A few days ago, I had written about the conflict between the immigration ban placed by President Trump and one of the fundamental values of our country–the value that we welcome the poor, weak, and down-trodden, a value etched into a 225 ton statue in New York Harbor. The ban also is in direct conflict with the Christian values upon which our country was founded.
While we are a nation built of many people and creeds, our President places his hand on the Bible (or in Trump’s case, two Bibles) when being sworn into office and, to date, our presidents have all been ate least nominally Christian men.
When I am gladdened to see the up-swell of support from many Christians who find the ban on immigration and refugees unconstitutional and unchristian, I am also seeing a number of Christians online citing examples of refugees or immigrants who have committed crimes as a justification for the restrictions.
In my earlier blog post One Nation Under What I cited statistics showing that immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, but rather than discussing statistics, I’d like to discuss where it says that it should be easy and safe to be Christian? At what point when we state that we believe in God and in Jesus Christ, do we get to place any caveats on his teachings about love?
Jesus preaches radical love for all: for enemies, for our neighbors, for God and for him. When he was betrayed by Judas, he simply went calmly to his fate. When someone asked him how many times he should forgive someone who wronged him, Jesus said as many times as is necessary. Jesus preached to turn the other cheek and to love our neighbors as ourselves. One of the most famous verses in the Bible states that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son” John 3:16. God was willing to sacrifice his only child out of love for us, a world of sinful people.
With the Bible’s foundation of radical love and Jesus’ sacrifce, where do we find Jesus stating that we should only love those who are good to us? Those who love us back? Those who have the means to repay us for our kindnesses? Where does Jesus promise that life will be easy if we follow his teachings or that everyone who comes in contact with radical love will change for the better?
God promises none of these things; his only promise is that he loves us enough to promise us eternal life if we follow him.
So to those who post examples of crime committed by refugees or immigrants, what does this mean to us as Christians? Does it mean what we are permitted to turn our backs and to justify the deaths of thousands of people who have nowhere else to go by closing our borders? Does it allow us to paint an entire religion as “bad” because of the actions of a few? Does it allow us to add an “except” to the mandate to love our neighbors?
It is not easy to be Christian. It is not easy to love a neighbor as yourself or to forgive someone who has wronged you. I cannot pretend to be able to do these things perfectly either, but I am willing to try and to give others who need our help the benefit of the doubt. The best any of us can do is to try.
As a mother, an American, a wife, and a Christian, I am not willing to turn my back on a tide of people where 99.99% have done me no harm to penalize 0.01% who have or may in the future.
I will fight for the safety of my family and my country every day, but when a policy is founded on hatred and misunderstanding and will serve to drive people towards the very radicals against which the government purports to defend us, I will chose the path of radical love every time. It is my duty as a human being and as a Christian.