Throughout the pages of scripture, Old Testament and New, you will find dozens of verses admonishing people of faith to welcome and care for strangers, especially immigrants and refugees. Take Leviticus 19:34:
“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
And, of course, we can’t forget that Jesus himself was a refugee for the first few years of his life. So when he says in Matthew 25:40 “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” we should take that verse quite literally on the topic of immigration.
This week, President Trump signed an executive order suspending America’s refugee program and barring travel from several nations. Among myriad other unjust consequences, this executive order erected a legal barrier to thousands of desperate people around the world seeking safe harbor in the United States. Even people who have already waited through years of vetting. Even people who were on planes to the United States when the order was signed.
Each year, tens of thousands of people from around the world come to the United States as refugees. These are people fleeing their homes because of terrorism, war, genocide, and natural disaster. When the United States closes its doors to these people, thousands will have no option but to return to their unsafe homes, were many of them will suffer and die.
Thankfully, many people are speaking out against the president’s executive action. This includes thousands of faith leaders, including the leaders of our denomination. Sadly, however, many Christians approve of our nation’s decision to turn our backs on the world’s most vulnerable people. In fact, it’s safe to say that nearly every one of our nation’s leaders who supports the president’s executive order identify as Christians.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matt. 5:13). Nothing says “salt that’s lost its saltiness” quite like church folks that don’t stand up for immigrants and refugees. There are few topics about which scripture speaks with such frequency, consistency, force, and clarity.
But it’s not enough just to talk about this issue. Yes, we should voice our outrage and reach out to our civic leaders to demand action. But we all also have to make the decision right now, including me, to make the drastic changes required in our personal lives to truly articulate a posture of welcome to immigrants and refugees. We have to open our congregations, our communities, and our own front doors to the immigrants and refugees in our community who need help.
I’m calling on every Dunker Punk to commit to being a personal sanctuary for immigrants and refugees in your community. When people ask us to justify why we stand with immigrants and refugees, we must be able to offer our own lives and experiences as evidence of our conviction. We’re all willing to say we stand for justice, now, it is time to prove it. Now, it is time to live it.
Emmett Eldred is a senior Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook.