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Posts Tagged ‘Christians’

I apologize for my extreme negligence in posting. I’ve been struggling with health issues.

I am aware that I am probably incredibly liberal when it comes to Immigration. While I’m all for controlling who comes in, so that criminals, terrorists, and drugs are kept out of our country, I wish that we let in more people who wanted to come into our country to work and learn.

My feelings are biased by personal history. My family came here in the early twentieth century. We came during the massive waves of immigration from the turn of the century, during a time when, aside from the nauseating voyage to get here, if you could afford a ticket and you weren’t obviously ill, you probably were let in. During that time my great-grandparents, my great-aunts and uncles, my great-great-aunts and uncles, my great-great-grandparents, cousins…everyone, one by one, family by family, packed up their things and headed for a strange country because they wanted a better life, economically and politically. There was racism and hostility towards immigrants then too, but we were let in. Since that time, my family has worked hard, gotten degrees, served in the military…I like to think that we have contributed to our American society in our small way. I believe that the people who want to immigrate today want the same thing for them and their children. My family was given an opportunity and I feel that I am in no position to deny other families the same opportunity.

Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of children sitting in detention centers on the border, having endured far worse things than most of our ancestors did to be here, dehydration, exhaustion, and sexual and physical abuse. Right now, there are ethnic and religious minorities in places like Iraq that are fleeing persecution by groups like ISIS. This includes our Christian brothers and sisters. For any of you who don’t know, in places like Mosul, Christians were told they could either convert, pay a tax for their faith, flee with nothing but the clothes on their backs, or die.

I believe, that if any of those people want a chance here, we should give it to them. I think that our country has always been a nation of immigrants and for many years we operated under the approach that if you wanted to be part of our club, our American experiment, we’d let you have a shot, a chance to practice your religious beliefs in peace and to work your way up the ladder.

I understand the practical and political difficulties with this approach, I really do, but for me, this is a moral issue.

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus says: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angers. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They will also answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” Mathew 25: 34-45

I believe that this verse is extremely clear and for immigrants and refugees, they are the stranger that we are meant to invite in. To turn them away, it is as if we turned away Jesus, our savior, himself. It would be a sin. As Christians, our moral obligations do not stop at our borders or to be people with the same nationality, religion, or skin color as ourselves. We have an obligation to any people of the world who look to us as a haven, a place that has more opportunities and is safer than their home countries. For whatever we have not done for the least of these, we have not done for our God.

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Religious Tolerance in Egyptian Protests

Disclaimer: This is not my photo. I downloaded this from a friend’s wall who had shared it from their friend’s wall. The photo was public.  My main source of information was the caption beneath this picture.  While I have not verified this, I have no reason to believe it’s not legitimate.

This photo was reportedly taken from the protests that were taking place in Egypt, where police crackdowns were also occurring.  This is a picture of Muslims at the protest performing daily prayers, and Christians holding hands around them to protect the Muslims from the police violence while they wee praying. 

I think this is a powerful photo.  With all people’s talk about the violence and divisiveness that pervades the Middle East, I think this photo underscores a poweful message.  If this photo speaks to the future of the Middle East, then there is abundant cause for hope.  It nearly brought tears to my eyes with happiness. 

I will admit that later, I experienced a bit of sadness when I thought about the poem, realizing that in many places in the United States, where we claim to be so open-minded and accepting as opposed to the rest of the world, I am not sure that this have happened, that many Christian Americans would have been so ready to protect Muslim Americans, and I pray in the future that may change and that we may take a lesson from this photo. 

We must protect and care for one another, no matter of what faith.  What binds us together can be stronger than what divides.  As Jesus has said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, we must protect others’ rights to worship, as we want ours to be.  And most importantly:  we are all Children of God.

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If I understand correctly, the term “values voter” was first coined with the reelection of George Bush in 2004.  An exit poll asked voters what was their most important issue, among issues like the Iraq War, the economy, and healthcare was a choice of “moral values”.  Around 22% of the people chose moral values, and around 80% of those people voted for George Bush.  Implicit in this flawed poll was the assumption that the economy and the Iraq war were not choices based on moral values, as opposed to issues like abortion or gay marriage (it is worth noting that a later poll, which asked people to choose which moral values issue was most important to them, drastically more people chose the economy or Iraq over abortion or gay marriage).

However this came about, “values voter” has come to be associated with “conservative Christian”.  Values issues have a very narrow circle in people’s mind: abortion, gay marriage, contraception, stem cell research, et cetera.  A recent values voter summit was basically synonymous with “conservative/Republican values voter summit”.  Much of America, including the media, has accepted that “values voter” means “Religious Right Christian”.

I think it’s time to change that.

I’m a liberal Christian, and just because I plan on voting for Obama in November doesn’t mean I don’t have values.  Gay marriage is one of my values’ issues, but it’s because my values teach me that all people should receive equal treatment under the law and that families that are bound together by love should be celebrated and are an asset to this country, doesn’t matter the gender of the parents.  Foreign policy is a values issue for me because I believe that before all else God wants us to live in peace with one another and for each person to be able to live with dignity, human rights is a values issue.  The economy is a values issue, how is it right to treat people?  What should we be spending our money on?  Do I want someone who’s going to spend my tax dollars on the military budget or on social programs to help fight policy?  Both those choices reflect values (for more on values and the budget, please see my earlier post, “Budgets as Values”).  My stances on the issues are influenced by my values, which might be different from the values that the person next to me has and that will reflect in their politics.  Liberals are values voters too, even if they have different values.

There is no limit, no special set, for what are values issues.  A values issue is any political issue where your opinion comes from your values, and almost all of our opinions have some root in our values, whether we think about it consciously or not.  I’m a values voter, because I vote based on my values, even if those values are different from the Religious Right.  To say that only the Religious Right Christians are values voters is to imply that the rest of America doesn’t have values (which I’m sure a number of conservative Christians do believe).  We do, they might be different from yours, or have a slightly different perspective, but they’re still values and they still matter.  It’s time that everyone’s values are given equal credence in the public debate and that people admit that values voters aren’t just conservatives.

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