taking the words of Jesus seriously

People of the United States of America who call themselves Christians, it is time to look–behold. Do not look away in trivializing or undermining the lives of the people who are being crushed under the weight of American empire. 

What if we rewrite the Bible for our own time. Remember the parable that Jesus told about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector? What might that story sound like today? 

The Bible-educated Jesus follower prays:

“Thank you God for this Great Country! Thank you that I am not like these law-breakers that are running for their lives. If I were running for my life I would do it in a legal way. I would stand in the right line and not steal or break any laws. I respect the laws of this country. I am not like these DACA kids, or even worse their parents who brought them here illegally. I go to church, Bible study, and I have my daily devotionals and I pay my tithe.”

But the poor immigrant prayed at a distance and would not look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’  

And then the expert in the law saw the brown-skinned immigrant praying and suspected that he was in the country illegally and reported him to ICE. ICE came into the church, handcuffed the immigrant and detained him because that is the law. In the detention center, the immigrant was sexually abused, beaten and fed food that was rotten. He was taken before a judge, shackled like he was a violent threat. Humiliated before the judge, he was read his rights, without any legal counsel and ordered to return to his home country. In the process of returning he caught COVID and was returned to those that would take his life because of his Christian faith.

If this parable sounds ridiculous then consider this story unfolding in Maryland this month.  Binsar Siahaan lived on church grounds and volunteered to care for the property. We see before us a man who has lived in the US since 1989. He was awaiting his court date. One morning as this man was preparing for the day, ICE  came onto church property.  In a devious maneuver, ICE coaxed Binsar Siahaan out of his home acting as if they were there to help him. 

ICE knew this and came in plain clothes in order to trick him, telling him he needed to check his ankle tracker. He was lured out and handcuffed. He was transported to Georgia; he faces trial on October 2, 2020. Not only was he detained unjustly, ICE put his life at risk by moving him during a pandemic. Additionally the cruel move to Georgia puts greater distance between Binsar and his family. Is it just that ICE continues to hunt human beings in these safe locations? Churches, schools, courts, and hospitals are places where people should be free to seek care and education, both physically and spiritually. 

READ: Writing a New History of Immigrant and Racial Justice

Citizens of this country, behold this man and the many other humans unprotected by a piece of paper. We often hear, “But they broke the law.” or “ICE is just doing their job.”  This dismissiveness breeds ignorance and apathy. Who holds these enforcers of the law accountable?  The enforcers of the law use lies to enact punitive measures to “uphold” the law. If we accept injustice to enact justice what kind of society are we creating? Christians who call themselves “Pro-Life” must examine and ask themselves who is worthy of human flourishing? Are we really okay with children in cages? People left in rooms in freezing conditions? Are we ok with medical professionals performing illegal hysterectomies or separating children from their families? Like Pilate, are we okay with just washing our hands, calling it a day, and allowing the Empire to enact a distorted justice?

If you are not okay with this, then join us. Join the movement of people asking for the freedom of Binsar and humane treatment to the foreigner and children who should be with their families.  We are destroying families. We are creating orphans and widows, which we are called to care and protect.  We may very well be sending this father and Christ-like servant to suffering. In his home country of Indonesia he is not safe because of his faith. Additionally, the safety of our places of worship are being threatened.  Shall we be silent?

Join us and apply Binsar’s voice this Thursday. We are meeting at Christ United Methodist Church (900 4th St SW, Washington, DC 20024) on Thursday October 1, 2020 at 8:30 AM. You can follow details at the Free Binsar Faith March to ICE HQ. You can sign online petitions here: Faith Leaders’ Petition, Faithful America Petition,  and United Methodist Petition.

You can also call 1-844-332-636 to connect with your federal legislator.  To assist you, a script is below:

Hi my name is _____________ and I am calling from ______________.  I want [Member of Congress]  to call ICE Director Tony Pham, and express outrage at ICE’s violation of their sensitive location policy, and demand Binsar’s immediate release and approval of his stay of removal.

To get connected to your member of Congress enter your zip code.

To call more than one Member of Congress, please complete your first call and then call back to hotline above. 

Let our faith move us to action.  

About The Author


Pastor Julio Hernández is the Director of Family Ministries at Christ Crossman United Methodist. He is also on the steering committee for the Congregation Action Network.

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