MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN | 7/8/2018, 12:49 a.m.
Children’s Defense Fund
The past week saw a new level of evil and political degradation at the American border with the unbearable images of crying children being taken away from their desperate parents and locked up in “tender age shelters” and warehouses, with some even kept in cages. For many people of faith, the suggestion that the God of the Scriptures would somehow endorse the Trump administration’s callous cruelty toward children and immigrant families is literally beyond belief. The Hebrew Scriptures stress over and over the importance of welcoming the stranger since we were once strangers ourselves.
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry ... (Exodus 22:21-25)
You shall not follow a majority in wrongdoing; when you bear witness in a lawsuit, you shall not side with the majority so as to pervert justice … You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:2 and 23:9)
When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33)
In the New Testament, when Jesus was asked about the law, he taught that the ultimate guiding principle and commandment is love.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
In the book of Romans, the passage that immediately precedes one quoted recently by Attorney General Jeff Sessions describes the marks of a true person of faith – including “extend[ing] hospitality to strangers” (Romans 12:13). And the following chapter emphasizes that the commandment to love one another supersedes any other:
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)
Every person who knows right from wrong has a responsibility to speak out right now and teach President Trump a lesson about human decency. Never forget the words of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel:
I remember he asked his father, “Can this be true? This is the 20th century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?”