Before consideration of a criminal justice social statement came before the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, members of the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Mission Area (they don't call it a synod) were already talking about issues of justice and inequality within criminal justice, immigration and other systems of modern society.
In May an ecumenical audience of more than 200 gathered at King of Glory Lutheran Church, Dallas, to hear legal scholar Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness (New Press, 2010).
"It is great to be surrounded by people who are willing to engage in meaningful dialogue about our system of mass incarceration, a system that has devastated so many of our communities, destroyed so many families, and literally turned back the clock on racial progress in the U.S.," Alexander told the group.
"A vast new racial under-caste now exists in America — in Chicago, in Dallas, in Boston, in Philadelphia — entire communities where nearly every young black man can expect to spend time in prison. [They are] locked up, permanently locked out, trapped in a permanent second-class status eerily reminiscent of eras we supposedly left behind."
Bishop Kevin Kanouse called Alexander "a prophet in our midst," adding, "There should have been 1,000 more people here tonight."
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