Sanctuary

When should the law bend to a higher moral authority? Was it 1860 when, slaves escaping to freedom in the North were required to be apprehended and returned as property to their legal owners?

Was it in the 1960s when blacks were beaten and arrested for sitting at an all-white lunch counter when that was against the law.

Is it now, when Attorney General Sessions and other Republicans call for defunding cities that provide sanctuary to the undocumented and those fleeing death squads, drug dealers, and hunger?

Most Americans can recognize injustice such as defining some people as only property or less God’s children than themselves. Northerners knew that returning runaway slaves to the lash was wrong even though the Supreme court at the time said it was required. They provided sanctuary, the law notwithstanding. Later they knew segregation was wrong. Today, most Americans know deporting millions of our neighbors is wrong.

Both the Old and New Testament speak to how strangers should be welcomed; how God would want us to treat “the least among us”. True Christians know that it’s not to turn them away or pass them by.

Today, offering sanctuary to our friends, neighbors, and co-workers who have lived among us for decades is as morally right as was offering sanctuary to slaves fleeing for their lives a hundred and fifty years ago, as it was to challenge legal segregation in the 1960s. It is consistent with the words on our national symbol, the Statute of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,…Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

We should never bow down to the enforcement of laws that have no humanity.

Laws built on the sand of mindless cruelty like sending away children who know no other home or offering them the Sofie’s choice of staying on the condition their parents and non-citizen siblings be deported.

The Republican agenda of cleansing America of those without papers may be legal but it is morally reprehensible. It should be opposed by every citizen who believes in justice and humanity.

Jerry Scribner     Easter 2018

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