How Long?

I had every intention of writing about something else this month. In fact, I have half a draft of a post that I probably will come back to at some point in the future, maybe next month. (Luckily for me, I guess, that topic can be described as evergreen.) However, in light of the manslaughter of Tyre King, Terence Crutcher, and Keith L. Scott this week, I decided that my little corner of the internet this month is best used to say something about the horrible circumstances of society that led to these unfortunate deaths. But solving the dilemma of what to write about only created another problem. As I began to ruminate on these senseless deaths, I couldn’t begin to think of what else to say about them. And then the names came like a flood. Michael Brown. Jonathan Crawford. Jonathan Ferrell. Akai Gurley. Rekia Boyd. Walter Scott. Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray. Eric Garner. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Laquan McDonald. Ezell Ford. Samuel DuBose. All of these people, dead under circumstances where no one had to die and where there was not sufficient reason for anyone to be harmed, let alone dead.

I guess I could quickly dispatch some of the common refrains that arise when another Black person is killed by a police officer under suspicious circumstances. I could talk about how police shootings are different because the police, as an arm of the state, should be more judicious with the use of violence. I could summarily dismiss the red herring of Black-on-Black crime by pointing out that African-American communities have long been trying to quell the tide of violence in their communities and anyone who asks why Black people won’t do something about it only prove their ignorance on the subject. I could talk about the long history of police violence in African-American communities and raise the point that we are barely three generations removed from state-sponsored and condoned violence against Black people in this country. I could argue that no power allows police to be judge, jury, and executioner in our society and that whatever extenuating circumstances may exist in these cases, none of them require that someone die as a result. I could talk to you about how much it personally hurts to watch (mostly) White people grasp at these easy stances just to avoid the painfully obvious fact that people of color, and Black people in particular, live a very different existence in this country as it pertains to interactions with police, and that these incidents are not isolated, but are emblematic of a much broader history that is part and parcel of the African-American experience in the United States.

Instead I want to make this one point. Sometimes I feel like Habakkuk crying out to God, “Lord how long?” But my complaint is not about God, neither is it even about the justice system that seems to fail in so many of these cases. Instead my complaint is for and to my White brothers and sisters. How long will you see these things happening and excuse them away? How long can you see the pain and anguish of the people you believe you will share Heaven with and ignore their cries? There are Black Seventh-day Adventists hurting this week because they feel a little less safe. They wonder if they will find themselves in a situation where their name will become a hashtag despite the fact that they have done nothing wrong. We have seen people killed by police when there was not even a scintilla of impropriety. There is a sense of despair and hopelessness that is never addressed, only forgotten until the next Black person dies under these same conditions. There are things that can be done. This is not a White problem or a Black problem. This is a human problem, and as such we can all have a hand in finding a solution.

Jason Hines is an attorney with a doctorate in Religion, Politics, and Society from the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He is also an assistant professor at Adventist University of Health Sciences. He blogs about religious liberty and other issues at

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Let the one with ears to hear HEAR what the Spirit says to the churches.


The lament of Habakkuk.


I think you should become a cop and show by example how the job should really be done.


Ted Robertson, It is false to suggest that the complaint is against all cops.There are already many cops currently showing by example how it should really be done. No secret here. The problem is that there are many who are not doing it right. Surely, the incidents over the past two years make this self-evident.


Thank you for this post. I feel so overwhelmed and unsure how to respond in ways that will actually help. I can only say that I grieve too, and I thank you for this post. Whenever I’ve tried to talk about this, another white person invariably accuses me of being anti-law enforcement, which I am not! I firmly believe in the idea that we can both wish for the well-being and safety of law enforcement while simultaneously holding them to a high standard of accountability because, as you point out, they are an arm of the state (that we all pay for), and they have our permission to end a life, almost under any circumstances. That is a huge responsibility, and they have a huge job and risk. And yet we cannot simply ignore the disparities in our society–which extends far beyond the boundaries of law enforcement into the criminal justice system, the education system, etc.

I am neither a member of law enforcement or a Black American, and so I feel limited in my capacity to speak. But I do know that conflicts are never resolved until people feel heard (and appropriate steps taken). What I see so many people (almost all white people) doing is simply saying–there is no problem, stop complaining (and far worse things on places like Twitter where the racism that undergirds our society still if very accessible).

Thank you friend for sharing your lament.


as long as we have two diametrically opposed narratives of what actually happened in the keith lamont scott case, as was the case in so many previous cases, there’s little hope for resolution…


I am very troubled by the many irresponsible statement, words and conclusions raised by Dr. Hines posting How Long O Lord?

The death of Keith Lamont Scott this week is tragic. The death of the other individuals is also tragic. Immediate judgement as to the circumstances surrounding Mr. Scott’s death do not justify riots and insurrections. It has been announced within the past two hours that the US Justice Department is sending representatives to review the death of Mr. Scott.

For Dr. Hines to immediately assume that Mr. Scott’s death is a manslaughter is to diminish the legal system which he represents and only inflame the emotions present today. A common definition of manslaughter is “The unjustifiable, inexcusable, and intentional killing of a human being with without deliberation, premeditation, and malice”. Dr. Hines does not know is the killing was unjustifiable, inexcusable and intentional. The actual facts of the case will form the determination of the proper use of words.

Dr. Hines lists 15 names of people who have been suffered senseless deaths. He then goes on to say "“All of these people, dead under circumstances where no one had to die and where was not sufficient reason for anyone to be harmed, let along dead”. Such a general statement without a careful review of the background of the 15 deaths is a statement of either emotion or not being aware of the final judicial outcomes of the majority of the individuals listed.

I believe that words have meanings. Again, a general statement such as " I could argue that no power allows police to be judge, jury, and executioner in our society and that whatever extenuating circumstances may exist in these cases, none of them require that someone die as a result". Dr. Hines, do you really believe there are no circumstances that require the use of lethal force by a police officer? Is it fair to say the life of a police officer is also sacred?


I am at a complete loss as to why my post was removed which was just before Vandieman. Is this an example of the openness to discussion by what has become the radicalization of Spectrum? You see, this is the problem when accountability gets in the way of a filtered narrative. Censure of the press for an alternate view. This has been my contention so often on spectrum.This has become dangerous. Open ideas unless you disagree with a legitimate challenging comment which thankfully some of the others above are also seeing! Oh how things change over 40 yrs…might I add for the worse. I once contributed.

As is spelled out in the commenting guidelines and as has been noted elsewhere in comment threads, moderators are tasked with monitoring comments for compliance with the posted guidelines. When comments fail to demonstrate respect for people and ideas, they will be removed. When commenters post more than one comment per thread, as the guidelines stipulate, subsequent comments will be removed.

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You really don’t get it. This isn’t just about Keith Scott. Was his name the only one you saw in the article? smh

I don’t know the particulars regarding Keith L. Scott’s death, but I do know that video portrayals have shown pretty persuasively that black men in America are dying, at least now and then, at the hands of reckless or hostile policing.

I would also say that when so many Americans can be assumed to be carrying a weapon, and when much of the land is a tinderbox of suspicion and resentment, it must be tough to be a cop.

So Jason is right: we’ve got a “human problem” on our hands. We should be praying for one another, and doing all we can to imagine the moccasins people not ourselves are wearing.


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My post was also deleted when i protested that demonstration turned into rioting, burning, lawlessness, looting, anarchy, and injury to innocents.
And not any Christian, Jew, Muslim preachers were voicing that this behavior was not to be.
I also said than when police ask for “hands up” it was to protect the police person, the person, any bystanders. Same if requested to kneel on the ground. It is for the protection of all.
I stated that there was no calling out against anarchy and lawlessness in Charlotte, Baltimore, Ferguson, and even way back to the time of Rodney in Watts. In Ferguson someone burnt even a black family’s home down in the rioting. What does looting WalMart, stopping 18 wheelers and looting them and burning them have to do with this police incident? And not one protest to stop this lawless behavior by any religious person or group. Is all I was asking.


From my limited perspective it feels as though this article is a challenge for liberal, white America to enter into solidarity with the hurt, insecurity and alienation that results when racial violence enters the public space.

I should probably not feel surprised, but it is interesting to me that for many, this is a difficult step to take without a variety of prevarications or counter demands.

Is there a prophetic challenge for our community who seem to be good on grace but perhaps a bit short on the preference shown in scripture for the marginalized?

In a deeply moving interview with Christa Tippet, Ruby Sales, speaks words of comfort and healing. She draws on the rich resources of the black folk religion, but she also expresses deep understanding and concern for the spiritual crisis of so many white Americans, which she regards as the calling of our time.

Well worth a listen:

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Dont quote commenting guidelines Web ED. We have all seen how poorly the policies are carried out and how subjectively.
The web policies here are a modern rendition of the Marx brothers comedy:“Who you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?”

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My last post to Spectrum editor. I have never used derogatory language or shown adult disrespect for authors on Spectrum. I have, as you know commented for many years. I have challenged the legitimacy of certain comments. I would certainly appreciate you re-posting my original comments and demonstrate/highlight where I “broke the rules.”


The stench of misery arising from this planet is so putrid, foul, and filthy, how do God’s nostrils stand the nauseous, noisome rancidity?

Black youth and young men are mowed down by police and also by gang members in black inner city neighborhoods. Thousands of Zika babies with heads the size of oranges are being born to devastated mothers.

Boatloads of migrants drown at sea by the hundreds/thousands.
Aleppo in Syria is being bombed to smithereens with untold casualties.
Yemenis are dying by the thousands.

Miserable migrants invade Europe. Somalian civil war induces devasting famine. Christian girls aged seven and eight are used as sex slaves and gang raped by ISIS soldiers.

And God sits on His throne implacable, unmoved, uncompassionate, uncaring

How do we know? Because if He really cared about the plight of humanity, He would expedite His son’s Second Coming, and abort all this misery.

How long you ask?

Had Christ come circa 1900, as church prophet EGW intimated was possible,
what countless twentieth century atrocities would have been avoided
– the Holocaust, the Armenian, Bosnian, Pol Pot, Rwandan genocides, Stalin’s gulag, the horrors of the two world wars, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and now ISIS and our current miseries.

While Satan can be held accountable for some/all of these, surely God Himself bears much responsibility when by delaying His Second Coming He allows an avalanche of atrocities, anguish and agony to engulf the planet.

Christ declared emphatically, unequivocally three times in the last book of the Bible, circa AD 60, BEHOLD I AM COMING SOON!!

Had He only kept that false promise, how much human misery would have been avoided, over the next two millennia??

I hold God ultimately accountable because if He really cared, all of this misery would be/could be aborted/avoided by Christ’s return!

But despite all our current miseries, apparently the Lord is unable to return until humanity has experienced a “time of trouble such as never was”

It appears that God’s vengeance, violence, and venom know no end!

Thanks, Jason Hines, for this powerful essay.

I especially appreciate you doing an end run around the usual catalog of white deflections of these issues. Originally, I wasn’t paying attention to white rhetoric about the killings of unarmed Black people, I will happily admit.

Once I did, however, due to the deafening volume of it, I was startled to see the frequency with which Caucasians raised the specter of so-called “Black-on-Black crime,” doing so as a defense for the way that police work when law disintegrates.

Of course, this is a red herring. It’s nonsense. It’s unrelated to the issue of racist, homicidal policing. The FBI says that, in 2014, the white-on-white murder rate was 82%.

That’s not surprising: When they do kill, people tend to kill the people near them, and/or ones that they know. White people tend to be around, and know, white people, and Black people tend to be around, and know, Black people. So, that’s who they kill.

However, “white-on-white crime” is not a term one ever hears on TV, or reads in the newspaper; at least, not commonly. I suspect the reason is because the white people who blather about “Black-on-Black crime” are white supremacists. Their advancement of specious terms, like “Black-on-Black crime,” is merely a way to make fun of Black people. Making fun of Black people is a common, white supremacist pastime.

In other words, if what we were seeing on the news, for decades on end, were images of Black cops shooting unarmed, white, female, Ivy League college students, the white response would not be disinterested, as it has been. It would be warlike.



In the early 1970’s Adventist elementary teachers in the Potomac and Chesapeake Conferences wanted to teach students the art of civil discussions, especially when they disagreed with another. Teachers would schedule 20 - 30 minutes during the school day, move classroom furniture to the sides of the room and have students sit in a circle in the center of the room. Dr. Clarence Dunbebin, principal of Sligo Elementary School at that time was one of the ardent proponents of “Quality Circle” sessions to engage students in open discussions of topics presented by the teacher. I remember two of the rules students had to comply with, rules teachers monitored with great care: 1. Every student had the right to express their view on the topic being discussed; and 2. Students could express their views on the topic without laughing at, tearing down or putting down the views expressed by their classmates.

I don’t know Jason Hines, but it took great courage for him to write two posts on a hot-button issue, the loss of African-American lives by or at the hands of law enforcement officers. His posts expressed his heart cry! As a fellow Adventist Christian I say a prayer for those who are hurting, for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one, and yes, even for those who are angry at the injustices they have experienced or continue to experience. Come soon Lord Jesus! But until then, heal our nation, and bring peace!


As a white American, and a gay American who recognizes the benefit of belonging to a cohesive identity group, I think it is so important that we recognize and embrace our white privilege and use it to help bring about change in the racial inequality between us and our friends if other racial backgrounds. White privilege exists and there is no point or benefit in continuing to deny it but all the benefit of recognizing ourselves as a privileged group who may not deserve that privilege but have it. As white Americans we do have an outsize influence on political and social realities whether we admit it or not.

We are often told that being white means that you are by definition racist and that is a real turn-off. We are also told that we do have a privilege which is generally considered a good thing but it is wrong to hoard it and use it only for selfish benefit. Why not use it for good and begin to bring about peaceful change and giving others of diverse groups the opportunity that they deserve?

Recognizing and embracing privilege (i.e. reality) and then sharing it with others outside your group is the first step to peace and justice.


Have you really read this article?