Category Archives: Family

Separating Immigrant Families is un-Christian!

How can anyone look at pictures of their own children and think separating immigrant families is right?

In the wake of news about separating immigrant families at the U.S./Mexico border in recent weeks, the silence from Trump’s evangelical advisory board as children are being ripped from their parents’ arms has been deafening.  Pastors have a Christian duty to hold Jeff Sessions and his boss to account, especially in the wake of Sessions’ claim that Romans 13 supports such abject cruelty.

In fairness, some conservative religious leaders are speaking out.  Franklin Graham, surprisingly, said in an interview last week with the Christian Broadcasting Network, “I think it’s disgraceful; it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit.” However, he rendered his criticism impotent in the next breath by saying he still supports Trump and blaming politicians of the last 20 to 30 years for creating the mess that has led to the current policy.

Many religious leaders, politicians, journalists, and ordinary citizens have raised the alarm about the plight of these families in recent days.  But if we’ve learned anything in the past 18 months, it’s that Trump cares not one iota for the opinions of those who consistently disagree with him and criticize him.

This is precisely the thing that gives Trump’s evangelical advisory board the power and responsibility to challenge him in a way that most of us cannot.  Having helped catapult him into office, they have open access to him.  He cannot be re-elected without them and the flocks they shepherd into the voting booths.

According to a New York Times article early this year, the Rev. Johnnie Moore estimates that he’s made dozens of visits to the White House since Trump took office.  Moore says, “This White House, the front door is open to evangelicals.  It hasn’t been evangelicals reaching into the White House. It’s been the White House reaching out to evangelicals. Not a day goes by when there aren’t a dozen evangelical leaders in the White House for something.”

While these pastors can make a rational argument for supporting Trump’s policies on issues such as abortion, there is no sound argument to justify the mistreatment of parents and children to, as Sessions said, send a message that, “If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them. We’ve got to get this message out.”

Some of these pastors have doctorates from noted theological seminaries.  They surely know that this policy blasphemes everything Jesus stood for.  They surely know that the portion of scripture Sessions used from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans is a twisted interpretation taken out of context.  And if they’ve been listening, they must know that this same text was used during the Civil War to justify slavery and during the Civil Rights Movement to rationalize denying the rights of African-Americans.

This morning more than 600 ministers and laity of the United Methodist Church, of which Jeff Sessions is a member, wrote a letter to his church in Mobile, Alabama, and the church he attends in Alexandria, Virginia, filing a formal complaint for his actions.  The complaint says that while many in the administration are causing harm, they feel compelled to challenge his thinking because, “He is ours, and we are his.”

So why are the pastors who most have Donald Trump’s ear failing to do the same?

If you are one of the pastors on Trump’s advisory board, you must know that Christ said this about our responsibility to challenge other Christians’ thinking:

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive.” (Luke 17: 1-3)

In recent days defenders of the children at the border have interpreted this text as Jesus saying it would be better to have a stone tied around your neck and be drowned than to harm a child.  However, read in context, this passage is an even more serious charge to disciples to challenge the thinking of other disciples who have stumbled and lost their way.

As far as we can tell, none of the advisory board members have rebuked anyone in the Trump administration who has twisted the Word in support of misguided initiatives.  If they cannot speak up to Trump and his disciples when families are being torn apart and children will likely suffer permanent damage, then when?

If you are a member of a church led by one of the pastors on Trump’s advisory board, then you, too, are a disciple who is responsible for calling out your pastors and the Trump administration.

And for those of us who are members of other Christian churches, we are not exempt from Christ’s call.  All of us should be bombarding the advisory board and rebuking the offenders.

We can’t gain access to all of them, but many of them do have a presence on social media.  Here are some of them who have pages on Facebook and Twitter:

Johnnie Moore: https://www.facebook.com/JohnnieMooreLU@JohnnieM

Tim Clinton: https://www.facebook.com/drtimclinton/@DrTimClinton

Robert Jeffress: https://www.facebook.com/drjeffress/@robertjeffress

Darrell Scott: https://www.facebook.com/darrell.scott.399@PastorDScott

Samuel Rodriguez: https://www.facebook.com/pastorsamuelrodriguezjr/@rev_rodriguez

Paula White: https://www.facebook.com/realpaulawhite/@Paula_White

Franklin Graham: https://www.facebook.com/FranklinGraham/@Franklin_Graham

Gloria Copeland: https://www.facebook.com/GloriaCopelandKCM/@CopelandNetwork

I plan to take time today to contact each of these pastors and to respectfully challenge them not to be a millstone around the neck of Christianity.  If you have a presence on social media, I urge you to do the same.  Please take the time to respectfully call on these pastors to do what is right.  Much access has been given to them, and because of that, much is expected of them.

They can do what the average Christian cannot—have a face-to-face conversation with the man in the Oval Office when he stumbles and strays.  If they do not rebuke him now, then when?  What cruelty will it take in the name of Christ for them to live up to the responsibility of their calling?

Right now they seem to be aiding and abetting an administration that has openly said it is trying to put the fear of God into those who might cross the border illegally.

I fear there is little we can do to put the fear of God into the advisory board.  But if they do not join the chorus of Christians and citizens who are decrying the destruction of families, then they must answer to the God they’ve taught their flocks to fear.

Letting Go of a Beloved Dog

Something is missing from my writing today. The barrage of daily news still motivates me to open up my laptop. The flames in the fireplace still match the heat of my anger at the headlines in the newspaper. The snow outside my window still reminds me that it’s a good day to stay indoors and write. The cup on the coffee table still fuels me with the caffeine that sharpens my thoughts.

But when I reach for the cup, the difference is clear. No more will I feel the nudge of a cool nose against my fingers insisting I remember to live in the present and not just in the future promise of words at my fingertips.

Our dog Beckley and I had a writing ritual. Continue reading Letting Go of a Beloved Dog

A Tribute to President Obama

An official photo of the First Family by Pete Souza at whitehouse.gov

Of all the things President Obama has done in service to our country, I am most grateful for the model he has been as a husband and a father. Whatever part of his legacy is dismantled by the incoming administration, they cannot take that away from us. He has been a stellar example of what it means to be a good man.

Of all the things he said last night in his farewell address, his tribute to his family will linger in my mind for years to come: Continue reading A Tribute to President Obama

When Our Bustling Democracy Fails Us

bustle

The bustle just didn’t work the way it was supposed to. Eleven days after the most disheartening election of my lifetime, all I wanted to do was to forget for a few hours that democracy hadn’t worked the way I thought it was supposed to either. I wanted to focus fully on the joy of my daughter and her fiancé as they exchanged marriage vows. I wanted the celebration to be perfect.

But the bustle didn’t work. Continue reading When Our Bustling Democracy Fails Us

Love in the Time of Politics

new-familyA funny thing happened on the way to my daughter’s wedding. Well…we haven’t actually gotten there yet. The wedding isn’t until next weekend. But in the four years since she met her fiancé, they have changed the way I view the world.

Born to a Republican father who essentially got to vote twice because he told my mother how to vote, I revolted. I registered as a Democrat as soon as I turned eighteen, though I didn’t tell my father, a man who laughingly informed me that before he would give my husband his blessing, the man would have to sign a paper promising to vote Republican. When Nixon resigned in disgrace a few months after I registered to vote, I became convinced that Republicans represented all that was wrong with the world. Continue reading Love in the Time of Politics

Courageous Conversations about Race and Poverty?

I Voted

“Why do you keep trying to reason with those people?” It is a question I’m asked repeatedly by my liberal friends on social media when I attempt to engage in a discussion with relatives and childhood friends who support Donald Trump.

Why? Because I believe that well-meaning liberals who dismiss the concerns of poor whites and call them ignorant might as well be the warm-up act for the next Trump rally. Our refusal to acknowledge their concerns has helped set the tone for Trump’s stage appearances.

Continue reading Courageous Conversations about Race and Poverty?

Would Christ Turn Marriage Upside-Down?

RingsGeorgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, and now Oklahoma. Christianity is under assault. But not in the way that the conservatives in these states who’ve introduced discriminatory laws would say it is. Like the Pharisees Jesus condemned, these Christians stand in the marketplace and loudly proclaim their objections to the actions of those whose behavior is far more Christ-like. Their hypocrisy in the name of religion should be obvious to anyone who seeks to follow Christ’s example.

If Christianity means being Christ-like, then it is under assault. And it is up to those of us who desire to live as Christ lived to show the courage of Christ and call out such hypocrisy just as he did. Continue reading Would Christ Turn Marriage Upside-Down?

Who’s to Blame When Children Fail?

Siblings 1If we ever decide as a nation that none of us have all the answers, my siblings and I could be the poster children for the complexities of educating America’s youth. Born to a father who quit school in fifth grade and a mother who quit school in ninth grade, my sister and I were the first of our paternal grandparents’ 52 grandchildren to graduate from college. Like many parents today, my parents fervently wanted us to have the education they didn’t have, but they had no idea how to make that happen. Continue reading Who’s to Blame When Children Fail?

Want the Best Teachers?

Ash & Mrs. Hacker

For a moment I was brimming with hope. In a rare occurrence, an article about education made the top headline in the online version of the Washington Post homepage today. This was a particularly striking event in light of other significant news this week—the Benghazi hearings, Hurricane Patricia, the death of an American serviceman in a fight against ISIS.

Continue reading Want the Best Teachers?

He is Heavy. But He’s My Brother.

Sibs--not used yetThree strikes and he’s out. Jailed three times on charges related to his heroin addiction, he has struggled to stay clean and get back into the game for ten months now. He has done a handyman’s work for a landlord in exchange for a room in one of the properties and a few dollars to buy necessities.

He has sought work as an electrician’s helper, a trade learned in his high school vocational classes. But with a prison record and few skills in literacy, he has been unable to find a job. After his release, he often sacrificed food to be able to afford a cell phone, a necessity before any potential employer could call him back. He walked four miles to stand in line in hopes of getting jobs as a day worker. He lost his driver’s license and can’t afford to pay the fines to regain even a provisional driver’s license. Continue reading He is Heavy. But He’s My Brother.