• U.S.

Religion: Guilty Before God

2 minute read

The murder got routine treatment from Baltimore newspapers: in a fight between white and black boys one afternoon three weeks ago in Carroll Park, a 19-year-old Negro named Linwood Matthews was stabbed to death. After the police arrested an 18-year-old white boy and charged him with murder, Baltimore went on about its business.

But Baltimore churchmen did some hard thinking about the case and last week published a statement signed by 116 Protestant, Jewish and Quaker leaders. “In the tragedy that occurred in Carroll Park . . .” said the statement, “we see evidence of our common failure and sin. We humbly admit that part of the blame is ours.

“In our hearts, still not completely overcome, is some of the pride of race that expresses itself in prejudice against other races; in our own lives there has been an indifference to social conditions . . . We were called to be leaders for God in bringing the members of His one family into mutual understanding and respect and trust—and we have failed. In penitence we bow in the presence of our common Father God and ask His forgiveness, believing that only to the humble and penitent will He give insight into what all of us, white and colored together, should do in our city to right this wrong . . .

“There must be countless other citizens who feel as we do, guilty before God simply because we have been citizens of a city where a boy could be stabbed to death because of the color of his skin. May God forgive us all and give us courage to find and follow a better way.”

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