Faith Leaders Urge Prayer in Trayvon Martin Case

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Thousands of protesters are putting pressure on Florida law enforcement officials, demanding an arrest in the death of Trayvon Martin.

The black teenager was shot and killed Feb. 26 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman holds that he acted in self-defense.  Now, the case has fueled a fiery debate over racial stereotypes, and a state law that allows people to defend themselves with deadly force.

Join the discussion on the CBN News Facebook page about the Trayvon Martin case and how Christians should respond.

Churches Unite

Several congregations across the nation hung up their suits for Sunday services over the weekend -- and instead donned hoodies in honor of Martin.

"I'd just like to say that we really thank them, that we appreciate all of their support. It means a lot to us," Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother, told supporters.

The hoodie demonstrations are part of the uproar over the 17-year-old's untimely death.

"I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen," President Barack Obama said last week. "You know, if I had a son he'd look like Trayvon."

Touchy Topics

At the heart of the matter are some sensitive issues: race, gun rights and self-defense laws.

Zimmerman told a 911 dispatcher that Martin was "up to no good," then proceeded to follow the teen.  The two eventually got into into a scuffle.

If Martin did in fact start the fight, Zimmerman had every right to protect himself under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

"I think when the other 911 tapes are released and when the other evidence comes out, it will show clearly that George Zimmerman was acting in self-defense," said Craig Sonner, Zimmerman's legal advisor.

But, others say that's not the whole story.

"'Stand your ground' means stand your ground. It doesn't mean chase after somebody who's turned their back," said former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.

Unraveling the Details

While rallies continued on Sunday, a Florida TV station reported that a new, secret witness says he saw Zimmerman being attacked by Martin.

A male voice can be heard screaming in the background of one of the 911 calls made by several neighbors the night of the shooting.  Still, authorities are not sure if it's the voice of Zimmerman or Martin.

What police do know is that Zimmerman ignored the 911 dispatcher's instructions that he not follow Martin.

"Are you following him?" the dispatcher asked.

"Yes," Zimmerman replied.

"Ok, we don't need you to do that," the dispatcher told him.

Regent University law professor David Velloney says that's enough to throw out the "Stand Your Ground" law in this case.

"If he was following him in somewhat of a menacing manner and he violently, or aggressively approached the teenager, then he becomes the initial aggressor in this situation and really then he loses that right to self-defense," Velloney told CBN News.

On Public Trial?

But Zimmerman's friends say the media is making him the villain -- and that he is neither a racist, nor someone who would shoot a person without cause.

"After this first started the reports I got was that he could not stop crying," Zimmerman's friend, Joe Oliver, told ABC News.

"It just became a tragic perfect storm where there's a loss of a young man's life, and now another man has already been tried and convicted by public opinion," a neighbor -- who has Zimmerman to thank for stopping a break-in at his home -- also told CNN.

In the meantime, Martin's family plans to file a civil lawsuit against the homeowners' association.  A grand jury will meet April 10 to consider whether to bring state charges.

Prayer for Justice

As the nation continues to rise up against what many are calling social injustice, some in the faith community are urging patience and prayer.

"I would just certainly extend my prayers that there'd be some measure of peace for him, but I think ultimately I'd hope and trust that justice would prevail in all of this," said Rev. Derrick Harkins, senior pastor of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

Well-known megachurch pastor and author Bishop T.D. Jakes urged the church to "cry out for justice" in this case. 

"Justice doesn't alienate anyone. It is truth," he told CBN News.  "It is consistent with Scriptures that we investigate, and that we support the defense for all human life."

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Charlene Israel and Cicely Gosier

Charlene Israel and Cicely Gosier

CBN News

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