The Black Lives Matter movement was spurred by the controversial killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012. This movement does not seek to elevate Black lives above others. Rather, the movement seeks to help people recognize that Black lives matter no less than other lives, and to expose how Black people have been and continue to be dehumanized and considered insignificant, expendable prey in our society.
An organization emerged out of the movement. Multiple chapters have been created in cities across the continent, all sharing the mission of the Black Lives Matter movement. To learn more, visit blacklivesmatter.com. The ELCA churchwide organization does not provide financial support to this chapter-based organization.
#BlackLivesMatter is a social media campaign aligned with the movement. Participants, including ELCA members, determine whether and how they will engage in this grassroots movement.
The “Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent” states, "The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) apologizes to people of African descent for its historical complicity in slavery and its enduring legacy of racism in the United States and globally. We lament the white church’s failure to work for the abolition of slavery and the perpetuation of racism in this church. We confess, repent and repudiate the times when this church has been silent in the face of racial injustice."
Scripture tells us that each person is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and that God deemed God's creation good. All of us have integrity and value. This church teaches that human dignity is God’s gift to all children of God. Caring for the lives of others lies at the very heart of Christian faith (Matthew 22:36-40). As church we stand in solidarity with the Black community against systemic racism that devalues Black lives. Humans are always meant to be in life-giving relationship with God and one another. When we say that Black lives matter, we are promoting and protecting human rights and living out God's commandment to love our neighbor.
Some Black Lives Matter activists have created a 10-point policy platform, “Campaign Zero,” to improve relationships between local law enforcement officers and the communities in which they serve. It promotes changes in police training and policy and supports laws aimed at redefining public safety. It encourages community participation in public safety and advocates for police force hiring demographics to reflect the communities in which the police serve. According to Campaign Zero’s website, the goal is to humanize the people being detained and/or arrested. To learn more about this organization, visit joincampaignzero.org.
In 2016, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted the resolution “Examining the Opportunities and Implications of Campaign Zero, a Policy Platform in Affirmation of Black Lives Matter” [CA16.02.03d]. After consulting with churchwide organization staff and examining the platform, the ELCA Church Council adopted this resolution at its spring 2017 meeting. It resolves “to acknowledge [that] the Campaign Zero policy platform is in alignment with this church’s criminal justice social statement, but to recognize the insufficient resources for the churchwide organization to provide an educational or organizing campaign in support of Campaign Zero” [CC17.03.10r].
This church supports efforts to confront racism and white supremacy. In 2019, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted a resolution condemning white supremacy [CA19.04.18]. ELCA members can join the efforts to end racism by participating in the ELCA Anti-Racism Pledge at elca.org/racialjusticepledge.
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton and Vice President William B. Horne II, an ELCA member from Clearwater, Fla., have hosted two conversations on racism.
Sign the pledge, “I commit to study, prayer and action to become an anti-racist individual in an anti-racist church.”Sign the pledge
Campaign Zero is a 10-point policy platform created by the #BlackLivesMatter movement to address and improve relationships between local law enforcement and the communities in which they serve.Visit Campaign Zero