On Welcoming the Stranger

Greetings in Christ,


At one time you could see printed under a help wanted sign: “Irish Need Not Apply”. This could have meant for my ancestor, Eve Shaddock, that she would not be allowed to work in the United States. My friend from seminary days, Glenn Nagashima, a fifth generation American, had in his family history the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. During World War I, German Americans were not allowed to worship in German as it was considered disloyal to the nation.


I am not sure how much you have heard about children who are illegally entering the country with their families are being treated. It appears that many are separated from their parents, who have been arrested for entering the country illegally, and are being housed separately.


I do not know all of the facts of the matter. I do not know if this is being applied to all families or if the separation is long or short. I do not know which administration of our government instituted this policy.


I do know that the firestorm that this has created online and in the media is intense. There are at times circumstances where removing children from a dangerous situation is warranted. I do not know anyone in law enforcement who likes the idea of separating children from their families, but they do so when the safety of the children is paramount.


Then there are times when those who make the laws overstep what is good and decent and create situations where more harm than good is done. Automatically separating children from their families as a practice mandated by law without due process is wrong.


If this is the policy of our government, then it does not follow Jesus. Far more troubling is the use of Scripture by some in the government to justify what appears to be an unfair practice. Scripture is to be used to lead people to our Lord and not to give legitimacy to an unjust law.


We are a nation of immigrants. Nearly every one of us has come from some other place to this country. We have always found a way to welcome the immigrant. We have not always accomplished this perfectly, but we have found a way.


I pray that we continue to find a way to welcome the stranger that is just and fair to everyone.