The George Zimmerman trial provides a teaching opportunity for the church, Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said Wednesday on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports." And, one of the main teaching messages is the need for racial justice in America.
"The larger teaching message is that racial justice has not been achieved," he said. "We still live in a fallen and an evil world, and we still live in a country that has a long way to go."
One of the reasons that Zimmerman's acquittal has demonstrated racial division, Moore said, is that white Americans and black Americans are viewing it through different lenses. Whites look at it "microscopically" by observing the specifics of the case and the trial. Blacks look at it "macroscopically" by observing Trayvon Martin's death in relation to a history of racial violence and the mistreatment of blacks by law enforcement officials.
Blacks are "looking at it personally in terms of their own lives and situations in their own lives that white Americans can't really understand," Moore added, "unless they've had ongoing conversations and relationships."
Some, though, go too far in their condemnation of racism in America, Moore clarified. As an example, he mentioned a church sign he saw that morning that read "we live in AmeriKKKa."
"I don't think that's the case," he explained. "I think we can all celebrate and rejoice in the progress that has been made."
For him, Moore continued, the best place to start improving race relations is in churches.
"As a Christian, I think the place for that to start, most ideally, is within local congregations – white people and black people and Latino people loving one another and listening to one another together."