Lately there has been a surge of studies variously construed as focused on "religion and violence," "the Bible and violence" or "God and violence." Most of these studies are not very helpful, for they dismiss the shrill reality of violence in facile ways.
Brian Bantum, a theologian at Seattle Pacific, was
mentioned in the Century's recent article on the new black theology. Readers
intrigued by that topic will be interested in Bantum's comments
on a book on racial reconciliation
written by a white Minneapolis preacher, John Piper.
As states have been moving away from mass incarceration patterns, restorative justice models have become more popular. Thirty-five states now have legislation that encourages using restorative justice. Even without statewide legislation, many police departments have made use of local nonprofits that work with law breakers to try to keep them out of prison. Restorative justice brings offenders and victims together in an attempt to find ways that offenders can make restitution for their misdeeds. The hope is that both offenders and victims will have more empathy for each other. Recidivism rates tend to be lower in such cases, compared to rates in the traditional court system (PBS, July 20).