Faith leaders praise Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdicts, acknowledge work ahead

People cheer after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

(RNS) — As the judge thanked jurors for their “heavy-duty jury service,” reactions had already begun to the three guilty verdicts in the trial of former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.

Chauvin, a white man, kept Floyd’s neck under his knee for more than 9 minutes, killing the Black man and sparking a national and global reckoning about race and police brutality.

In remarks Tuesday (April 20) after the verdicts, President Joe Biden spoke of how Floyd’s legacy should be about peace rather than violence.

“It’s my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy,” the president said, with Vice President Kamala Harris standing nearby. “This can be a moment of significant change.”

Religious leaders and faith-related organizations reacted swiftly to the verdicts. Here’s a sampling:

Jemar Tisby, author of ‘How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice’

“This verdict will not bring George Floyd back, and we have yet to hear the actual sentencing, but for the moment, at least the blatant disregard for Black life did not get exacerbated by yet another failure of the courts. We have been holding so much in for so long. Now is a moment to feel what we feel. And there’s no ‘right’ emotion in moments like these. We need to make space for people to feel all kinds of ways. For now, though, I hope we as a people can do what George Floyd was not allowed to do — breathe.”

The Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner, co-convener, National African American Clergy Network

“Praise God that former white police (officer) Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all charges for the public execution of a father, and brother, Mr. George Floyd. While I feel great relief, sadly, this verdict means that a Black person must be murdered in public, followed by massive global protests for justice to be done. Sadly, too, the policing system is still on trial and must be radically transformed so that Black lives matter … then indeed, all lives will matter — Latino lives, Asian lives, Indigenous lives and White lives. We continue to pray for every Black and Brown mother whose unarmed son or daughter was killed by police and paid no price for it.”

The Rev. Jim Winkler, president, National Council of Churches

“I was able to see with my own eyes that Derek Chauvin was guilty of killing George Floyd and so, too, did the members of the jury. I pray this verdict will help advance the cause of racial justice even though we still have a long way to go.”

Bishop T.D. Jakes, author and Dallas megachurch pastor

“While we are delighted by the jury’s verdict, we are mindful that there’s still a lot of work ahead of us. Our criminal justice system remains deeply flawed. Black people disproportionately remain victims of police brutality and are more likely to be pulled over or cited for negligible or phantom traffic violations. Let us not relent in our efforts to press our local, state and federal elected officials for police reform, particularly as it relates to qualified immunity, bias training, de-escalation training and uniform hiring standards.

“My prayer is that this will ignite a safer society where justice is equally allocated to absolutely everyone irrespective of socio-economics, race, religion or gender. Thank you to the many officers who do not stoop to such atrocities and honestly work toward protecting us every day.”

Farhana Khera, executive director, Muslim Advocates

“The whole world saw George Floyd beg for breath, for his mother and finally for mercy before dying as Derek Chauvin’s knee was on his neck. The jury’s guilty verdict is a long-overdue measure of justice for the Floyd family. … Further, we must all take drastic, immediate action to overhaul the law enforcement and justice systems that have allowed this violence to continue for so long.”

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

“Today’s decision has demonstrated yet again how far we have to go on our long march toward justice. The wounds of our past continue to bleed into our present reality and the tensions in American life — revealed by this terrible tragedy — have remind(ed) us that there will probably be another George Floyd and another Derek Chauvin.

“The remedy — politically and judicially speaking — is the blind eye of justice guiding our legislators and judges, but the remedy for the soul of America is empathy, understanding and love of one’s neighbor whatever the color of their skin.”

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

“The racist systems that have endured for more than 400 years perpetuate the brutalization of People of Color — including, all too often, by law enforcement. The heartbreaking fact is no verdict or sentence can bring back George Floyd to the loving arms of his family, nor all those who are killed by police. What today’s verdict can and must do is affirm that those who take human life callously must be held accountable for their actions.”

Sen. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta

“First and foremost, I’m thinking about George Floyd’s children and his family, and I’m thankful that they received something that approaches justice today after the trauma they’ve endured — one we’ve seen visited upon Black people and communities of color time and time again, and that never becomes less painful.”

“As a voice for Georgians in the Senate, and as a Black man, I hope today’s verdict is the beginning of a turning point in our country where people who have seen this trauma over and over again will know it is possible to have equal protection under the law.”

Bishop John Stowe, president, Pax Christi USA

“This verdict respects both the rule of law and what the whole world watched on video. More importantly it affirms what has been shouted on our streets for nearly a year, George Floyd’s life matters, Black lives matter. Let us pray that a precedent has been set that will allow people of color to know that their lives are to be protected by law enforcement and that there will be consequences when they are not.”

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, Baltimore-Washington Conference, United Methodist Church

“Although the justice system has worked, there is still a family in pain over the unnecessary loss of their loved one. This is not a moment for celebration; it’s a time for reflection for all those involved in the death of George Floyd and all that unfolded in those nine minutes and 29 seconds last May, which prompted the largest movement for human rights in our nation’s history. It is a time for reflection on why justice is still elusive for far too many.

“The verdicts provide greater assurance for all Americans that life, regardless of ethnicity, is sacred, equal, and worthy. It bolsters the truth that each child of God inherently possesses rights that must be respected by everyone, including by those sworn to serve and protect our communities.”

The Rev. Bernice King, CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

“Oh, that George Floyd were still alive.
But I’m thankful for accountability.
The work continues.
Justice is a continuum.
And America must bend with the moral arc of the universe, which bends toward justice.”

The Rev. Walter Kim, president, National Association of Evangelicals

“While this verdict cannot bring back the life of George Floyd, we pray that it enables his family and our country to take one step further on the long and hard journey toward true justice and lasting peace.”

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice

“True justice would mean #GeorgeFloyd was still alive. It would mean we’d not have had to wait for this verdict with bated breath, so fearful that yet again a cop would get away with murdering a Black man. May this verdict bring even some small sense of peace to the Floyd family.”

Russell Moore, president, Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

“Grateful for justice rendered in Minneapolis. Let’s remember today the family of George Floyd. And let’s work together for a new era of racial justice and American hope.”

Rachel Laser, president, Americans United for Separation of Church and State

“Today a jury held Derek Chauvin accountable for the murder of George Floyd. We know this conviction is not even close to the end of the continued fight for justice. The larger injustice is the systemic racism that continues to infect every facet of our society. As an organization dedicated to freedom, democracy and equality, we join in solidarity with those fighting for racial justice. And we send our profound sympathies to the family and friends of George Floyd and many others who have unjustly died at the hands of the police. This verdict marks a small step in a long road to systemic change, accountability and healing.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation

“Americans — white or Black, religious or freethinking — must speak up and demand not only justice for Floyd, but a national reckoning with racial profiling, police brutality, vigilantism and institutional indifference and racism. The jury verdict was a step toward this national reckoning.”

Shanene Herbert, director of American Friends (Quakers) Service Committee’s Healing Justice program in Saint Paul, Minnesota

“The brutal murder of George Floyd is the consequence of a racist system that disproportionately targets people of color for violence, imprisonment and premature death. No matter the outcome of the trial, young people of color are living every day with the ongoing trauma of police violence, the militarization of our cities, tear gas invading their homes and brutality against protesters. Instead of this constant dehumanization, we need resources to help us heal and rebuild the beloved community we all deserve.”

Tarunjit Singh Butalia, executive director, Religions for Peace USA

“Today is an important stepping stone for racial justice in our country. We need to begin to heal our nation from its original sin of racism, and together we can and will. As people of faith we must always stand with the oppressed and struggle with them till we can truly become the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Episcopal Bishop of Washington Mariann Budde; Washington National Cathedral Dean Randolph Hollerith; the Rev. Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., canon missioner of the cathedral; and the Rev. Robert W. Fisher, rector of St. John’s Church of Lafayette Square

“George Floyd’s tragic death has prompted a national reckoning on racial injustice, and rightfully so. Because of what the world witnessed, the will and awareness needed to bring change — in our institutions, our culture, our politics and yes, our hearts — is on the rise, and we give thanks to God for this glimmer of light in the shadow of suffering. Together we will find a way forward toward a more just society and God’s dream for us of beloved community. May God have mercy on us all, and order our steps in the ways of justice and peace.”

Evangelical Covenant Church

“The fact remains that George Floyd’s life was needlessly taken. George Floyd’s death illuminates a broader issue regarding the frequency with which deadly force is deployed by law enforcement against Black and Brown citizens and neighbors when alternative choices — non-lethal choices — could and should be made. This is not an indictment of all police officers. We know many serve with dignity, equity and selflessness, and we applaud them and commend their service. However, when an officer demonstrates disregard for human life, as was the case with Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, law enforcement must be held accountable. We implore officers who serve with integrity and protect our communities to willingly lend their support and voice to hold other officers accountable whenever they abuse their power.”

Greg Sterling, dean, Yale Divinity School

“We have all waited with palpable anxiety for the jury verdict in the case of Derek Chauvin. We have feared there would be a repeat of what has taken place far too many times, when white police officers have been acquitted of crimes against African American members of our communities.

“Today, justice was served. Today, justice stands tall. We know there is still a great deal of work to do, however, before justice prevails across our country. May we each commit ourselves to liberation and justice for ALL.”

Council of American-Islamic Relations

GUILTY. Alhamdulillah. #DerekChauvin

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development

“Today, a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd. As we receive this result, we recall that God is the source of all justice, love and mercy. The death of George Floyd highlighted and amplified the deep need to see the sacredness in all people, but especially those who have been historically oppressed. Whatever the stage of human life, it not only matters, it is sacred.”

“Let us pray that through the revelation of so much pain and sadness, that God strengthens us to cleanse our land of the evil of racism which also manifests in ways that are hardly ever spoken, ways that never reach the headlines. Let us then join in the hard work of peacefully rebuilding what hatred and frustration has torn down. This is the true call of a disciple and the real work of restorative justice.”

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

As the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. echoed Theodore Parker, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ Let’s bend it together.
In both my work as an interfaith leader and a dancer, rethinking is all about opening our minds, asking questions, and having conversations.
Some U.S. churches have been reckoning with this activity for years through ceremonies, apologies and archival investigations, while others are just getting started.
A global study of the communication patterns of 1.3 million workers during the global lockdown showed the average workday increased by 8.2% during the pandemic, and the average number of virtual meetings per person expanded by almost 13%.
Across Missouri, hundreds of pastors, priests and other church leaders are reaching out to urge vaccinations in a state under siege from the delta variant. Health experts say the spread is due largely to low vaccination rates — Missouri lags about 10 percentage points behind the national average for people who have initiated shots.
The solution, said Chris Palusky, president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, is “the loving care of a family, not another orphanage.” He pointed to Scripture passages that say God sets the lonely in families and call on Christians to care for those who have been orphaned.
The following interview features Debra Fraser-Howze, founder and president of Choose Healthy Life, an initiative that fortifies community infrastructure to better address the pandemic in Black communities. The interview was conducted by Shauna Morin for IFYC; it has been edited and condensed for clarity.
The seven monks have been clearing brush from around the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and running a sprinkler system dubbed “Dharma rain,” which helps keep a layer of moister around the buildings.
Over 800 Muslim Americans are expected to attend the family-focused event at the Green Meadows Petting Farm in Ijamsville, Maryland, making it one of the larger such gatherings around the country in the era of COVID-19.
Besides demanding equitable distribution of vaccines, the Interfaith Vigil for Global COVID-19 Vaccine Access called on the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual property rights for vaccine manufacturing in order to enable more countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines domestically.
Eid al-Adha, or the “Feast of Sacrifice,” is typically marked by communal prayers, large social gatherings, slaughtering of livestock and giving meat to the needy.
Our Lady of La Vang is said to have appeared in a remote rainforest in the late 1700s to a group of Catholics fleeing persecution in Vietnam.
This article is part of a series called Faith in the Field that explores responses to Covid-19—including vaccination efforts—within different faith communities. 
Yet the debate about the vaccine in Tennessee is not solely a debate about science. Rather, I believe the vaccine debate is also a referendum on our public capacity to embrace vulnerability.
The study found that while there are many promising signs that students perceive support for their RSSIs on campus, there is also considerable room for improving welcome, particularly for students whose RSSIs are a minority.
Coronavirus deaths among clergy are not just a Catholic problem, said Andrew Chesnut, chair of Catholic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, with faith leaders across denominations having elevated exposure rates as “spiritual front-line workers” ministering to the sick and dying in hospitals and nursing homes.
Legislation legalizing human composting has encountered religious resistance from the Catholic Church.
From the 26th of November, 2020, a farmers protest has been in existence on the outskirts of Delhi, India’s capital city. For the past eight months, farmers in the tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, have been fighting three laws that threaten the future of agriculture in the country.
Sivan and I feel that it is crucial to work for increased vaccination rates, particularly with more transmissible and potentially more deadly variants emerging across the country and throughout the world.
We made calls to friends, disseminated flyers, engaged in social media marketing, partnered with faith-based communities, and engaged the local health department to encourage members of our community to come to our upcoming clinic and get vaccinated.
"It’s not about accepting other’s beliefs and pushing your own away - it is about being respectful, while still having the freedom to express your beliefs"

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.