Category Archives: Justice

We Went to Topeka

Jenny and I just got back from Topeka. We went for a prayer vigil for separated families hosted by Kansas Interfaith Action. There were considerably fewer prayers and more press than we expected, but we feel better for having gone. It’s frustrating to see children suffering and not be able to do anything about it.

As a side note, that’s why we didn’t invite or encourage any of you to go with us. We didn’t know what to expect. When we invite you to something, we want to do everything we can to ensure that it’s a good experience.

Evil Being Done in Our Name

I’m sorry for bringing it up, but sometimes I experience a deep, burning, fire-in-my-bones need to be on the record about an issue (see Jeremiah 20:9).

The Trump administration has released a 68-page report on international human trafficking. This report stated, “Removal of a child from the family should only be considered as a temporary, last resort.” [1] At the same time children as young as three years of age are being forced to appear in immigration court by themselves, without their parents. Not only are the children there without their parents, according to NBC, “They are not entitled to an attorney but rather are given a list of legal services organizations that might help them.” [2] How does a three-year-old make use of a list of legal services organizations? How do we expect justice to be done when there is no one present to advocate for the child? How do we expect them to make their case when they are not yet old enough to comprehend the dangers that prompted their parents to take them and flee? This is wrong. This is insane. This is evil and it’s being done in our name. There may not be much we can do, but we must do that much. I urge you to call and/or write your representatives.

P.S. According to other reports I heard, this occasionally happened under previous administrations. It was wrong then, and that doesn’t make it right now. Taking a wrong practice and making it far more common, does not make it right.


[1] Noah Bierman, “Ivanka Trump Helps Unveil Administration Report That Decries the Effect of Separating Children from Parents,” Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2018, accessed June 29, 2018, https://lat.ms/2NbOfUP.

[2] Christina Jewett and Shefali Luthra, “Toddlers Are Having to Appear in Border Courts All Alone,” NBCNews.com, June 28, 2018, accessed June 29, 2018, https://nbcnews.to/2KATUWo.

Beyond Left and Right to Right and Wrong

Speaking on the topic of the separation of families seeing sanctuary in the United States, Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) said, “I think it’s disgraceful, it’s terrible, to see families ripped apart, and I don’t support that one bit.” [1] Graham supported Trump’s presidential bid; he is a “conservative evangelical” and not a “liberal” or a “progressive.” Fortunately, some issues still transcend our political and theological divides, and the separation of children from their parents is one of them. The executive order Trump signed appears to be on a collision course with previous judicial readings and the children already taken from their parents remain apart from them. Please continue to pray and act that God’s will might be done.


[1] Joe Marusak, “Franklin Graham Rips Separating Kids and Parents at Border: ‘It’s Disgraceful.’,” The Charlotte Observer, June 14, 2018, accessed June 22, 2018, http://bit.ly/2yABoZg.

Of Aid for Immigrants and Romans 13

Yesterday, a parishioner asked Jenny and me if there was a United Methodist Organization working with the refugees and asylum seekers who are being detained and separated from their children. Indeed there is, please see the link below.

On the related issue of the interpretation of Romans 13, which has been cited to defend the current administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, I’ll just follow the lead of another pastor and point out that the man who wrote Romans 13 was executed by the state for his steadfast refusal to submit to the governing authorities when doing so was in conflict with his obedience to Christ.

Link: http://njfon.org/donate/

Is the U.S. Losing Our Heart and Soul?

According to an article in The Kansas City Star: “Immigration officials arrested Syed Ahmed Jamal in his Lawrence front yard on Jan. 24 while he was taking his daughter to school.” Jamal first came to the U.S. to study at Kansas University in 1987, he has three children who are U.S. citizens, and has “taught chemistry as an adjunct professor for several area colleges.” He faces persecution and possibly death if he is returned to Bangladesh.

I know that this is happening to countless individuals and families all over the country, but this case is hitting me particularly hard. Not only is this deportation un-Christian, it is against our self-interest. What kind of country are we becoming? If you feel differently and this post angers you, don’t hesitate to let me know. But be sure and let me know why in a carefully reasoned dissent. I would be almost relieved to hear a coherent case being made for this course of action. It might allow me to sleep better at night.


Link: http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article198215114.html

Rick Montgomery, “Kansas Chemistry Instructor Arrested by ICE While Taking His Daughter to School,” The Kansas City Star, February 2, 2018, accessed February 03, 2018, http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article198215114.html.

A Response to the Shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas

I suspect that this will not be a popular post, but some things have to be said.

Like many of you, I’m tired of responding to shootings with “thoughts and prayers,” but that’s the best option I have available, especially if it prompts us to put pressure on our elected representatives.

I’ve heard some talk of we need more people going to church armed, but I don’t think that’s the solution. Given that this Church was in Texas, I’m fairly sure that at least one person in attendance was armed, and it didn’t do any good. Furthermore, even if someone was armed and managed to respond, that would just mean more shots being fired and more innocent bystanders coming to harm. Just because someone has a concealed carry permit doesn’t mean they have the training to respond to a shooter. And then when the police arrive they have no way of knowing the difference between the “good guy with a gun” and the “bad guy with a gun.” And in addition to that, we have the example of Jesus’s own rebuke of the sword drawn in his defense.

I think instead it might be beneficial to recover the model of the Christian martyr. Christ called us to take up our cross and follow him. Our faith is worth dying for and dying in the act of worship certainly counts as dying for the faith. Some early Christians were so taken by the idea of martyrdom that the early church had to declare that martyrdom was not to be actively sought. I agree with that, but there are far worse ways to go than being shot in the act of worship. Those who died in the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church died for their faith and for that I honor them. That will be of little solace to their families and close friends, but it is all I have to offer.


Note: I’ve never had an issue with law enforcement officers coming to church armed (especially when they are on duty).

We Must Not Remain Neutral in the Face of Injustice

If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has his foot on the tail of the mouse, and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. — Bishop Desmond Tutu [1]

This truth is why the ancient Hebrew prophets were also so quick to denounce injustice and why we must do likewise.


[1] Robert McAfee Brown, Unexpected News: Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984), 19.

Two More Things to Pray for this Morning

Two concerns to add to your prayer list this morning:

  1. The mass shooting in Las Vegas. Pray for the victims and their families. Pray that we as a nation might find the political will to make this mass shooting the last.
  2. Congress has allowed “the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has reduced the uninsured rate among kids to 5% from 14% over the two decades of its existence” to expire. Pray for the children. [1]

[1] Lesley, Bruce. “Congress Just Blew a Chance to save Healthcare for 9 Million Children.” Los Angeles Times. Accessed October 02, 2017. http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-chip-funding-20170929-story.html.