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00refugee2I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25: 43-46 NRSV)

I wasn’t going to post tonight, or well hey, this morning now, but this has just been gnawing at me all day. In fact, I’ve gone back and forth between being bitterly angry and just feeling utter sadness and despair. If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you know that a Muslim man planted a couple of pressure cooker bombs in New York over the weekend. One of them detonated and injured 20 some people. Luckily, nobody was killed and law enforcement was able to take the man into custody Monday morning after a shootout.

Well, one of our political candidates has decided to try to turn this all to his advantage. You know who I mean. Donald Trump Jr posted this, uh, rather hateful and scare mongering image to social media last night:
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Just when I thought that the Trump campaign couldn’t get any more repulsive, they prove me wrong yet again. Let’s take a look at the logic behind this image for a minute. What if Hillary Clinton had posted the same image but switched “Syrian refugee problem” to “Gun owner problem?” What if someone involved with Black Lives Matter put out the same image and switched it to “police officer problem?” I mean, hey, another video surfaced today of a police officer in Oklahoma executing an unarmed black man who had his hands up.  If either of those other circumstances were used, applying the same logic, you’d be able to hear the howl from conservative America all the way across the Atlantic Ocean.

We’d hear things like:
“By far most gun owners are responsible, law abiding citizens.”
“By far most police officers are good people who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.”

Now, I believe both of those statements to be true. Here’s something else that’s true:
“By far most Syrian refugees are good, hard working people who are just trying to save their lives and the lives of their families by fleeing war, terror, and oppression.”

So why don’t they get the same benefit of the doubt that gun owners and police officers do?

The answer is because of fear. We are afraid. Our politicians, particularly, but not limited to, the Republican Party, have a vested interest in making sure we stay afraid. It’s basically a protection racket, except instead of money paid for “protection” the currency we pay is our votes. “Vote for Trump. I’ll keep you safe. I’ll beat ISIS. Trust me.”

I thought we were the “land of the free and the home of the brave?” I mean come on, we got together with our allies and we took down Hitler’s Nazis after they had pretty much conquered mainland Europe. We were the first to put people on the moon. During World War II our entire nation mobilized and quickly ramped up to provide not only soldiers, but to bring all of our resources to bear against those who threatened us. But now, now what are we afraid of?

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Really?

It’s absolutely sickening and heartbreaking that so many Americans would keep these people in the cold out of fear. Seems pretty cowardly. Seems downright unamerican. I guess we should close down the Statue of Liberty.

And many of the folks who are scared and screaming about this call themselves Christians. Now if you think that Donald, “Two Corinthians” Trump is a Christian, then I have some oceanfront property in Southern Utah to sell you. But I’m not talking about him. He’s playing the fiddle of fear and people are dancing to his tune like puppets on a string. I’m talking about those of us who sit snug in our pews every Sunday, recite the creeds, read the Bible, and talk about how much we love Jesus.

Well, look at the verses above from Matthew. Jesus has no time for anyone who will not give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, a roof to a stranger, clothing to the naked, or care to the sick or prisoner.  A couple of verses before that he tells those that didn’t do those things to “depart into the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Hmm, that doesn’t sound like these are mere suggestions or only things that super Christians are supposed to do.

In the face of all this anger, all of this hate, all of this fear, where are the heroes? Where are the Mother Theresas, the Martin Luther King Jrs, the Dietrich Bonhoeffers? Where are the Christians that will stand up for these people instead of being content to be chaplains to our corrupt sociopolitical system?

Let me put it this way: If you’re a Christian and you castigate and refuse to help these people, then I don’t want to hear anymore about your “faith.” It seems like you don’t have much of a clue about what Jesus taught. Welcoming the stranger is a fundamental principle of both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

It is said that we should “be the change we want to see.” I’m going to start with a long, pleading prayer to God both for these poor people and for us. Then I’m going to cast my vote a certain way, but I’m also going to look into some concrete ways to help and advocate for these people. I hope you can move past the fear and join me. If I find anything concrete that we can do, you’ll see it here on the blog.

God bless, and God bless and comfort these refugees as He comforted the Holy Family when they fled to Egypt.

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