An Open Appeal for Counsel from Faith Leaders Everywhere

Posted on February 27, 2012

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FAMILIA LATINA UNIDA MINISTRIES

An Open Appeal for Counsel from Faith Leaders Everywhere

Dear Pastors,

We are deeply troubled by the invocation of the name of Jesus Christ by politicians who are attacking Latino families by calling for a “hard line” deportation policy.

Romney is out of line even with his own Mormon church. Santorum, however, is doing serious damage to our faith; attacking scripture based Latino churches and hurting families and children with his hypocrisy.

When a politician, who is showing great popularity, calls himself a man of faith and then viciously attacks Latino families as criminals and calls for the immediate deportation of millions of faithful undocumented people, it is more than a political attack, it is a spiritual attack on the faith of these families and the churches they belong to.

It should be abundantly clear that a person cannot accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior and not accept the undocumented and their families, “the least of these my people.” To do this is to defy Christ, not accept Christ!

It is clear that Jesus understood that the hypocritical exclusion of the poor and marginalized from the temple was a spiritual attack that was doing great damage to the people. His healing and driving out of demons was aimed at freeing them from the effects of these vicious and hypocritical attacks in order to restore them to the faith.

Jesus preached and gave his life to assure those who were hypocritically so attacked that God loved them, that God had his hands on them and that, in fact, God chose them to bring the message of the Kingdom into the world.

While there has been a preoccupation with certain “hot button issues” by our faith leaders, there is a deafening and sinful silence when these politicians attack and wound our families, our children and our churches.

We must speak out – and speak out forcefully and quickly.

We have stood together against the hypocrisy of Obama and are forcing him to be accountable to his promises, making what changes he can make through his administrative authority – and yet we have been silent with the likes of Romney and Santarem.

In a way, the liberal church set us up. They proclaimed that the scriptural authority for the treatment of the undocumented rested in the command to “welcome the alien because you were once an alien yourself.” This was a partially applicable and misleading use of scripture. It assumed that the predominantly Anglo and European citizen population of the U.S. was, like the Israelites, the people of God and Latinos coming from the South and the Caribbean were “aliens” and strangers.

This perspective degraded the struggle for legalization as a struggle “petitioning for tolerance” – Instead of a movement fighting for the right to live as God commanded his people to live and a movement that confronts the hypocrisy and racism of the enforcement of the current broken immigration law. In this way,although well intentioned, the perspective  of welcome the stranger weakened our struggle and degraded our people. It permitted reaction of hate and self-righteousness that has caused so much damage. Moreover, I believe it has kept us from confronting with power and with authority the hypocrisy of those who use the name of Jesus Christ to attack our families.

The requirement to “welcome the stranger”was a moral imperative to be charitable, as if the North Americans were without responsibility for the system of undocumented labor. It called on North Americans to be charitable and “forgive” the undocumented workers as if they had no responsibility for the exploitation of workers driven from their own countries by the economic and political policies of this nation. And yet we witnessed workers from our congregations, who slaved at cheap wages, supporting their families here and still sending remittances back home, w suddenly set upon, deported and stripped of everything they had worked for, leaving wives and children in poverty.

This perspective, while it called on North Americans to be charitable, blamed the system of undocumented labor on the most vulnerable and the least culpable – and let the exploiters off in a cloud of self-righteousness. We are reminded of the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35). It is this unchallenged self-righteousness that we see manifested in the hatred directed even at the children of Arizona and Alabama

Moreover, this contextualization of scripture offered nothing to the undocumented and their families, nothing to help them with their faith;, nothing through which they could call out to God to defend and protect them; nothing that would join them together in unity. The greatest danger of hypocrisy is that it strips the protection and the guidance of the faith from its victims

We attempted to bring forth the truth by focusing on the families of mixed status, families with U.S. citizen children or spouses that were being separated by the wicked policy of mass deportations. This put the “family value” posture of the politicians in direct contradiction to their attack on Latino families. Yet that was only touching the surface of the issue.

We were troubled that the democrats chose to focus only on the dream act because they forced young people to condemn their own parents as criminals to set themselves apart. This kind of damage to the souls of young people is wicked and evil. We counseled our young people and sought to bring reconciliation and healing with their parents.

In truth, the presence of millions of families fighting to stay faithfully together in marriage, working hard and raising their children in the ways of the Lord, can only be seen as an offer of redemption to a nation which everyday shows disrespect, dishonor and self-destruction to the family and to the sacred covenant of marriage.

Surely God has blessed these families by making them to be fruitful and multiply – while he has closed the wombs of many of those who want to exclude them. Surely God is swelling the ranks of Latino churches while Anglo churches are dying. The numbers should be seen as a sign from God!

This nation either welcomes this offer of redemption or condemns itself forever.

When God told Jacob to take his family to Egypt because there he would make them a great people, his words apply clearly and directly to those who have come from the south. The “famine” that drives people to make the journey to the north is an economic crisis caused by a combination of U.S. policies like NAFTA and U.S. supported corruption in the governments of the south over the last several decades.

The nation welcomed and used workers who were here without authorization and then turned viciously on them, as Pharaoh turned on the people of God when they increased in numbers. This hypocrisy is a sin against God and his people. In truth, the nation welcomed the workers – but when they married and formed families, the nation grew afraid of the children that were born here. Like Herod, they feared a new “King” was among these children, they feared the “browning” of the nation. They grew fanatical in their frenzy to drive these children out by deporting their parents.

Just as we spoke out against the hypocrisy of Obama, we must now speak out forcefully against the hypocrisy of Romney and Santarem. They are wounding the hearts of the faithful and the tender hearts of our children. They are attacking our churches and our pastors who, week in and week out, seek to bring the message that God is with his people – and that they have a destiny to be a light to the nations.

We recall as well the words of Dr. Martin Luther King. He said that the civil rights movement was working to free the white population from the evil of racism, even while it struggled for the dignity of African Americans. What damage does the self-righteous, racist attack on the Latino and undocumented community do to the faith of Anglo Christians? To reinforce fears that Anglos have of people of color, fears of the blessed fruitfulness of the Latino family, and to promote the arrogance and selfishness of the supremacy of an “Anglo nation” further separates these people from God, It corrupts their faith and humility before their creator. Jesus came to offer salvation from the Judgment of God, even to his oppressors. Our defense of the Latino family offers a road to redemption for those who have mistakenly been seduced by selfishness, hatred and arrogance.

But are we doing what God calls us to do?

We are deeply troubled at our silence and seek your counsel on the most effective way to defend our people and our churches with the truth of our faith.

Some have suggested that we might start with an open letter to Romney and Santarem, a letter that would seek the sign-on of Pastors across the nation. Perhaps this is a good start. As we approach the season in which our Lord and Savior occupied the temple I believe we must take sterner action in defense of our families and our churches.

This is not a political issue. This is an issue of truth in the faith based on our Biblical understanding of what this hypocritical attempt to exclude our families and our churches from the Christian faith does to our people, the wounds and scars it leaves on them.

We see the massive outpouring of indignation by Muslims in Afghanistan against the burnings of the Koran. Are we less willing to defend our faith and our faithful?

When Santarem holds up the wicked Sherriff Arpao, who has demeaned our people and destroyed countless families, and when he holds up the Arizona law of oppression, Santarem is attacking every pastor who has an undocumented family in their congregation.

When Romney holds up the Alabama law and says he will force our people to “self-deport” by denying them gas and electricity and water, by taking away cars and homes they are paying for, by denying their children entrance to schools and by denying them employment, Romney is attacking the families and children of our congregations. We tell the children in our congregation that God loves them, that God is with them always, and that we are with them. In Alabama, children were called to an assembly and told to raise their hands if their parents were not citizens. Then they were told they would be excluded from school. When Romney calls for the Alabama law to become the national policy, how can we let the children see us silent?

The people of God can survive a Republican in the White House, just as we have survived a Democrat. But we cannot survive silence in the face of this hurtful, demonic distortion of the faith and the arrows of hatred aimed at the hearts of the faithful.

Our commitment to freedom of religion does not mean we sit silently by when powerful political leaders, contending for the position of the Presidency, attack our families, our churches and our faith. We have a prophetic responsibility to speak truth to power and a pastoral responsibility to defend the precious faith that sustains our congregations.

 Let us march for Truth in the Faith just as Jesus marched on Jerusalem!

Please, let me know your thoughts.

Yours in Christ Our Lord,

 

Pastor Walter L Coleman        Pastora Emma Lozano

 

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