears. The courts will decide whether the men who shot Ahmaud Arbery will be punished as murderers—pray the courts are right and just in their verdict.— Russell Moore (@drmoore) May 7, 2020
Christian singer-songwriter John Mark McMillan said watching the video of the killing over and over made him “sicker every time.”
“Two white vigilante terrorists gun down an unarmed black man during his daily jog. Middle of the street. Broad daylight. Why? They said it was because of the way he looked,” the musician wrote on Instagram. “I’ve thought about almost nothing else for days. I’ve been at a total loss for words.”
Hillsong NYC pastor, Carl Lentz, said it was “shameful that a black man can get MURDERED while jogging at the hands of white men with weapons and without forceful protest and objection.”
“That may happen now, but it should not have to happen at all,” he added. “May righteous indignation be our focus. May peace on earth, be our portion. I will fight the temptation to be discouraged and I will cling to the hope that together, we will see change in our country.”
Seattle-based pastor Judah Smith shared a sketch he’d created of Arbery on Instagram, noting that it helped him process his pain as he was praying for the man’s mother, Wanda Jones. “I cannot begin to imagine the pain she is feeling at the injustice of life, especially as we enter into a weekend celebrating mothers and children,” he added.
Many politicians also spoke out about the killing, with Presidential hopeful Joe Biden calling it a “grave injustice” while speaking at a virtual roundtable in Jacksonville, Fla., with local African American lawmakers.
"This family and the country deserve justice and they deserve it now. They deserve a transparent investigation of this brutal murder,” he added.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Sean Rayford/Stringer
Will Maule is a British journalist who has spent the past several years working as a digital news editor. Since earning a degree in international relations and politics, Will has developed a particular interest in covering ethical issues, human rights and global religious persecution. Will's work has been featured in various outlets including The Spectator, Faithwire, CBN News, Spiked, The Federalist and Christian Headlines. Follow him on Twitter at @WillAMaule.