by Helen Silvis
NNPA News Service
After a gang killing, the victim's friends and associates often show up to the funeral decked out in gang attire. And the display can spark more violence, in the neighborhood or even at the funeral itself.
Now, a group of about 30 pastors from about 20 churches in Portland, Ore. want to make funerals gang-free zones, by banning the colors, clothing and music associated with gangs, during funerals. The pastors said they don't want to exclude anyone, but have been motivated by the ancient idea of Sanctuary.
Churches are sacred, ground where everyone can gather and leave conflict outside, said Rev. T. Alan Bethel, pastor of Maranatha Church of God.
No matter how the pastors differ in doctrine or belief, he said, "All of us have within our charges something about the safety of people, something of the spiritual wellbeing of all....We want you to be safe from all intimidation whenever you come to a service in any houses of faith.
"We believe that there is decorum to be held inside of our houses of faith, inside of our sanctuaries."
The pastors say they have created a "Covenant For Violence, or Gang Related, Funerals," and have issued a document that spells out the new rules. Pastors will meet with the victims' families and make sure that song lyrics, clothing and speakers at funerals all meet the agreed, "standards of decorum."
They say victims can't be dressed in gang colors or insignias. And funeral attendees should not wear hats, clothing or colors associated with gangs, "such as royal blue, orange, green, or red."
I'm very glad to see the faith leaders coming together to support an initiative that's very important to our kids and our families," said Darryl Dixon, chief diversity officer with Multnomah County.
(Special to the NNPA from the Skanner News)