Cries of anguish from our southern border have broken the heart of America. Children have been ripped from the arms of their parents and housed in separate facilities, sometimes hundreds of miles apart. Some are locked in cage-like structures, left to comfort one another in their shared misery.
I wish I could say this evil practice is un-American, but I can’t.
This administration’s recent policy of zero tolerance has brought back horrific national memories of Black babies ripped from the arms of their mothers and sold in slave markets. Or nightmare remembrances of Native American children stolen from their parents in order to be acculturated as White.
This manufacturing of orphans has once again become governmental policy, and even though an Executive Order finally ended the policy, the practical reality is that these orphans may never find their way back to their parents. Their cries continue.
In response, cries of protest have arisen from every state across this land: Families Belong Together.
Many people of faith were offended and spoke out against Attorney General Sessions’ foolish biblical justification construed from the Bible. This passage from Romans 13 has been cited by law and order folks countless times as a way to support the status quo and condemn protest. But these cherry-pickers seem to forget that the man who wrote those words to the church in Rome was executed by that very Roman government because of his insistence that Jesus is Lord and the king is not. Because of his teachings that Jesus’ kingdom will dethrone any earthly power that stands in opposition to God’s reign of justice. The apostle Paul himself (even as he wrote those words) exemplified peaceful protest and resistance to state-sanctioned injustice. He died for his beliefs.
If Bible-quoters want to use Scripture to justify their civil policies, they would do well to heed ALL the Bible’s witness.
The Old Testament book of Deuteronomy gives some especially clear instructions to God’s ancient people that still make sense today:
They were commanded to tithe (a kind of income tax) in order to provide for the widows, orphans and aliens among them.
They were expected to leave some wheat in the fields and olives on the trees and grapes on the vine as a way to allow the widows, orphans and aliens to work the harvest and provide for themselves.
And then this startling statement: “Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice.” All the people shall say, “Amen!”
It is the teachings of Deuteronomy that reminded God’s people how they too had been strangers and aliens in the land of Egypt, therefore they had special obligation to treat the aliens among them with respect and compassion.
Israel’s prayer book, the Psalms, understands the Lord God as One who watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The prophets of Israel spoke truth to power when they challenged the injustices of their kings and leaders:
Thus says the Lord: Act with justice and righteousness, and…do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow…
The New Testament letter of James is where we find this clear statement:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress…
There is NO justification for policies that separate families and manufacture orphans. Even the argument that there has been a crisis of illegal immigration at our southern border is a manufactured crisis.
Every American should be raising voices in concert with the cries of the children. Our nation may have a sordid history, but we have power to break those evil cycles and live into a future that more authentically reflects our American values.
Every person of faith should be moved with righteous anger at the current injustice. We should be crying out against this inhumanity. It is to our shame that too many of us have played it safe and remained silent in the face of evil throughout this nation’s history. We cannot remain silent now.
And in particular, I say to every person who sees them self as Evangelical Christian: America MUST hear from you because just maybe our political leaders will hear your cries even if they ignore the cries of the children.
Those of you who believe you are pro-family and pro-life, this is a chance for you to live out your beliefs in positive, influential ways. You send your mission teams to Honduras and Guatemala and Mexico; you know these people. You say you love them with Christ’s own love, so let America hear your cries of compassion for these brokenhearted orphans and their broken families.
Manufacturing orphans is not about right or left. Rather this is about right and wrong. Let’s do what is right, America.
The second photo has become an iconic image of the current crisis at our southern border. Credit goes to John Moore and Getty Images.
The third image has become another icon created by artist Justin Teodoro. Find his Facebook page here.