Bible Implores Us To Welcome Foreigners, RefugeesÂ
Around the country, millions of Christians gathered to pray this morning. They listened to homilies, sang hymns, read devotional texts, and prayed for the health and safety of our leaders and our world. Countless pastors and preachers undoubtedly spoke from the pulpit on the necessity of President Donald Trumpâ€™s executive order banning refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries.Â
They likely praised Trumpâ€™s action because the order prioritizes members of â€œminority religionsâ€ from those places and grants them special privileges that other refugees donâ€™t enjoy. In practice, the executive order places a higher priority on Christian refugees. Sure, there are adherents to other minority religions who will be affected, but the primary focus is Christians. Â
Iâ€™m not now nor have I ever been a Christian. Iâ€™m pretty sure Iâ€™ve said more than a few times here that Iâ€™m an observant Jew and I often approach the world from that perspective. I have a masterâ€™s degree in Jewish education from one of the best programs at one of the best universities in the world. Iâ€™m most definitely not new to religion, scripture, and theology, and even though Iâ€™m not Christian Iâ€™ve devoted a bit of time to studying it in order to learn more about my friends and neighbors.Â
Considering how much Iâ€™ve studied scripture and theology, Iâ€™m absolutely racking my brain trying to figure out how someone who calls themseves a Christian can support a ban on refugees. I donâ€™t understand how anyone can say that the Bible is the word of God while simultaneously saying theyâ€™re commanded to deny sanctuary to vulnerable refugees. Â
Exodus 22:20 says, â€œDo not persecute and do not oppress the foreigner, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.â€Â It doesnâ€™t get more explicit than a blatant prohibition on persecution and oppression directed at refugees.
Numbers 15:15 tells us that strangers and residents should be treated equally before the law and before God. If we take a step back into the larger context, there are four (four!) different commands that make it clear that the law should be exactly the same for foreigners and residents found in Numbers 15:14-16.Â
Exodus 12:49 makes it even more explicit: â€œThere shall be one law for the citizen and for the foreigner who resides among you.â€ That’s a direct translation.
Exodus 23:9 commands believers not to oppress the foreigner because we know the feelings â€” literally, because we â€œknow the soulâ€ â€” of the foreigner, because we were also foreigners (refugees) in the land of Egypt.
What Christians call the Old Testament â€” and what us Jews just call the Bible â€” is absolutely filled with references to foreigners. Abraham was explicitly called a refugee. The Israelites were refugees from their homeland as they left and went down to Egypt, and in no uncertain terms, Leviticus 19:18 commands us to â€œlove your neighbor as yourself.â€
When discussing Christian theology, many are quick to point out that Jesus negated much of the law contained in the Jewish Bible, and theyâ€™re right. Itâ€™s why Christians donâ€™t observe the dietary laws or many of the other customs that observant Jews follow.
Because of this disparity between Jewish theology and Christian theology, I decided to go a bit farther in my research and look at some of whatâ€™s written in what Chrisians call the New Testament. Hereâ€™s what I found:
In Mark 12:31 Jesus directly quotes Leviticus 19:18 saying, â€œYou shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater.â€ Thatâ€™s pretty clear, huh?
Matthew 25:35-46 warns very explicitly that people who do not feed those who are hungry, clothe the naked, or welcome the stranger will â€œgo away into eternal punishment.â€ (Can you get more clear than the threat of eternal damnation for not welcoming the stranger? I donâ€™t think you can.)
In Romans 12:13, Paul declares that the mark of a true Christian is shown in one who is quick to â€œextend hospitality to strangers.â€ A few verses earlier he warns those listening not to â€œbe conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God â€” what is good and acceptable and perfect. (12:2) He continues, â€œWelcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.â€ (15:7)Â
Hebrews 13:1-2 begs to â€œLet mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angles without knowing it.â€ Who knows what potential weâ€™re denying by refusing to extend a welcome to the vulnerable.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all Biblical sources from either the Hebrew or Christian Bibles that show how strongly believers are commanded to welcome the refugee who is in need. According to the scripture, it is not just a duty but a moral imperative to welcome the stranger.Â
Iâ€™ll certainly be the first to say that religious beliefs should never mix with government policy. Specifically as an religiously observant person, I want the government to stay far, far away from my religious practices and theology. But Iâ€™d also be naive to say there arenâ€™t many, many people who believe their religious positions deserve a place of superiority both within our law and within our government. Many of these folks are consulting and advising President Trump and specifically recommended this executive order. Theyâ€™re also the same people who have made a living by being professional Christians in the Evangelical and other fundamentalist churches have often said that one cannot claim to be a true Christian if they willingly ignore whatâ€™s in Scripture.
So I return to my original question: How can anyone who claims to believe the Bible is the direct word of God support President Trumpâ€™s executive order banning refugees? How can you call yourself a Christian and so blatantly ignore these verses? I honestly donâ€™t understand.Â
Robbie Medwed is an Atlanta-based LGBTQ activist, educator, and writer. Heâ€™s absolutely sick of people using their religion as an excuse to persecute and harm those they dislike. Follow him on Twitter: @rjmedwed
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Madison Cawthorn Retains High-Powered GOP Attorney for Case Seeking to Disqualify Him as an Insurrectionist
U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is facing several six challengers to his seat in the House of Representatives this year. Two Democrats will face off, with one becoming their party’s nominee. Four Republicans are primarying the far-right freshman lawmaker, one of those five will go on to face the Democratic challenger.
But Congressman Cawthorn is facing an even great challenge, and he’s taking it seriously.
A group of attorneys is looking at both the 14 Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and North Carolina law, in an attempt to have him declared an insurrectionist and therefore unfit to serve.
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress,” the 14th Amendment reads, “who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress…shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
The New York Times Tuesday night reports “Mr. Cawthorn, 26, who is in his first term in Congress, has denounced the case as an egregious misreading of the 14th Amendment, but he has retained James Bopp Jr., one of the most prominent conservative campaign lawyers in the country, as counsel.”
Bopp, known as being one of the attorneys who won the democracy-damning Citizens United case at the Supreme Court, flooding American politics with millions (billions?) in dark money. He’s also been a vice-chair of the RNC, and is recognized as a top conservative lawyer.
The Times adds that “North Carolina’s election statute offers challengers a remarkably low bar to question a candidate’s constitutional qualifications for office. Once someone establishes a ‘reasonable suspicion or belief’ that a candidate is not qualified, the burden shifts to the officeseeker to prove otherwise.”
Other Republicans are likely worried, which should have some wondering who’s footing the bill for Bopp.
“If Mr. Cawthorn is labeled an ‘insurrectionist,’ that could have broader ramifications. Other Republican House members, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, face similar accusations, but their state’s election laws present higher hurdles for challenges to their candidate qualifications. If one of their colleagues is disqualified for his role in encouraging the rioters, those hurdles might become easier to clear.”
Read the entire Times report here.
Chasten Buttigieg Slams Florida GOP’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill for ‘Pushing LGBTQ Families Back Into the Closet’
Former school teacher Chasten Buttigieg is slamming Florida legislation dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would ban discussion of LGBTQ issues in public schools under the guise of “parental rights,” saying it will “kill kids.”
Appearing on CNN Buttigieg asked, “what kind of country we’re building, or in Florida, what kind of state are you building where you’re essentially pushing kids back into the closet, you’re saying we can’t talk about you? We can’t even talk about your families.”
“And you know, as a kid who grew up for 18 years, being told, ‘you don’t belong, something about you is wrong.’ Sometimes you take that trauma to heart and unfortunately there are a lot of kids in this country who do the worst because we tell them, ‘something about you is twisted and you don’t belong here.'”
Buttigieg railed against the bill over the weekend, posting a tweet pointing to a Trevor Project study that he says found “42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year.”
This will kill kids, @RonDeSantisFL. You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in. In a national survey (@TrevorProject), 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year. Now they can’t talk to their teachers? https://t.co/VtfFLPlsn3
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) January 20, 2022
The bill, sponsored by freshman Republican state Rep. Joe Harding, in part reads: “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”
Buttigieg, who is married to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, said, “if kids come into the classroom Monday morning, and they’re all talking about their weekends, and hypothetically a kid like mine says, ‘I had the best weekend with my dad. We went to the zoo, we went and got ice cream,’ is the teacher supposed to say, ‘hey, we don’t talk about things like that in this classroom’? You know, and not only what does that do to kids like mine, but also do to a kid in the classroom [who is] starting to realize that they’re different.”
JUST NOW: “”What kind of state are you building where you’re essentially pushing kids back into the closet and saying we can’t talk about you? … [Kids] take that trauma to heart.”@Chasten on what is being called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in FL.pic.twitter.com/M1Qiz9Zt9f
— John Berman (@JohnBerman) January 25, 2022
Image by Pete for America via Flickr
Psaki Schools Doocy on Trump’s Infamous Twitter Tantrums After He Whines About ‘Hashtag’ Diplomacy
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question from Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy on Tuesday by reminding him that former President Donald Trump had a history of conducting diplomacy through tantrums on Twitter.
At a White House press briefing, Doocy asked why Secretary of State Antony Blinken had expressed support for Ukraine on Twitter with the hashtag “#IStandWithUkraine.”
“Has that ever worked in stopping an authoritarian regime from doing anything, a hashtag?” Doocy wondered.
“I will have to say that, unlike the last administration, we don’t think Twitter is the only means of engaging or negotiating or discussing important topics,” Psaki replied. “But it is important for us to convey to the Ukrainian people who do view commentary through a range of forums.”
Watch the video below from Fox News.
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