CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Christian Examiner)--With tensions high from the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and the brutal slaying of two New York City policeman, the non-profit organization STAND (Staying True to America's National Destiny) announced the launch of its Pray For Our Police campaign.
For years, the organization has informally recognized police and tried to instill an honor and respect in the community for the difficulty of their job. This month however, the organization's founder and president, Bishop E.W. Jackson, is asking Christians across the nation to join him in honoring their local law enforcement with the simple act of distributing prayer cards for their encouragement.
"What we want to do is put these prayer cards in the hands of every church and individual that will take them and give them to police stations and officers," Jackson told the Christian Examiner. "We also want to encourage organizations that plan to do Martin Luther King celebrations next month to incorporate honoring police at those celebrations."
Recalling the heroic acts of 9/11 when law officers could be seen running toward the Twin Towers while the masses ran away, Jackson noted that reinstating a respect for law enforcement is critical during this time when so many have forgotten the horrible circumstances many police face daily.
"I have been saying that this lie that police are out hunting down black men has got to stop. We now have two cops murdered in cold blood. It's time for Americans to express our gratitude to our police officers."
Citing bureau of justice statistics that an average of two out of three persons who end up in a violent encounter with police and die are white --not black-- persons, the Bishop noted also that 92 percent of black men are killed by other black men not police.
"Police are dealing with many urban black communities with high levels of crime and danger, doing their job with minimal infliction of suffering, pain or death" he said. Conversely, "criminals are inflicting a maximum amount of pain and suffering and death in the black community."
Clarifying that law enforcement officials are not above reproach, Jackson expressed that police who do wrong should be held accountable to a higher level then the average person. "But if we are going to critize them, we should aslo recognize them for the good job they do on a day to day basis."
Jackson said in addition to encouraging the police another purpose of initiating the Pray For Our Police campaign was to instill in black youth the idea that police are not your enemies. "When you treat them with respect and do not engage in crime or lawlessness you are going to come away just fine."
A Marine Corps veteran and Harvard Law graduate, Jackson said he would like to see black youth focus instead on school and family. "We need to be focused on having (youth) turn their attention to education, on being good husbands and raising good families. Then encounters with the police won't pose a threat to them."
Jackson explained that he ultimately believes the burden of lessening the racial tension in the nation falls upon the church.
"I've said it many times in speeches across the country that if Christains who believe in same Bible and honor the same God cannot come together across racial and cultural lines, there is no hope for the country. But I believe Christians can do that."
And to the constant media coverage of racism in America Jackson said, "I believe very deeply in what Dr. Marin Luther King stood for, and I think the ultimate dream of Dr. King was that we all be judged not by color of skin but by the content of character. I beleive that this is what (Americans) all want. Our country needs to come together and put the past behind us. We need to deal with racial injustice where it exists and not create it where it does not."
Pray For Our Police prayer cards can be ordered through the standamerica.us website. STAND was founded by Jackson in 2009.