Families Belong Together
Like all of you, I am shocked at what our nation has been doing along our southern border. Putting children in cages is so grim that it conjures up images of what the Nazis did to the Jews and Americans did to Japanese Americans, including infants, in World War II internment camps.
The simplest definition of sin is separation. Actions that separate us from God and from each other are sinful. The forced separation of families at the border is sinful.
A child should never be a negotiating tool. Imagine having your beloved son or daughter ripped from your arms and taken out of your sight with no indication or when or if you will see him or her again. Even prisoners are reunited with their families upon release from prison.
Those often fleeing starvation, murder, drug wars, sexual violence and corrupt governments illegally entering the United States, however, they receive a misdemeanor and are imprisoned for 24 hours but are not reunited with their children. It is an absurd, disgraceful and traumatic policy doled out to children often too young to enter a preschool. Who could have thought this up?
The foundation of our faith is that God so loved us that he came to us in the form of a helpless child. Herod ordered all children ages two and younger to be killed. The Holy Family had to flee Herod and enter Egypt in order to ensure Jesus’ safety. They were refugees!
What if the Egyptians had separated Jesus from his parents at the border? What if they put our Lord in a cage? What if Jesus’ parents lost their ability to reunite with their son, a fear that more than 2,000 parents now face due to the actions of our government?
We are facing a choice as a nation to heed the Herod’s of our time or to follow to voice of our better angels. Pulling nursing children away from their mothers is evil. Telling parents that their child is being taken for a bath and not returning him or her is evil.
Wednesday was National Refugee Day. The Church called us to stop and do something to act on behalf of the 68 million refugees around the world. Our nation’s intervention in Iraq unleashed millions of refugees on Europe. Refugees are often fleeing for their lives, and how do we react?
The “Zero Tolerance” policy is a “Zero Morality” policy. It’s a choice. It’s not the law. Thankfully, churches, church leaders and millions of Americans have spoken up and demanded that our country act with compassion and care and respect the dignity of every human being.
To label people fleeing from horrific situations as “rapists,” and “murderers” who are “infesting” our nation is deplorable and unacceptable leadership and speech. This is not a partisan political issue, but a vital concern that the Bible clearly addresses.
Our Attorney General quoted from Romans 13:1-2 to justify our government’s actions: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
This is an abominable misuse of the Bible. The Nazis used this same scripture to justify their actions. Slaveholders used it. Segregationists used it. Proponents of Apartheid in South Africa used it. In the same chapter, St. Paul declares that love is the ultimate law.
Ripping children out of their parent’s arms doesn’t look like love to me. Indeed, the United Methodist Church is making efforts to censure a member of their own church – our Attorney General – for failing to respect the dignity of fellow human beings.
Here’s what the Bible says about dealing with refugees:
Deuteronomy 10:18-19 tells us, “For the Lord you God… loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Later, we read, “Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien… of justice.” (Deut. 27:19) The prophet Isaiah admonishes us, “Be a refuge to the outcasts of Moab.” (Is. 16:4) And Jeremiah adds, “If you do not oppress the alien… then I will dwell with you in this place.” (Jer. 7:5-7)
In the New Testament we read, “…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matt. 25:31-46) St. Paul writes to the church in Rome saying, “Mark of the true Christian; …extend hospitality to strangers.” We instead are separating families and caging children like animals. Horrific!
We are the richest and most powerful nation in the world. So, why are we acting like one of the cruelest? Is it for fear that outsiders will imperil of economic security? Do we as a superpower need to make a mother and her infant cower in order to feel secure as a nation?
Border issues are challenging. We can debate immigration policies and border controls, but not what constitutes severe child abuse and family trauma.
I fear that we are witnessing a moral collapse in leadership that is pulling our nation and free world down. Yesterday’s major Spanish newspaper El Pais referred to the “fascist” actions being taken by our President and government. Is that how we wish the world to view us?
Our Gospel this Sunday speaks about Jesus being awakened during a storm on the Sea of Galilee that threatening to sink the boat that the disciples and he are on. We are in a storm. The Church must wake up. We must work to calm the waters and exercise moral leadership.
Here are some things that each of us can do:
- Click HERE to see what you can do regarding family separation, resources for educating yourself and others on immigration processes, and statements from church leaders.
- Write Congress to stop family separation and defend access to asylum! If you’ve already reached out, get in touch with 5 friends now and encourage them to speak out too.
- Engage on Social Media with #KeepFamiliesTogether
- Share educational resources and the action alert from the Episcopal Public Policy Network (@TheEPPN)
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joins other faith leaders in a statement on family separation at our borders
Reclaiming Jesus: “Suffer Little Children: The separation of immigrant children from their parents is not biblical” and Reclaiming Jesus video.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s AM Joy appearance Topic: “Sessions misuses bible to justify separating children from migrant parents”
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell Topic: “Religious leaders: Call Trump’s family separation for what it is – sin”
We must take action now! To do nothing is to be culpable of supporting separation, sin and evil.
Walking with you and our sisters and brothers around the world in the footsteps of Jesus,