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BY ELIZABETH PRUCHNICKI

September 4, 2020


Join the Resistance Prays founder Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons for a Q&A about his book "Just Faith: Reclaiming Progressive Christianity" on Friday, September 11 at 7pm ET. RSVP here.
The latest Black American being remembered for his violent death in police custody
“We need to declare a national emergency on deadly policing,” writes the Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas for Religion News Service.
 
Then the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: "Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” - Haggai 1:3-4
Upon initial reflection, the text above from Haggai seems unrelated to the article on police brutality, but once you compare the political and historical context, parallels begin to emerge. Haggai, a prophet connected to both the High Priest and the Governor, critiques the Judeans for not prioritizing the rebuilding of the temple when many of them had returned from Babylonian exile in 538 BCE.
 
Once you realize, however, that there is another class of people — “the people of the land”— who never left the land because they were already so poor and politically insignificant that Babylon did not displace them, the connections to our current situation with police brutality against communities of color begin to click into place.
 
Haggai critiques the Judeans for prioritizing their own welfare over rebuilding the temple for the community. This leads the suspicious reader to ask: who does the community benefit? And who is expected to bear the cost of rebuilding? Haggai is eager to exploit the impoverished of Judah, who are already struggling to feed themselves and stay alive, in an effort to consolidate religious and political authority. 
 
So, yes: it’s time to declare a national emergency on policing; it’s time to abolish the police. We’ve seen this story play out in the book of Haggai, when an opportunity to rebuild was squandered, and those in charge reinstated a system that continued to benefit a particular ruling class. It’s time to dismantle our criminal justice system so thoroughly that when we rebuild, it is radically inclusive and fundamentally unrecognizable compared to the one we have in place today.
Catch up on the philosophy behind “Abolish the Police” with this article from Mariame Kaba, “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police.”
Beloved God, we have fallen into the same patterns as our ancestors, squandering these blessed opportunities to rebuild. Unshackle us from our limited imaginations, and give us the courage to try. In Your Holy Name we pray, amen.
Elizabeth Pruchnicki recently completed her Master of Theological Studies at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. and has a Master of International Relations from Syracuse University. She is Presbyterian (USA) and a co-host of The TL;DR Bible Show. Listen wherever you get your podcasts!
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