Claim to be faithful Catholics while sending disoriented refugees by plane and bus to other states is a case of “false religion” for the governors of Arizona, Florida and Texas, The residents said the magazine’s founder Jim Wallis during a virtual press briefing with American religious leaders.
“There is nothing loyal, and certainly nothing Catholic, about using people as political props. This stands in contrast to Jesus’ clear teaching to love our neighbor as ourselves,” said Wallis, now director of the Faith Center and holder of the Faith and Justice Chair at the McCourt School of Public Policy in Washington. ‘Georgetown University.
The Sept. 19 briefing was called in response to recent actions by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — all Roman Catholics — who have shipped asylum seekers from states border crossings to other parts of the country. Ducey and Abbot sent them from their states to Washington DC and New York, and DeSantis chartered a plane to fly the asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., as Florida is not a border state.
“I was quite amazed to the profound reaction over the past few days from people in our faith communities to this deplorable political act of putting vulnerable people on buses on planes for political purposes,” Wallis said. “Using vulnerable people as political props is disingenuous. We see false faith in operation here.
Congressional action on immigration reform is needed to address these issues. But contrition from governors would be a start, he said.
“I say to governors: Read your Bible. Read the gospel. Become who you say you are—faithful Christians. You don’t act like that. What happened is a sin that must be repented of. It doesn’t just mean saying you’re sorry. To repent means to turn around and go in a completely different direction.
And a different direction should bring with it a different way of understanding and dealing with immigrants, he said. “The word ‘stranger’ in the Bible means immigrant. And the way we take care of the stranger in Matthew 25 is the way we take care of Christ. It is not a political opposition, it is theological.
Abbott, DeSantis and Ducey did more than ignore scriptural direction on how to treat immigrants, said Sojourners President Adam Russell Taylor.
“These governors are not just turning away (asylum seekers), they are deporting migrants and asylum seekers from places where resources and support systems have been put in place to ensure a fair asylum process. and legal,” he said. “These cruel and cynical political stunts, to score political points and agitate their MAGA base, come at the expense of real children and families whose very dignity…is thus assaulted.”
But Taylor pointed out a silver lining out of the chaos created by the three governors.
“More recently, Governor DeSantis’ doubling down on this indefensible act shows how disconnected he is from our best civic and religious values,” he said. “In stark contrast, the outpouring of compassionate support that churches and many people in Martha’s Vineyard have given to the 50 migrants who landed on their island unexpectedly last week shows the best of our civic and religious values. “
The solution lies beyond the immediate crisis, he added. “We call on these governors to end this immoral antics and we call on Congress and the Biden administration to enact comprehensive immigration reform.”
Abbott’s recent actions, DeSantis and Ducey should be an affront to evangelicals in particular, said Gabriel Salguero, president and founder of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and pastor of The Gathering Place in Orlando, Florida.
“As an evangelical pastor who for decades has worked for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform that honors the image of God in every person, no matter where they come from, we find these cascades of these governors… incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
When reciting Matthew 25, Christians often remember the need to help the hungry, the thirsty and the naked, but forget that “Jesus himself said: … ‘I was a stranger, and you took me in .’ And that is our commitment,” Salguero said.
This is why immigration reform is ultimately not a political issue, he continued. “It’s not a partisan issue. It’s a moral issue. What do we do with people who are seeking asylum, who are trying to improve their lives, who are often fleeing, not only political or economic upheaval, but the very threat of their lives?
Barbara Weinstein, director of the Commission on Social Action for Reform Judaism, called for empathy for immigrants taken to “distant towns” by Abbott, DeSantis and Ducey.
“It is even painful to imagine the circumstances that lead people to flee their home countries and make such a long and dangerous journey in search of safety and security…and upon arrival to seek asylum. , as they are legally allowed to do, they are treated with contempt. They are sent thousands of miles to distant states without a clear explanation and without warning the communities where they will arrive. None of this is at the height of the teaching found in religious traditions.
Governors are not alone to blame, Weinstein said. “The failures of our immigration system are a collective failure. They do not belong to any individual or to any state. And fixing what is wrong with our immigration system is also a collective responsibility.
But Weinstein added that governors must make amends. “Remember, it’s never too late to repent and make amends. It’s never too late to do what’s right.”
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