I have nothing to say about how to run a global military superpower. I do not have a political science degree. I am not an elected official. I am not a Republican or a Democrat.
I am trying to become a Christian. I’m not one yet because I understand that to mean “little Christ”, a title which I am certain I will never become in its fullness.
So in a time in American history when we swear in a leader using the Bible and when a majority of Evangelical Christians express their excitement to have a “man of God” in the oval office, I get concerned. Especially after the absolute shit show of executive orders he has pissed out in a matter of days.
This “temporary ban” which is directed at Muslim countries (and which conspicuously leaves off Saudi Arabia, a fact which if lost on you means you don’t know enough to have an opinion on this) is an absolute horror.
For me, I sit bewildered that we seem to have little internal conflict around claiming to be a Christian nation (a truth claim I reject wholesale) and turning away refugees as a way to “protect ourselves”.
Franklin Graham, son of America’s most famous evangelist came to the defense of the ban saying that immigration is not a “biblical issue”.
Confused, I consulted one of the way too many Bibles I own. Without much effort I came across some contrary evidence that Frank may have missed.
Isaiah 1:13-17 Yahweh: Stop bringing meaningless offerings!….Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies…. learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
Proverbs 29:7 “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”
Deuteronomy 10:19 “…you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants”
Leviticus 19:34a You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself…
Ezekiel 34:4“The diseased and weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the hurt and crippled you have not bandaged, those gone astray you have not brought back, and the lost you have not sought to find… Therefore I am against you..!”
I’m wondering how these were missed. These are just some of the verses that specifically address immigrants and foreigners. Open the search just a little for mention of the poor and the vulnerable and you’ll be up to your eyeballs in cries for justice and mercy.
Some might say, “well that’s just the Old Testament”, which I would remind them is a Testament Franklin likes to use verses from to remind the LGBT+ community that they are an abomination to God.
But that’s for another blog. 🙂
What about the New Testament? What about the words of Jesus?
Matthew 25:35-40 “‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’”
Matthew 22:37-40 “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Romans 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
1 John 4:20 If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen.
I’m afraid we are simply repeating our history of cherry picking verses that keep us in power and our enemies or the “others” at a safe distance.
Make no mistake, people will die because of this.
And I’ll remind you that I’m not making suggestions about how to run a global military superpower. This might be a great idea for a wealthy nation to protect its interests. I’m just saying it’s not the way of Jesus. And we need to stop smearing his name on all our bullshit.
In Nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa, and right here in the USA during slavery and segregation, the majority of churches complied with the power system in the systemic oppression and murder of vulnerable groups. And the silence coming from many corners of the church world today makes my heart sink.
The fact that many Evangelical leaders aren’t speaking out about this fear based xenophobic protectivism and are in many cases, defending it, just shows that Evangelicalism has become little more than the religious arm of the Empire. Baptizing it’s violence greed and xenophobia in the sacred language of the state.
The prophetic tradition of speaking truth to power is gone. What’s left is protecting it’s privilege and avoiding controversy.
Those churches obsessed with end-times prophesy may actually be right… These are the end times for a brand of Christianity that forgot it roots, abandoned it’s founder, and prostituted it’s allegiance.
Jesus Christ…the Middle Eastern refugee, hung tortured as an enemy of the Empire because he refused to bow to the unholy alliance of religious power and state sponsored violence against the poor, the marginalized, the sick, prisoner, naked, stranger, and the powerless …never asked to be worshiped, only followed. You can take up his cross, or swing Caesars sword. Who is your master?
**** I gave a full length sermon on this topic you can watch here.