How Ferguson widened an enormous rift between black Christians and white evangelicals

Five years ago today, a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. A human became a hashtag, an uprising occurred and a movement was born.

Much of the attention today and this weekend will focus on remembering Brown, discussing criminal justice reform and evaluating how society has or hasn’t changed since that fateful day. These are appropriate topics to discuss.

But remembering Brown on the five-year anniversary of his killing would be incomplete without acknowledging the impact that this tragedy had on race relations within American evangelicalism.

I know how that day and the subsequent events affected my faith and my relation to those who I once thought of as my spiritual family.

Six days after Brown’s killing, I wrote for the first time publicly about my traumatic encounters with the police. Every black man I know has harrowing stories of being pulled over, searched, handcuffed or even held at gunpoint. When I encouraged readers to "pause to consider the level and extent of injustice that many blacks have experienced at the hands of law enforcement officers,” the responses disclosed a deep divide.

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