When faith requires protest l Worship

By Rev. David W Parks, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church | Jul 25, 2018

Top leaders from a variety of American faith communities gathered last month. Together, they condemned recent executive orders that led to the separation of children from their families at the U.S. southern border.

Muslims, Methodists, Jews, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Moravians and others joined the Lutheran Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton, in drafting a letter calling for an end to the so-called “Zero Tolerance” policies that are cruel and harmful to children and their parents.

Since then, executive orders have changed, but their consequences remain the same: people fleeing their countries of origin to what they hoped would be safety and a fair hearing for asylum are, instead, being treated like criminals.

In defense of these policies, those in power use dehumanizing rhetoric. They say, “hunt them down” and “infestation” to create the impression that people are animals or insects and need to be treated as such. History teaches that dehumanizing language is a prelude to violence.

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them.” Matthew 19.14

People of faith and conscience all over America are raising their voices in an urgent appeal to those in power to have a change in policy and a change in heart.  Religious leaders, demonstrators, elected office holders and citizens of our country have all said “no” to the cynical, feckless and xenophobic spirit and intention of leaders in our Nation’s capital.

Deep in the bones of my own religious tradition is an imperative toward care for the stranger and justice for the vulnerable.  My own family story goes back to those who braved hostility, crossed borders and found promise in a land I now call home.

My own congregation is planning to open its arms to a refugee family.  They have done this before. In the wake of the Soviet construction of a dividing wall in Berlin, we took in those who fled. As the Vietnam War came to an end, we embraced another family. The time is right again to take this stand and welcome others with open arms.

The Hebrew Bible recalls the Prophet’s words from a long time ago.

“…cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.”
Isaiah 1.17

This is one of those times in our history that requires people of faith and good conscience to take Isaiah to heart.

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