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children dreams immigration injustice Jesus' Way Uncategorized

“This” Is Who We Are But It’s Not Who We Have To Be

The Flight into Egypt - Matthew 2:13-18
The Flight Into Egypt (Jesus Mafa)

In speaking about the current administration’s interpretation of immigration and border control policies to mean that it is legal and appropriate to separate children from their parents, a woman said to me, “I don’t believe this. This is not who we are.”

I understood what she was saying, but I wholeheartedly disagreed.   This is who America is.  We have been “this” for the entire history of my ancestor’s presence in this country.  American slave holders  separated black children from parents and sold those children off in front of their parent’s eyes for over two centuries.  That’s just an example of who American has been.  Pay attention to the lived experienced of other marginalized people in this country.  They have stories that affirm this is who America is and has been for centuries.

Just because “this” is who America has been does not mean that “this” is what America will always be.  We don’t have to be this way.  America can grow up.

While I appreciate the many right-wing, right leaning and other religious leaders who have condemned this interpretation of policy, for some of them – not all – their condemnations ring hollow.  Some of them hailed the election that brought this president into office.  They championed this  administration’s dismantling of protections and safety nets programs for poor Americans. They were and are silent about this president’s global shenanigans.

Yet all of these issues are fundamentally connected.  You can’t condemn hatred and violence in one place while you ignore it or condone it in another.  You can’t say that separating children from their parents at the borders is “anti-family” while you close your eyes to the harassment experienced by children who speak against American gun policies. You can’t nuance child-harming policies because the real Jesus – the one whose family fled the massacre of children and escaped to Egypt because shoring up King Herod’s insecurities became domestic policy; the one who restored a son’s life to a widow; the one who warned of the consequences of thwarting the lives of children — that Jesus said so.

In a harkening back to the theologies that served to undergird the American institution of slavery, Attorney General Sessions has been quoting Paul. Quite frankly, ain’t nobody asked Paul nothing.  I agree with Howard Thurman’s formerly enslaved grandmother who believed that Paul was not to be consulted on some matters of liberation.  Listen to Jesus.

I’m heartened by the statements from religious leaders. I really am.  It’s something. At least.  More than statements – that the likes of AG Sessions is not reading — what is needed is for religious leaders to gather up the shards of lives scattered about in the wake of the tanks that came before this border evil.  Put your bodies on the line. Educate your members.  (If this is your conviction, put your canons where your mouth is.)  Do something. Or – shut up with your version of useless “thoughts and prayers.”

Some Statements:

“Catholic bishops rebuke Trump’s asylum changes, suggest ‘canonical penalties’

https://religionnews.com/2018/06/13/catholic-bishops-rebuke-trumps-asylum-changes-suggest-policy-is-a-life-issue/

Southern Baptist Convention’s resolution calling for immigration reform that maintains “the priority of family unity:

http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/search/results.asp?query=2018

“Franklin Graham Blasts Trump’s Immigrant Family Separations at Border”:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/franklin-graham-blasts-trump-border_us_5b223db7e4b09d7a3d7a7c16

“AME Church condemns use of scripture by Attorney General Sessions to separate immigrant families”

https://religionnews.com/2018/06/15/press-release-ame-church-condemns-use-of-scripture-by-attorney-general-sessions-to-separate-immigrant-families/

U.S. Interfaith Leaders Urge Government to Keep Families Together:

http://www.ucc.org/news_u_s_interfaith_leaders_urge_government_to_keep_families_together_06072018

And – Attorney General Sessions is a United Methodist.  Here’s a word from his bishops. 

http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/faith-leaders-statement-on-family-separation

The history of America being America:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/05/31/barbaric-americas-cruel-history-of-separating-children-from-their-parents/?utm_term=.57728d696a23

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Carolyn Winfrey Gillette Central America immigration refugee children

The Children Come

The Children Come (By Carolyn Winfrey Gillette)

 FINLANDIA 11.10.11.10.11.10  
 
The children come, not sure where they are going;
Some little ones have seen their siblings die.
They’ve traveled north—a tide that keeps on growing,
A stream of life beneath the desert sky.
Their welcome here?  Detention, overflowing.
O Lord of love, now hear your children’s cry!
 
The children come in search of something better;
They’ve traveled here with nothing in their hands.
On one boy’s belt, a number carved in leather
Leads to a phone, a brother here, a plan.
They come alone—or sometimes band together;
They bring a plea that we will understand.
 
O Christ our Lord, you welcomed in the stranger;
You blessed the children, telling them to stay.
Be in the desert, with the tired and injured;
Be at the border where they are afraid.
Be on each bus where children sense the danger,
As angry crowds are shouting, “Go away!”
 
God, let each one know justice, peace and welcome—
And may your gift of mercy start with me.
For unto such as these belongs your kingdom,
And in each child, it is your face we see.
May we, your church, respond in truth and action,
And with you, Lord, say, “Let them come to me.”
 
Biblical references:  Matthew 25:31-46; 19:14-16
Tune:  Jean Sibelius, 1899.
Text:   Copyright © 2014 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.  All rights reserved
New Hymns:  http://www.carolynshymns.com  Email:  bcgillette@comcast.net
Permission is given for free use of this hymn for local church use by those supporting efforts to help these children and immigration reform now.


http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=b7910336803171dac3b01facd&id=09771f2d54
United Nations officials are pushing for many of the Central American children and families crossing the border to be treated as refugees fleeing armed conflict. 

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/immigration-border-crisis/un-makes-push-border-children-be-called-refugees-n150556