So here is what I wrote for that week:
"'Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves are in the body.' - Hebrews 13:3
"I am reminded of this verse as I consider a recent study I conducted in order to prepare for a discussion of ongoing injustice being perpetrated in the United States. One of the elements of that study was the failure of the criminal justice system, which has been guilty of sending many innocent people to prison (and in several cases, to death row). Here are links to some of the sources I read:
- 'Three black men released after 18 years in prison on wrongful murder convictions' (this group is different from the three in the first article),
- 'Exonerations in the United States, 1989-2012' (especially starting at page 30),
- 'How Often Do Wrongful Convictions Involve Black Defendants?' (The answer is between 71 and 73 percent.)
"Minorities (especially African-American) make up a disproportionate number of those incarcerated or sentenced to death in this country, yet the available data seems to indicate that the majority of prisoners of color in the United States are innocent. It is a real challenge for the innocent to prove their innocence and to obtain release from prison, because the criminal justice system purposely makes it hard for convicted prisoners to prove their innocence. Indeed, in 2009, the United States Supreme Court ruled that prisoners have no constitutional right to DNA testing that might prove their innocence.
"Therefore, please remember the prisoners, just as the Scripture has commanded us. Let us remember them in our prayers. Let us pray for their release from oppression and unjust imprisonment. Let us also pray about how we might physically, materially 'show compassion to those in prison' and to their families - Hebrews 10:34. And let us pray for the repentance of the United States."
As I said, it's amazing to me that I was able to send these exact words to the prayer team at that church. Now I guess I should visit a Sunday service to see how those words were received. And as for the hard words I have already written about mainstream American evangelicalism (and about present-day American society), I'm praying for some more delicious reasons to eat those words. We'll see...