In answering the question "Who is my neighbor?" by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37 NRSV), Jesus formulated a new question, to whom are we a neighbor? In this parable the neighbor was the victim of crime.
Many people become victims of crime. Victims and their families suffer shock and a sense of helplessness. In addition to financial loss, there is a spiritual and emotional trauma and often a lack of support and direction. Many victims feel frustrated because there often seems to be no provision for them to be heard. Their injuries are not redressed, and they are not always notified of the court procedures. This is an area where the church has an opportunity to be a neighbor and to minister with the victims. We often assume victims and offenders are two separate groups of people. It has been noted that offenders are often victims as well. A focus on prevention will break this cycle.
Therefore, we call upon the members of The United Methodist Church to minister with the victims and to be advocates for them. We also call upon the General Conference:
(1) to direct the General Board of Church and Society to work for the recognition of the needs and rights of victims and survivors of crime;
(2) to support laws at both the federal and state levels whereby offenders make restitution to their crime victims, to work for restorative justice and for the adoption of laws where there are no such provisions;
(3) to recognize that the constitutional rights of the victim must be provided. Victims of crime or their lawful representatives, including the next of kin of homicide victims, are entitled to be kept informed during criminal proceedings, to be present at the trial, and to be heard at the sentencing hearing as well as to be given an opportunity to make an impact statement at the time of the parole consideration;
(4) to encourage seminaries to develop continuing education programs on this subject;
(5) to direct the General Board of Discipleship to develop guidelines, programs, and study materials for pastors and others in providing spiritual support and understanding for victims and families; and
(6) to urge all members of The United Methodist Church to initiate prayers, presence, and support for victims and survivors as well as strategies to bring about necessary changes in the criminal justice system and to assure and advocate for the fair treatment of victims and survivors.
AMENDED AND READOPTED 2000
See Social Principles, ¶ 164F.
From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church — 2004. Copyright © 2004 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.