Posts Tagged ‘Children’

It’s About the Children!

June 20, 2018

As a Christian clergy let me begin by saying our current leadership should be using the constitution not the bible to either uphold or critique a law of our land. There is a reason our founders included a non-establishment of religion statement in our founding documents, and the citation of any religious text, including the bible as a legal document to uphold the enforcement of a law is not only inappropriate but counters the very constitution that forms our nation!

As a Christian clergy my faith and the faith documents that are a part of the forming of my own journey shape how I choose to speak to and live my life in the country of my birth. While I am a staunch advocate of our founder’s commitment to the separation of church and state I am well aware of my faith’s influence on how I work to affect policy making that promotes justice, equality, compassion, and the common good for all persons not only of these United States but all persons around the globe. As a person of faith the general well being of all of God’s children, and that means all of humanity, is both a passion and foundational to my calling and vocation.

So, I implore the administration of these United States to stop using the bible and the Christian faith to support a perceived interpretation and enforcement of a law of the land. That should apply to any law, but especially an unjust law interpreted so as to separate children from their parents and place them in the equivalent of cages. Just STOP! One does not enforce an unjust presumed law simply because it is on the books! One should choose to break that unjust presumed law and then change it!

I have been dismayed, disheartened, and angry at the attempts to justify the separation of children from their families simply because it is the law. I am sick to my stomach at the current administration blaming everyone but themselves as if they are powerless to do anything but put children in prison. I am furious at persons who say if they did not want their children in prison they should not have come here illegally. I am livid that anyone, for any reason would try and justify putting children in chain link cages!

Our immigration system is broken. We cannot not continue to victimize the victims who come here seeking refuge and sanctuary. For those who say they need to come legally, few of those crossing our borders have the kind of resources or the time available to navigate the complicated and time-consuming process that we as a nation set before them. Many of them come here with no other choice, literally running for their lives with nothing but the shirt on their back, if that, with no where to go and nowhere to return. It is a privileged and uncompassionate position to look down on these persons with such hate and judgement! We need to welcome them and find a way to help them become citizens without fear of being returned to the violence and hopelessness they have fled.

That being said. I really don’t care what the argument is that attempts to justify pulling families apart and placing children in prisons of chain link fence, tents, and detention centers… there is no justification, it is wrong, immoral, and heinous!

As I said, we need to rectify this as a country, honoring all of the people who are in our midst regardless of their religion or lack thereof. However, if I were to seek a citation from my faith tradition it would not be a reference that says we have to follow the law regardless of what it is because it is the law. I would choose a citation such as the words of Jesus who spoke of this journey of life and faith this way, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” This administration and its attempts to use the bible to promote heinous acts as a way to somehow appeal to their base with religion is at best misguided and manipulative and at worse and blasphemous and evil. This administration and its unjust policies, and too many in our country who support such policies, will reap what it sows’.

It is time for the church, it is time for our citizens, it is time for all persons not only here in this country but across the globe to stand up and speak, and act, and to say enough is enough! It is time for all of us to take a stand, to speak up, and to make justice happen! Silence cannot be an option! I believe the character of our nation is at dire risk, but I also believe in the genuine goodness of those of us who believe in compassion, justice, and love for all. But we must rally together and make a difference and fight for the common good of all persons. Until that day when all persons, ALL persons are welcome at the table of abundance and hope.

May it be so! May it be Now!

Rev. Kent H. Little

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Rise

November 10, 2016

This is a long blog but today I write. Yesterday I tried to spend the day caring for myself and those I heard and saw who were struggling with fear, pain, and grief. I write, in large part, because it is in this atmosphere I process my own thoughts and feelings. For me in this moment such processing is important because of all the fear and pain I see in the world around me.

I am a political junky, I suppose not to the extent of many, but I have long loved to read about, see, study, and watch the political process unfold. It is an interesting place to be as a clergy person who is staunchly committed to the separation of church and state. I often find myself dancing with that line between my own personal opinion and political passion and my role as pastor and religious leader in the church I serve and the broader world. But, for the most part I think I do well the dance along that line staying true to our founders and their passion for a freedom of and from religious privilege in our government while honoring the diverse expression of religious and non-religious belief and practice in our country.

And so, today, after a day of reflection, tears, prayer, reading, meditation, and pondering I want to share in my blog where I am. I share this not looking for debate or defense, but simply so those who care would know my heart and the pain and struggle I feel for those who are feeling isolated, targeted, and fearful.

Let me say first, in regards to the political, I understand diverse political views. I have been a member of both major political parties and in my thirty-nine years of voting I have rarely voted a straight ticket, always looking for the best possibility for fairness and justice.  I understand we are not always going to agree on political stance and thought. For me, that is one of my loves of the process, to come together with diverse perspectives and try and find ways to work together for the common good, honoring our differences while lifting up and highlighting those places we can compromise and move forward.

So, that being said, while I voted for Hillary Clinton, I can still deal with and wrap my head around why there are those of my friends and acquaintances who voted for President Elect Donald Trump from a political ideological perspective. While I am sure we may passionately disagree in our political ideology and perspective, as I said earlier, that is the way our system works, and I believe one of the things that makes our system strong. And though I think we have lost some sense of the ability in our country to disagree civilly and respectfully while working together for the common good, I pray and work every day for that ideal.

My grief and struggle over the last few days, over the last year, is not about political ideology, though that is the context in which it was often born. What has broken my heart is borne out of my faith in God and my role as pastor as I witness the fear and pain that has been instilled because of the vitriol language, hatred, and bigotry that seems to have raised its ugly head in so many ways.

I am profoundly aware I need to temper my words so as to not assume I know or have experienced the kind of fear and hate many are feeling today because I do not and have not. I am white, male, and straight, and as such, I carry a certain amount of privilege. My responsibility is to listen and stand with those who have come to trust me enough to be vulnerable.

When I counsel, listen, weep with, and pray with those who have been the victims of sexual assault and feel that comments by Mr. Trump have fueled and normalized that kind of talk and abuse, and it brings all of that experience back for them, my heart is heavy.

When I counsel, listen, weep with, and pray with those who are lesbian, gay, trans-gender, bi-sexual, and queer who fear for their livelihood and their marriage and family because their rights have been promised to be reversed, my heart is heavy.

When I counsel, listen, weep with, and pray with immigrants and parents who are of a different color and national origin who had to comfort their children the morning after the election because their children feared they would be sent away, my heart is heavy.

When I counsel, listen, weep with, and pray with those who are disabled fear they will be mocked and chided even more than they have been in the past, my heart is heavy.

When I counsel, listen, weep with, and pray with persons of color who are made to feel less than simply because of the color of their skin, my heart is heavy.

When I sit in the Mosque and pray with my Muslim friends, brothers, and sisters and listen to their stories of hate filled language, suspicious looks, vandalism against their place of worship, and fear of their neighbors, my heart is heavy.

What breaks my heart, what has me grieving yet today, is not even so much about the one we have elected as our next president, but the racism, sexism, misogyny, Islamophobia, discrimination, bigotry, xenophobia, fear, and hatred that seems to have been unleashed in our country.

As I said earlier, while I would passionately disagree, I can understand and wrap my head around why someone would vote for this from a political ideological standpoint. What grieves my heart and soul is those I watch use their faith as a justification for that vote. That I cannot understand. My faith, my God, my Jesus would never condone voting for these kinds of abusive and fear laden beliefs. God is not a God of fear, but a God of love. Our faith should have no place for this kind of fear, indeed, it should cast it out!

Today as a clergy and religious leader, I am less upset about our political process as I am with our religious community. I point the finger at myself as well in this, where was the church? How could the church condone such hatred of the other, either by its blatant support or by its fearful silence? I hope and pray we will come together and advocate justice for all in a way where all means all!

We need to stand with those who are uncertain and fearful today. It is important to acknowledge and be sensitive to those who feel marginalized and how they might, justly, fear me, white, male, and straight, and Caucasian people in general, because they feel betrayed and have no idea who they can trust. We need to go out of our way to be kind and helpful and reach out and get to know them, even defend them. Whether we voted for Hillary or not, we are, at first glance, now judged as bigots, and unfortunately we now need to prove otherwise.  It’s not their problem, we all have to own it to overcome it, and especially, I believe, the church.

While I am still grieving and heartbroken with the fear I see in my brothers and sisters lives who are uncertain of their future and place in our country, I am not defeated. I am reminded of the words of Paul in the Second Letter to the Corinthians as he encourages them, “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Those of us committed to justice, compassion, kindness, mercy, love, and humility, I pray, are even more committed today. As the mourning passes, we will rise, together! And we will stand with women, immigrants, persons of color, LGBTQ persons, the disabled, Muslims and all persons of religious faith as well as non-religious, persons of color, and all those who feel marginalized and targeted by prejudice and hate. May we all embrace the mandate from the prophet and Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with our God. Justice for all will come. Love will prevail. It is my prayer. It is my passion. It is my life. Here I stand, I pray you will join me. May it be so.

 

Peace and Light for our Journey ahead –

Rev. Kent H. Little