For slain Baton Rouge officer Montrell Jackson, 'it was God, family and police force'

First, Dallas.

Now, Baton Rouge.

After yet another massacre of police officers, some of the most chilling words came from one of the slain Louisiana officers, Montrell Jackson — in a Facebook post he wrote earlier this month:

Jackson's mention of both God and prayer immediately made me wonder if he might be a man of faith.

That certainly appears to be the case, based on this quote from an Associated Press story:

Kedrick Pitts, the 24-year-old younger half brother of Jackson, said he was very close to his older brother.
"With him it was God, family and the police force," Pitts said outside his mother's house in Baton Rouge, where family was gathered Sunday. "He went above and beyond ... He was a protector."

Other stories hint at the faith of Jackson's extended family.

From the Washington Post:

Joycelyn Jackson was already sitting in church when she found herself needing God most. She hadn’t yet learned that her little brother Montrell Jackson was among the three officers killed in Baton Rouge when her pastor asked the congregation to send prayers to her family.
“I didn’t want to break down in church but it was just something I couldn’t hold,” Jackson, 49, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, said. “He was a wonderful person. A wonderful person.”
Joycelyn Jackson said she understands the anger behind the movement Black Lives Matter but that “God gives nobody the right to kill and take another person’s life.” Montrell Jackson, 32, was married in the last few years and had a baby boy he adored, she said.
“It’s coming to the point where no lives matter,” she said, “whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or whatever.”

There are definitely some powerful quotes there with a strong emphasis on religion.

And the Post ends that story with another such quote:

If she could talk to the shooter, or anyone considering violence against more officers, she said she’d remind them of a judgment beyond the penal system.
“If I could say anything to anyone, it is to get their lives right with God,” she said. “Hell is a horrible, horrible place to be.”

But neither the AP story nor the Post one digs at all below the surface on the faith angle. We don't learn where the sister attends church or what her — or her brother's — specific religious background is.

Unless there's a reason for withholding the name of the church (for example, to protect relatives), I would think that information would be helpful to readers' overall understanding. As would learning more about the officer's faith background and beliefs. And I'd love to hear, too, from a pastor or other leader at the sister's and/or officer's church.

At the same time, I don't know the circumstances of the interviews that reporters had with the grieving officer's loved ones. Right after a person has lost a loved one is a time for a reporter to listen and be sensitive, not a time to press, in my humble opinion (and as someone who spent weeks covering victims' families after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing).

In the case of the Baton Rouge officer, I am hopeful that we'll learn more specific details about his faith and relationship with God in the days to come.

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