EDITOR’S NOTE: 11 faith leaders — including Don Golden (RLC Executive Director) and Shane Claiborne (RLC co-founder) — were arrested at the White House yesterday. We offer Shane’s reflection on why these moral witnesses engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience and refused to cooperate with policies that separate families.
Jesus came to us as a refugee, as a child fleeing with his family to Egypt to escape the violent reign of King Herod. It was this Jesus who said in the Gospel of Matthew: “When you welcome the stranger you welcome me, when you do not welcome the stranger you do not welcome me.” For whatever you do to the least of these you, you do unto me.”
America is in trouble. When we rip families apart and put people in cages, we are doing it unto Christ. Christ suffers with those who suffer.
This is why we took action to stand against the policies of this administration and its distorted theology of America First. That is why we continue to stand against our contemporary King Herod who is terrorizing children and families who have already been terrorized enough. We stand against any policies that harm widows and orphans and the most vulnerable among us… because we know that God’s word says this in the book of James: “True religion that God honors as pure and faultless is this… to care for widows and orphans in their distress and to keep ourselves from being corrupted by the world.”
If your religion does not include caring for widows and orphans, and keeping families together… do not call it Christianity.
A love for the people of our own country is a good thing, but love doesn’t stop at borders. Jesus has called us to love beyond borders… beyond our own family or nation or tribe.
Mother Teresa once said that sometimes the problem simply is — that we make the circle we put around our family too small. God’s love is big. America First is too small. I can no more imagine Jesus saying America First as I can imagine him saying Rome First.
Jesus never said “America First” but he did say “The last shall be first.” The Bible does not say “For God so loved America…” It says, “For God so loved the world.” We are to love as big as God loves. And God’s love is higher, and deeper, and broader, and fiercer than we can ever imagine. No wall can hold it back, and no border can confine it… and no jail can lock it up.
The Bible promises that perfect love casteth out fear. And we can see today in America that fear casteth out love. When fear rather than love is compelling our policies, we are all in trouble. We can see throughout history that when policies are driven by fear instead of love, we do terrible things to God’s children. So we are here to say that we will choose love over fear.
And we will not be silent in an age of injustice — in this reign of terror of our contemporary Herod. All that is needed for this current evil to triumph is for good people to stay silent.
Brother Gandhi was right when he said: “Noncooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.” I am proud to stand with other faith leaders who are here to say — we will not cooperate. We will not cooperate with a government that separates mothers from their babies and makes children sleep on cement floors. We will not cooperate with a government that puts immigrant families in cages, and bans Muslims from entering our country. And we invite you to stand up and say with us: I will not cooperate with this administration that is turning the Beatitudes on their head and contradicting nearly every verse of the Sermon on the Mount.