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The Devil Can Cite Scripture (July 2018)

 Last Rosh Hashanah I gave a sermon that I entitled “The Soul of Our Nation.” It was barely a month after the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville and the abject moral failure of an American president who talked about the “good people” on both sides of that frightening and deplorable event.

As difficult as it is to imagine, since Charlottesville this president and this administration have only sunk further in the depths of their moral depravity. The forced separation of immigrant children from their parents that has been taking place on our southern border will go down as one of the most shameful episodes in American history, along with white treatment of native Americans, slavery, internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II, and the refusal to admit European Jewish refugees fleeing almost certain death from the Nazis.

Our Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, had the unmitigated gall to cite a biblical verse to justify this cruel policy. As Vox points out, that verse from Romans 13 has long been incorrectly used to defend government oppression. William Shakespeare was absolutely right: “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”

The pictures, the videos, and the audio tapes of the children crying; the stories of parents and children being separated by thousands of miles—it’s too much to bear. As Margaret Talbot reported in The New Yorker:

The theatre of cruelty unfolding at the southern border…was the purest distillation yet of what it means to be governed by a President with no moral center. [T]he Trump Administration…forcibly separated children from their parents and detained them in a tent city and in a repurposed Walmart in parched South Texas. Photographs showed children penned in large metal cages and sprawled on concrete floors under plastic blankets. Many were sent on to facilities thousands of miles away. Those under the age of twelve, including babies and toddlers, were discharged to “tender age” shelters, a concept for which the term “Orwellian” does not quite suffice.

Fortunately a federal judge in California issued a halt to family separation and called for the swift reunification of all families. Easier said than done, however.

Thank God there were tens if not hundreds of thousands of protestors of this policy in the streets of hundreds of cities on Saturday! May the protests, and the voices of outrage, continue!

Not surprisingly, religious organizations across the spectrum have condemned our government for this policy. Even several Evangelical leaders, who have consistently turned a blind moral eye to our president and his multitude of sins, have condemned the policy.

Immigration is a complicated dilemma, no question about it. But I know that this is not the way. I thought that America was supposed to alleviate humanitarian disasters, not cause them. This is not the America I believe in.

The cover of the current New Yorker depicts migrant children hiding at the feet of the Statue of Liberty. It only shows the lower half of the statue. If you could see the upper half, you would see the tears streaming down Lady Liberty’s face, heartbroken because of the shattered hearts our cruel and callous “leaders” have caused to thousands of families. Emma Lazarus must be turning over in her grave.

What can you do? In addition to joining any future protests, there are many worthy organizations doing the work of family reunification. One that comes highly recommended to me is RAICES, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Service.

Thu, June 13 2024 7 Sivan 5784