The President of the United States continues to chip away at America’s moral foundation via executive order, targeting oppressed communities by eliminating protections and imposing policies fueled by hatred and fear.
As a female Christian seminarian who values love, peace, and justice, the silence of my Christian sisters and brothers about these discriminatory policies is deafening.
This silence is especially troubling in response to the president’s two attempts at a Muslim travel ban aimed at preventing the entrance of human beings from certain (Muslim) countries into the United States. This turns away refugees—women, children, and men—who are fleeing war-torn devastation and leaves them vulnerable to certain death.
Many on the Christian Right argue that President Obama did the same. While it may be true that these are the same countries the former president listed 2011, Linda Qui of Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact points out that the comparison is inaccurate.
Yet, for people of faith, that isn’t quite the point. The president is not Jesus.
Jesus was not a white, American, gun-toting, capitalist man, as much as the Christian Right wants to believe that.
I’m not so sure they’d like what the historical Palestinian Jewish Jesus of Nazareth would say about their response to the president’s policies.
The Christian Right says it is important to arm yourself with as many weapons as possible.
Jesus said, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)
The Christian Right wants to build a wall and close our borders to keep out “the other” (Mexican people, Muslim refugees).
Jesus sought out the other and commanded, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 17:11-19 & Mark 12:31)
When Christians ignore the commandment to love, we let the fear and the violence and the terrorism win. When we are silent about injustice, we affirm that we have no interest in what is just and merciful (Micah 6:8), but only in what is safe and profitable.
In an unjust world, silence is consent. Martin Neimöller, who stood boldly against the Nazi regime during World War II, wrote the now famous “First they…” poem:
If written in America today, perhaps it would read:
They came first for the immigrants, and I did not speak out—because I am not an immigrant.
Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out—because I am a Christian.
Then they came for the African Americans, and I did not speak out—because I am white.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Those who claim to follow the teachings and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth must speak up; they must resist.
Fellow Christians, silence is not our call. Our call—our loving, merciful call—is to do justice, welcome the other, and love them as Jesus did.
Let’s do that.