So many of us are deeply wounded by Trump’s immigration policies and what they reflect about our less welcoming, more calloused new national norm.
Many have marveled at the citing of sacred texts to support even the most heinous of thoughts and acts. Others still have struggled to understand the mind and heart that could do such damage to holy writ. And people of faith take unique exception to the mangling of words that bind them to God.
And so, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions doubled down on rooting an immigration policy of family separation in the holy justification of biblical texts, faith communities across the ideological spectrum united in opposition to a perversion that defied even our most jaded expectations for this administration’s chutzpah.
The outrage goes beyond the gall of employing a text as cover for a policy that embodies the very inverse of its meaning, or omitting the myriad expressions of compassion and welcome that represent the fullness of the Bible.
All are welcome to join a procession starting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral (1245 10th Ave. E., Seattle) to St. James Roman Catholic Cathedral (804 Ninth Ave.). “As people of faith, we stand in solidarity with all the migrants and asylum-seekers who come to our borders, fleeing violence or simply seeking a better life for their families. We protest the inhumane separation of children from their parents.”
The verse was notoriously used to justify unqualified obedience to governments that profited from slavery and apartheid. And Sessions twisted the verse further to cynically leverage the suffering of children to extort congressional foes into voting for President Donald Trump’s pet project, the wall.
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Many have spoken out and written well in debunking a use of verse so torn from context as to become denuded of meaning, wielded more as cudgel than wisdom. We faith leaders feel this torturing of text more keenly. The challenge of interpreting ancient words for modern needs can be daunting. But to deliberately subvert divinely inspired ideas to absolve the inhumanity of imprisoning children, or to glean political advantage to enact even more draconian measures against the most vulnerable, crosses some kind of unseen line, rallying the faithful to affirm the true intent of Scripture and to call “B.S.” on this rank exploitation of faith.
So many of us are deeply wounded by these policies and what they reflect about our less welcoming, more calloused new national norm. And while the promise of November waves of azure brings some comfort for ultimate remedy, and there is some relief in the Deporter-in-Chief’s recent retreat from worst-possible practices, his willingness to embrace this tactic in the first place reveals a wanton disregard for human life and well-being that has come to define his tenure, and will surely emerge again from the depths of his dystopian worldview.
The direct plea of a sizable constituency to legislators who pull the purse strings on policy will bring change, and their support of House Bill 3923, The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, would provide a potent response. Knowing that this president is driven more by popular acclaim than abiding principle, a sustained campaign across many demographics can weigh heavily on a pliable presidential will.
Locally, we will join together in faith, strength and pursuit of common cause at 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. We will march as we’ve done so many times before, making our way to St. James Cathedral on First Hill for a candlelight vigil. There will be words and prayers. And though “thoughts and prayers” have lately accrued a salutatory stink as excuses for inaction, those whose faith is made real in impactful acts rather than empty words are found more readily within houses of worship than halls of power.
And act we will — from our places of prayer, study and community, to our homes and neighborhoods, our ballot boxes and political offices, as we reclaim our country and our national soul, if necessary, one policy at a time.