Where is the church in the Black Lives Matter movement?

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(The Atlantic)

Where is the church in the Black Lives Matter movement?

The spirit of the black church has long animated the movements for civil rights and social justice in America. The call and response, the vocabulary of oppression and solidarity: These are the languages of sanctuaries and pews, of Sunday morning worship and Bible-study vigils.

But in the black- and youth-led political activism of the last several years, the church hasn’t been nearly as visible as it was in the civil-rights movement of the 1960s. After many decades in which the most prominent black activists were ministers, religious leaders seem to be playing supporting roles in the most recent wave of activism.

In Baltimore, this is particularly stark. Nearly a year ago, the city saw widespread riots and political outcry after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died of spinal injuries while in the custody of police. The long vibrant local activist community caught national attention, including a widely shared moment in the conflict when community leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder with gang members in a northwest Baltimore church. In an earlier generation, Baltimore’s churches might have been the primary staging grounds for organizing protests and political action. Increasingly, though, the church is more of a backdrop.

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