Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Family Separation - A Personal Statement

I need to comment on the family separation policy that is currently playing out at our southern border. Despite a so-called presidential directive thousands of families have been broken apart and young children have been warehoused across the nation. This is simply intolerable and disgusting.  On this we should all agree and I find it stunning and simply amazing that there are those who continue to defend this practice.  This practice is indefensible.  This is not a democrat vs. republican, liberal vs. conservative issue.  We are talking about the welfare of thousands of children and the integrity of refugee families. There is no “agree to disagree” here.

But yet the excuses and lame defenses continue. All of the ones I have seen have several things in common: they consisted of simplistic statements or were repetitions of out right lies and not only they were given in a self-righteous and sometimes hostile manner. One gets the sense that these apologists for crimes against humanity have simply stopped thinking for themselves and are just going through the motions of regurgitating what they have read or heard. I don’t know why they bother because they sound foolish and downright ridiculous given the seriousness of the issue. We are talking about the lives of children and families.

In my studies of ancient (and modern) paganism one of the most profound things I have learned is the focus on action. "You are what you do."  How you act in the world, how you relate to others, how you treat others, how you work towards the greater good (or not) defines who you are and your character as a human being.  In fact the ancient rites that were undertaken as part of the Eleusinian Mysteries were all about assessing one’s actions and relationships and behavior within the context of the community and recommitting oneself to work for the benefit of the community.

Those of us who claim the be Christian need to recognize that this emphasis on doing is really not so far removed from a Biblical understanding of faith. In the Bible – in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament – faith is not about what you think, or your attitude about God or Jesus, or your “personal relationship with Jesus,” or even about believing you will go to heaven when you die. Faith is about how you act in the world, how you relate to others, how your treat others, how you contribute to the community.  If you “believe,” if you trust in God, if you confess the name of Jesus then it needs to be reflected in how you act and how you treat others and how you live in this world.  Medieval Scholasticism and Enlightenment Pietism has internalized the concept of faith and personalized Christianity to the point where many, many seem to think that the beginning and end of their religious commitment is all about my relationship with Jesus and that nothing else matters.  Sorry, that is a cop out and is completely unbiblical. Faith is about what you do, not what you think or how you feel!

And ripping children from the arms of their parents is not representative of any faith that I know of. It is an act of hate and violence that is must be condemned. In fact hate of all kinds is not acceptable. Hate is born of fear and it all stems from a selfish focus on me and mine! As people of faith (used in the broadest sense of the word) I believe that we must reject this hate and fear in no uncertain terms and embrace love and acceptance, especially of those who are different from us.  

So – to those who are perpetuating this crime against humanity – either as active participants or cheerleaders: I don’t want to hear your excuses, and your half-truths and your lies. You need to look at yourself seriously and re-examine your values and your so-called faith.  If your faith permits the destruction of families and the abuse of children then we do not share the same faith, because the faith I look to is one of love and acceptance and a celebration of human diversity.