Fear motivated shootings in Baton Rouge, Dallas and in Minnesota last week, Bishop Joseph W. Walker III, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, said announcing voter registration drives and a movement to end the use of deadly force.
“When people are afraid, people react,” Bishop Walker told The Tennessee Tribune. “People do have a sense of hopelessness and fear. It is historical.”
In an extensive statement posted on the Internet, Walker said, “Full Gospel is mobilizing its members to vote to change federal law on the ‘use of deadly force’ by law enforcement officials. The unabridged license to kill African American men, women and children must end! We, through our newly-instituted initiative will mobilize our community to vote on this and other issues of social and moral justice.
To this end, it is our position that the preponderance of incidences involving use of deadly force by some law enforcement officials indicates that we, as a nation, will continue to be in a state of perpetual collective loss until justice prevails in cases of this nature.”
Bishop Walker called for unity at his church on Jefferson Street in August 2014 when residents of Ferguson protested the shooting death of Michael Brown, and the resulting organization, Nashville Unites, was meeting again Sunday, July 11, “to talk about strategy and various things we can do in the community…
“African American men have a justifiable … fear of police …” Walker said. “Not all of them wear the badge with honor… We’ve got to have a conversation about that. Everyone is on edge.
“It’s very real,” he said. “People need to deal with their pain and not take it to negative places.
“Protest has its place, but we have to have progress.”
Still, Walker supports the vigil at Nashville’s courthouse and city hall.
Social media and the superstructure of his denomination are tools that Bishop Walker is using to further the large-scale campaign, he said. It’s to make certain that people register and vote.
In addition to the “heartfelt condolences” to grieving families expressed by Bishop Walker, the Full Gospel Baptist Church International extends sympathies and a call to action by members.
“We are convinced that prayer alone is, in essence, the reliance of faith while dismissing a key factor that proves the efficacy of our faith: actions that align with our unfailing belief. The bible states that ‘pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble…’ (James 1:27 NKJV).
“Because of senseless acts of this nature, many of our sons and daughters have left widows, widowers, parents and children of their own to fend for themselves and perpetually mourn their lives, abruptly shortened by tragic violence,” Walker wrote. “One of the most effective ways to care for this contemporary, untimely and, sadly, growing sect of widows and orphans is to work to institute change that ensures an end to cases such as these, which end in avoidable and horrific deaths, leaving a grieving local and cultural community while a seemingly silent or at best, a hushed larger population carries on with their daily affairs, unaffected.”
The Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International body has opted not to be silent or immobile.