As we are grappling with the human cost of our country’s policies on immigration and the treatment of children in this system, I have felt such a mixture of emotions. Outrage, disgust, concern, compassion, fear, conviction, pride have all flooded my mind, consciousness and heart this week. I have become increasingly aware of how strong and fragile our moral compasses are as a nation and as Christians in the face of difficult economic, legal, political, and ethical challenges.
On Tuesday, Sarah Knowles Sweeney and I stood with Mayor Sylvester Turner as he denounced the federal plan to locate a detention center in Houston for children who have been separated from their families stemming from the Administration’s zero tolerance policy. The painful irony of convening on Juneteenth to address a detention center on Emancipation Avenue was not lost on our public and religious leaders who came to protest this plan.
It is easy to feel powerless in the face of these dilemmas. Issues, which have been long standing, are now coming to a head. What are we to do as individuals and as faith communities in the face of such massive suffering and division?
This Sunday’s reading from the Hebrew Scriptures recounts the story of the boy David confronting the giant of the Philistines, Goliath. There appears no way that the outnumbered and pitiful troops of Israel can confront the raw power and cunning of the Philistines, who do not share Israel’s moral life.
David eschews the proffered armor of Saul and instead uses the tools he knows…a slingshot and five stones. Confident in his anointing and in God’s presence, David stands up and is victorious. Of course, there are icky bits in the text….references to the uncircumcised nature of the Philistines, war crimes, death, and violence. These are realities of power and politics, which must be acknowledged, as in our current situation at the border. But what I find compelling about this text is the recognition that knowing ourselves, our history, our values, and God’s abiding love while standing strong in the face of moral enemies brings the defeat of evil. Good comes when people of faith stand strong.
Our Church and our neighbors are reaching out to make a difference in the lives of these families and in the moral life of our nation. Below are some ways you may chose to respond.
Some ways you may choose to respond:
· Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative: www.houstonimmigration.org/how-to-help-family-separation-edition
· From the Texas Tribune: www.texastribune.org/2018/06/18/heres-list-organizations-are-mobilizing-help-separated-immigrant-child
· Vigil June 28th in Brownsville: https://www.aclutx.org/es/node/2850
· Vigil at 419 Emancipation: There is a 24/7 vigil watch at 419. Ordained ministers, lay people and folks of all spiritual backgrounds are welcome. The Dominican Family, a group of people here, is currently organizing it in Houston that work in community with the Dominican Sisters, but they are looking for collaborators to help schedule shifts and manage the project. You can sign up here https://goo.gl/forms/QJdnIsuvNhwMWvR62
· Also, of interest: https://rac.org/interfaith-clergy-visit-detention-center-mcallen-texas-urge-end-separation-families
Many of you are wondering how to connect with each other, especially on issues such as this one. I heartily recommend the Faith Leaders Coalition. Visit: www.faithleaderscoalition.org Email:contact@faithleaderscoalition.