Thoughts on Ducks and Racism

by Camille on December 22, 2013

I’m rather weary of all the Duck Dynasty stuff, and no doubt, you are too. Please believe me when I say there are about a gazillion other things I’d rather be writing. However, I continue to be disheartened, if not entirely surprised, by the Christians so determined to defend homophobic and racist remarks, and I guess I’d like to put one more voice out there to share the other side.

I have a transracial family. This isn’t a secret. We’re all right there for you to see at the top of this blog. They’re also the banner on my Facebook page. Yet, numerous social media acquaintances had no problem defending Phil’s comments as non-racist on my page, and while I fully support their right to share their ideas, I simply wonder if they would have said the same things if our families had been having dinner together? I wonder if they’d be so eager to explain away the segregated South if sitting across the table from people who wouldn’t even have been allowed at the table during Phil’s “happy” youth.

Defenses included:

Phil was just sharing his experience. He says he never witnessed the mistreatment of blacks, and the ones he knew were happy. Maybe they were. You weren’t there, so how do you know?

* I played with black children side by side with no problems, so I agree with Phil.

* He was just saying he was equal to African-Americans due to his family’s poverty.

Similar comments flooded many of the blog posts I included in yesterday’s link-up. Charlie and I actually enjoyed some good conversations and laughs with a couple of our kids reading all the opinions on what is racist and what’s not. Please forgive me, but when it comes to what is racist, perhaps the opinions of older white people who grew up in the Jim Crow South might not be the most accurate place to start; history can be recalled much differently depending on which side one was on.

For instance, a close friend’s step-father is a black man in his eighties. Born in Georgia and living several years in Alabama, he experienced Jim Crow at its worst. Some of my friend’s first memories of his step-father were the stories he shared about segregation. It wasn’t a happy time. Even to this day, the elderly gentleman warns his son not to date a white girl for fear someone will come take him away.

So let’s consider a few of these arguments.

Okay folks. If Phil never saw the mistreatment of blacks, then I must assume he was either blind or is suffering from extreme amnesia. There were signs of mistreatment literally everywhere.

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Waiting Room

 

Water Fountain

All images from Wikimedia Commons

This is the same problem with Phil suggesting any equality with black people at the time. It’s insulting to the victims of segregation. As a white man (even a poor one), Phil had dozens of liberties denied to black citizens. Segregation affected water fountains, public transit, movie theaters, schools, etc. It was everywhere. 

Some will argue that since these things were an accepted part of his society, simply “the way things were,” then he can’t be held accountable for the past. But in 2013, his words attempted to recreate an an oppressive and abusive era as “happy” and suggested black people today are entitled and ungodly. Today, there’s no excuse for not knowing better. I wonder, what would our response be if they’d interviewed an older German man, and he’d said, “Oh, well, I never saw any Jewish people being mistreated. They seemed happy to me.” Wouldn’t we call such a person a Holocaust denier? So what do we call a person who seems grossly misinformed about the realities of the Jim Crow South? As Kristen Howerton said in her recent post:

…many people have responded with comments about how Phil was just sharing his own experience. As if Phil grew up with no context of race relations. And I get that for people his age, it’s common to have a revisionist view of American history. It’s awkward and painful, and much easier to paint those times as pleasant for everyone involved. But this kind of denial is also a form of racism. So when people are suggesting that Phil’s comments were racist, I think that is accurate. Denying racism, pretending that black people were happy during segregation, and then suggesting they were actually more pleasant back then? Yeah. Racist.

If you were a white person living in the segregated South, it’s highly unlikely you ever had a truly honest conversation or interaction with a black person. Phil shared that no black person ever complained to him. (Insert massive Duh! here) Incredibly detailed social codes dictated every facet of how a black person could and could not interact with a white person, and one perceived misstep could be extremely dangerous. As in, “drowning” in a Louisiana swamp dangerous. In Howerton’s blog, she includes a clip featuring a white man and a black woman discussing life in Louisiana during segregation. Fast-forward to around 30 minutes to hear some of her “non-happy” memories. Around 33 minutes, the man shares how he was actively instructed to disrespect black people.

I get it. None of us like to recall unpleasantness from the past, but only by being honest with ourselves can we ensure a better future. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of explaining to do to my own kids about the failures of my generation one day. Maybe they’ll ask me why I didn’t work harder to protect the environment. Perhaps they’ll look at our current educational system (and all its failures) with shocked incredulity. Or maybe they’ll look at pictures of the folks at anti-gay protests holding up signs shouting “God Hates….” and wonder how the heck we managed to justify discrimination with scripture. (Oh wait. We rather have a history of being gifted that way, don’t we? Scripture has been used to justify and defend both slavery and segregation, after all.)

Also people, having black friends doesn’t mean you might not be racist. Even having a black spouse or even black kids isn’t some automatic shield against the failures of the human heart. History reflects a seemingly inherent propensity for looking at others as “less than,” and there is always room to search out our own subtle stereotyping, our tiny discriminations….and bring them to the light. Charlie and I are not immune, and I’m so thankful for all that my children teach me each day.

Y’all, I get it. Race is a crazy complicated and difficult topic to discuss. We’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. We’re afraid of being seen the wrong way. But we don’t fight racism by pretending it never existed or turning a blind eye to its current manifestations. We fight racism by being constantly vigilant and by maintaining a willingness to have open, honest conversations. We fight by listening to others.

And when it comes to the “but homosexuality is a sin!” part of this debate, I’d write a bunch of words, but I’d feel like a broken record.  I’m just going to say, did your words show love or judgement? Do you think a gay person read your words and suddenly said, “Oh my gosh! I had no idea!! I’ll immediately go and stop being gay!” Do you think your words helped build trust, relationship, or connection within the kingdom of God?

In attempts to avoid another entire post (no promises),please allow me to refer you to the amazing words of Jen Hatmaker: 

Specifically with issues that have caused such heartache and damage already like gay marriage and racial inequity, we should refuse to contribute to someone’s pain by speaking about them abstractedly, distantly, as if they aren’t real human beings whose lives bear actual repercussions of our casual public conversations. The sterile public sphere outside of the protective confines of relationships is not a safe place for such weighty discussions, and we should not add to the pile of condescending, degrading comments about real human people. These precious, fragile conversations belong among people who love one another, who’ve earned the right to be heard, who can look each other in the eye and listen with grace and humility.
 
We are not judges, because how could we possibly be?? How dare we? What right do we have to cut someone to the quick when we are nothing but sinners saved by grace? Sanctification is Jesus’ territory, and we can safely leave Him to it; He can handle the human heart. Our only sane offering to our fellow man is mercy.

 

So many good words! I encourage you to check out the rest of the post.

Also, please understand that I harbor no hatred for Phil. He too, deserves grace. Contrary to the words and threats hurled toward the true victims of bigotry, I don’t think God hates him. I don’t think he’s going to burn in hell. I wish him good health and joy. I just think he might want to reevaluate what it means to love others as Christ would love.

 

Peace to you all.

 

 

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Okay. So I have watched maybe 10 minutes of Duck Dynasty in my entire life. I’m not into hunting or camo, and every time I see the show, I’m overcome by an obsessive need to pull out a heavy-duty razor. So I was a bit puzzled to find bearded guys all over my Facebook feed Thursday morning.

If you’ve known me in any capacity for long, you likely know my beliefs on the relationship between Christianity and homosexuality. I threw my little thoughts into the Oreo debate and the chicken fight. And honestly, it’s just really depressing to watch so many Christians rush to defend a wealthy reality television star when there are so many more worthy causes for indignation and focused energy.

So, here are a few words from my fellow bloggers that resonated with me today:

This is NOT about the first amendment. Oh, and let’s reexamine our definition of persecution, shall we?

From Think Progress:

Robertson is a free man. He has not been arrested for his beliefs. He could continue to say whatever he’d like and, given the current media frenzy, it would probably be quickly published in many other places. Robertson could even take to his own website and publish whatever he wants to say, and individuals could share it through social media the world over. His freedom of speech has been in no way encumbered.

A&E, as a company, enjoys constitutional protections as well, and is under no obligation to provide a platform for messages it disagrees with.

From  Word of a Woman:

Make no mistake, Phil’s rights as an American were not violated. Just because you are free to say something without government reprisal or imprisonment does not mean what you say is free of consequences.

From Matthew Paul Turner:

Because one of their beloved, Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson, is being persecuted y’all. Yes, PERSECUTED! No, he’s not being held hostage by Bible-haters somewhere in Southeast Asia. It’s worse than that. The eldest member of America’s favorite reality TV family has been suspended indefinitely by A&E! I know, right? This is some serious prayer chain fodder for sure…

…Can we–members of the American Church–all just calm down for a moment and look at ourselves? Because we look ridiculous. We look foolish. And worst of all, some of us sound downright ignorant. Because how we respond to events like this matters—ducking matters!…

…Your support of Phil and Phil’s messages, whether you mean it this way or not, is hurtful toward other people. And that should matter to us. Why? Because we are the ones who proclaim the grace and mercy and love of Christ. And Christ cares about those who are offended by Phil’s speech….

Ummm, Phil also said some really ignorant things about black people. While we don’t always (or never) agree on homosexuality, haven’t Christians pretty much decided that racism = bad? 

From The Atlantic

Contrary to Robertson’s assumption, his single experience in Louisiana—however true it may be—doesn’t tell us anything about the realities of the Jim Crow South…..He may envision a Jim Crow South where blacks were treated well and sang happy spirituals all the day long, but this is not the South many African-Americans knew in this era.

From Rage Against the Minivan

I don’t even know where to start with this one. Comparing black people to white trash is cringey, but suggesting that black people were happier during segregation? That because Phil never heard a black person publicly complain BACK IN THE ERA OF LYNCHING means that they must have been satisfied with the state of things? This is so racially tone-deaf that it reminds me of the time Paula Deen romanticized the slaves as being “like family”. Not to mention, the subtext of his remarks is that black people nowadays are entitled, unGodly, discontented welfare recipients. So when I see people as “standing with Phil” based on their Christian values, I really have to ask . . . how does an apologist for our country’s ugly Jim Crow legacy represent Christian values?

Y’all, I’ve had people suggest that Phil’s comments aren’t racist because they express his reality. And since I wasn’t there to personally ask black people in the segregated South if they were happy and content living under Jim Crow, then how do I know they weren’t all cheerful times? How do I know they likely weren’t sitting around giving thanks for life as second-class citizens? Ummm….because I’ve studied a little history, perhaps? Here’s a little review if you want to understand a bit more about the era Phil recalls so fondly.

Phil said:

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once,” the reality star said of growing up in pre-Civil-Rights-era Louisiana. “Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word!”

Robertson continued, “Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Oh Phil. Of course a black person wouldn’t have voiced any honest feelings to you. News flash! You are white. And while you may not have personally witnessed any mistreatment doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening. I’ve never personally witnessed murder, meth manufacturing, domestic abuse, or a gang initiation, but that doesn’t mean I’m ignorant about the existence of such things. When white people romanticize racial history, we discount the reality of the atrocities that occurred and attempt to suggest black consensus with racist policies at that time. We can’t put rose-colored glasses on while looking at the past to make ourselves feel better. Phil, I can somewhat understand these viewpoints early in your life, since they were the prevalent beliefs of  your immediate society at the time. But dude, it’s been a few decades. We know better now. Maybe it’s time to get with the times on this one, eh?

There are so many MORE things that deserve our righteous anger and impassioned defense. 

From It’s Almost Naptime:

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Exactly.

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Last Christmas, we included Ian and Herdest on the family Christmas card. (Please excuse this terrible picture of a picture and take my word for it. We were cute, y’all.) 

xmasCard

 

Due to crazy work and school schedules, we unfortunately didn’t manage to make it behind the camera lens together, but the idea of sending out a greeting without them felt incomplete. By December of last year, they’d both been living with us for almost a year, and we considered them our family.

Of course, the card apparently came as a surprise to some distant friends and relatives. One of Charlie’s Canadian cousins sent a message asking, “Who are those people on your Christmas card?!”

I’m expecting similar reactions this year.

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Charlie used to complain about my insistence upon sending out Christmas cards. (Okay, he might still complain. Occasionally.) With e-greetings, Facebook, Instagram, e-mail, blogs, and a host of other ways to share family photos, updates, and holiday well-wishes, Christmas cards do seem rather superfluous.

Nevertheless, it remains one of my favorite traditions, and with the expansion of our family over the past three years, I’m even more committed to sending out as many cards as possible because of the following:

1. I LOVE receiving cards, so I send them in hopes you feel the same. For just a moment at the end of the day, I get to feel five-years-old again as I run to the mail-box to see what special greetings await. In December, among the junk mail and bills and doctor’s appointment notices, cheerful red and green envelopes hold cheery reminders that someone thought of my family.

2. Christmas cards help me remember to pray for friends and family. While I may glance at a Facebook photo briefly, I’m probably not coming back to it again. I’ll forget the image approximately two seconds after I click “Like.” But when I display a Christmas card on my refrigerator or stocking-shaped card rack or kitchen cabinets (thanks Pinterest), then I’m going to see that card multiple times a day. Thus, while I’m pouring my coffee or making lunch or doing dishes, I look around and see the faces and well-wishes of those I love, and I remember to give thanks for those lives.

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But most importantly….

3. Other adopted kids get to see families that look like them. As we’ve made connections in the adoption world over the past three years, I’ve added lots of adoptive families to my list. I cherish receiving Christmas cards from them, and I’ve kept each one. Ellie loves looking at the pictures, pointing and naming the family members in each photo, and I think it’s important for her to have that added confirmation that families come in all shapes and sizes. At the moment, most of the families in our immediate circle are biologically related and all look the same. However, we’re always going to be the family that gets confused stares at restaurants and awkward questions on the family beach trip. Every time we receive a card from a more diverse family, it sends a reassuring message to my kids. “Okay. So we’re not the only ones. My family is okay. I’m okay. ” 

And of course….

4. I hope my Christmas card inspires conversations about foster care, adoption, race, and family. (I suggest ample hot cocoa and cookies before embarking on any of these discussions.) When I put my Christmas cards in the mail, I happily imagine them sitting on your mantle or stuck to your refrigerator. I then imagine your kids coming to stare curiously at our family, their little wheels turning. And then, I imagine them asking you a million questions.

“Mama, why aren’t they all same color? Don’t families have to look the same, mom? Mama? Mama!? What’s adopted mean anyway? Why do people do that Mama? What happened to their other parents? Are there a lot of kids that need a family mama?”

Optimistically, I imagine you explaining how families can be formed in many ways, and that one of those ways is adoption. You’ll tell them that sometimes, we choose to love people, and they become our family. You’ll tell them that family members certainly don’t have to look the same and maybe look at some more pictures of transracial families together. Possibly,  you’ll talk about foster care and introduce your children to the idea that there are many kids that don’t have loving families. Maybe your kids will grow quiet with concern and start wondering what can be done about that. Maybe you’ll read James 1:27 or a dozen other passages and discuss God’s calling to care for His children. There are a hundred complicated conversations that could begin with our Christmas card, and I’d be thrilled if you embark on even one.

But if at the end of this conversation, should your child say, “But mooooom! We have love in our hearts! We have room in our family! We want to serve God! We want to help mom! Why aren’t we adopting?”…..don’t blame me.

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Disclaimer: I fully recognize and support that adoption is not for everyone. While I advocate for education and awareness for all there are many OTHER WAYS to help children in need without adopting.

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Memphis Folks: Go Wassail for Water this Christmas!

by Camille on December 12, 2013

Hello dear readers. I have been absent from this little blog for so long, I’m almost embarrassed to creep back here. I’d share some of the craziness life has thrown our way, but who needs more whining, right? Suffice it to say, it is the holidays, and if you’re a mom, that means your normal workload is multiplied exponentially with all the little traditions (read: stuff to make, buy, wrap, deliver, do every single night) that bring FaLaLa joy and cheer, but in reality, contribute to a frenzied marathon that will stretch your sanity to its outermost limits.

Grinchy, I know.

So, as I jump back into this blog, let me slog from my own holiday doldrums to a more outward focus. If you live anywhere close to the Memphis area, I’d like to invite you to attend the Wassailing for Water event hosted by Neighborhood Church. It’s at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, at the Brass Door, an Irish Pub on Madison. Beer and spiced wine are provided, and the kitchen will be open.

The idea is to marry singing and making merry to a life-changing cause. Donations from the evening will go to Charity Water, a non-profit organization working to provide clean water in developing nations. This year’s project will provide water filters to Cambodia where unsafe drinking water causes diseases killing more people than all forms of violence.

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Source

 

Y’all, I know it’s a busy time of year, but this is a perfect night to get a sitter and go make merry. Charlie and I attended Wassailing for Water for the first time last year, and it was also our first time to get to know most of the Neighborhood Church crowd. By far, it was one of my favorite events of the season. In the basement of a pub, we raised our voices and sang carols with an Irish flair. We celebrated friends, family, life, and love.

We raised money to bring life-giving water to others, and we welcomed the coming Christ child, who brings life to all. Please join us. 

In the middle of the frenzy, wassailing for water provided a much-needed and truly merry opportunity.

Hope to see you there!

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Adoption Interview Project, 2013

by Camille on November 23, 2013

Adoption Interview Pic

 

This is my third year to take part in the Adoption Interview Project, hosted by Heather at Open Adoption Bloggers. The blog welcomes writers from all sides of the adoption triad—parents, adoptive parents, adoptees—and encourages learning, understanding, and growth. Check out interviews from earlier this month HERE and HERE.

This year, I interviewed Shannon from One Inch of Grace. She and her husband live in Detroit and are parents to an 8-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy adopted from foster care at 4 and 20 months. I much enjoyed getting to know Shannon through her blog, and I’d encourage you to go check it out. In the meantime, here are a few words from her:

1. Your blog is called “One Inch of Grace.” What’s the significance of this title? 

The Bible teaches that God gives us abundant grace, but countless times since we’ve become parents, I feel th I have barely enough – or one inch.

2. You’ve been blogging for about three years. Why did you decide to start blogging, and how have you grown as a writer? What function does blogging serve in your life and in your role as an adoptive mother?

I wanted to blog to keep a record of our early life as a family – I hoped (and I still do) that it will help my kids make sense of everything when they’re older.

3. What challenges are the most frustrating in adopting from foster care? What changes would you like to see in the system, if any?

At the time that we were going through the adoption process, I often became frustrated and impatient at the system and “the hoops” that we were required to jump through. Now that I’m on the other side of it, my main thoughts about the system are focused on decreasing the number of adoptions and keeping families together whenever possible.

4. You also write for Shetroit, and in one post, you mention your journey in appreciating racial diversity. What lessons about your city and its people would you like to share with those on the outside?

We’re minorities in Detroit, and it’s largely been a very positive experience. We’ve felt welcomed and our new friends and neighbors are very gracious.

5. While many people come to adoption after infertility, you chose foster care adoption as the first route to building a family. What factors went into this decision, and what kind of reactions did you get from family, friends, etc. ?

My husband and I felt that we were able to provide love and a home to a child (or children) and we wanted to do this for someone who was already here. Many of our friends and family were supportive. A few people weren’t initially, but they came around and grew to love our kids.

6. What resources were the most helpful to you in preparing to be a foster parent? Do you think typical certification classes are adequate preparation?

I think our foster care training class was very helpful. But, I don’t know if there’s anything that can fully prepare someone to parent a child from foster care. The most helpful thing we did was to visit a family therapist.

7. What is the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers?

The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers is an organization that hosts storytelling events once a month in Detroit. I told my story about adoption at one of these events last year. You can watch the video HERE. 

8. People often tell foster/adoptive parents that we’re saints. How do you respond to that?

I wish I were a saint. I’m just another parent working to be the best I can.

10. You frequently discuss Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control by Heather Forbes and Bryan Post. How did you become aware of this parenting style, and what are its basic tenets? How has this approach helped you as an adoptive parent?

We became aware of BCLC through our family therapist. The basic idea is that children with attachment disorders do not respond well to consequences, logic, or control. The books shares alternative strategies for parenting attachment-challenged children. One of the most appealing parts (to me) is that it focuses not on changing your children and their behaviors, but on changing our reactions as parents to their behaviors.

11. Do you maintain contact with any members of your children’s biological families? What are some of the biggest misconceptions about birth families, especially in the foster care system?

Yes, we have a relationship with several people in my kids’ first families. I think a big misconception in general, is that people are defined by their family. Family members can be vastly different from each other and shouldn’t be judged based on the poor choices of another.

12. As a writer, I always struggle with balancing protecting my children’s stories and being open and honest about parenting and adoption. How do you make those decisions?

I don’t use my children’s names or use their photos. I tend to stay away from personal aspects of their past and focus only on telling my story. I hope they’ll develop their own stories when they’re ready.

My group of participants goes live on Nov. 26. Click HERE to read my responses and other interviews. 

 

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Why I’m a Jesus Feminist

by Camille on November 13, 2013

In the past, I never really felt much connection to the word “feminism,” certainly not in relation to my faith.

Our church employed a female minister on staff, and honestly, it just didn’t occur to me for a long time that there were places where women weren’t welcome in a pastoral role.

I’ve completely taken other blessings for granted as well.

From my first breath, both my parents encouraged me to be anything. Do everything. Thinking back, I realize that my mother fulfilled many traditional gender roles (cooking, cleaning, childcare, etc.), but she simultaneously delivered a much more complex message about womanhood. She worked every day alongside my father, managing the business side of their pharmacy. While leading my Girl Scout troop and hand-making Halloween costumes, she also owned and operated a thriving gift shop and chaired numerous committees in which she directed men. She was the one on top of the roof putting up Christmas decorations, the one paying bills, and the one planning vacations. Thus, though I doubt she’d call herself a feminist, my mother taught me that women are capable, strong, and valuable.

Now, I’m in an egalitarian marriage, where we share spiritual leadership and decision-making and have flexible roles based on our abilities and practicality rather than gender. (As it turns out, we’ve ended up with many fairly traditional gender roles, but that’s a choice we’ve both embraced for this time in our lives. Of course, Charlie does iron all the clothes; he’s just gifted that way.)

Thus, I could have continued through life in my happy “Girls Rule!” bubble with little thought for my less-fortunate sisters.

But Ellie was born, and I entered the blogging community where I first encountered the voices of Rachel Held Evans Sarah Bessey, and so many more, and I gained awareness into why I need to care. I started reading about rape culture, purity culture, sexism, social inequality, and brave women silenced by frightened men and backward cultural norms.

And I realized that I’m a feminist.

In her new book, Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey makes the case for why all Christians, men and women, should be called to feminism too.

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With the title alone, Bessey forces a much-needed conversation about the role of women in the Church, but before you picture some angry, man-hating, masculine monster….be warned.

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With her beautifully poetic writing style, you might not realize you’re thinking about big things. From the beginning, Bessey’s tone aims to disarm critics by opening her arms and inviting all to join her in conversation by a fire on the shore.

“I’ll be honest: some of the words I have to say might rub you wrong. You might disagree with particulars, but that’s okay—stay with me. Let’s sit here in hard truth…and let us discover how we can disagree beautifully.”

Now, if you came to this post holding negative connotations for the word “feminism” then let’s clarify exactly what I’m talking about before you get your panties (or Star Wars boxers) in a wad.

Bessey’s grand plan for feminism:

“I want both men and women to flourish in their God-ordained self; I want women around the world to be safe and well educated, to have rights of citizenship, voting, and property, safe arrivals of their babies, the choice of marriage for love, freedom from sexual exploitation.”

If we add equal pay for equal work, then we’re pretty close to my own understanding and desire. Notice, there’s strangely nothing about hating God, men, family, stay-at-home moms, or shaving. There’s not even the requirement that all women believe the same things. I believe at its core, feminism is simply the belief that every woman should be able to be awesome in whatever role, pursuit, career, passion, or way to which she is called.

Okay…now that we’ve gotten over gut reactions to the word, let’s talk about why as Christians, we MUST care about feminist issues.

A few factoids from Jesus Feminist: 

– Women aged fifteen through forty-five are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined. One major study found that between 30 and 60 percent of women had experienced physical or sexual violence by a husband or a boyfriend. More than 300,000 women are raped in the United States each year.

–  Over 135 million girls and women have undergone genital mutilation, and another 2 million are at risk each year.

– Women compose 70 percent of the world’s poorest people and suffer from unequal access to education and employer discrimination. They earn about three-fourths of a man’s pay for the same work in both developed and developing countries.

– More than 75 million school-age children are not in school, and more than half are girls.

So ladies (and guys), even if some of these particular statistics don’t immediately affect our own lives, we should care. These women are our sisters, and we must find effective ways to support their battles against abusive systems. Furthermore, studies have shown that when women assume financial leadership in communities, those areas begin to thrive and find their way out of poverty. As Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn explain in their book, Half the Sky, women are much more likely than men to spend money on nutrition, housing, medicine, and education, leading to healthier and more stable communities.

Thus, Bessey argues that once we’ve experienced the love of God, it naturally follows that we won’t be able to stop our hearts from seeking justice. She writes, “Once we become disciples of Jesus, we live in the Kingdom of God. And we cannot separate our salvation into a private event, divorced from what Darrell Guder calls the ‘advent of God’s healing reign over all the world.’ Ours is a distinct calling—to demonstrate the reality of God’s redemptive power in the world today.”

With so much incredible suffering in the world and so many desperate to know the hope of Jesus, where is the logic in limiting or outright paralyzing so many effective disciples? As Carolyn Custis James writes in Half the Church, “God created his daughters to be kingdom builders—to pay attention to what is happening around us, to take action and contribute.” When we set limits on what a woman should or should not do within the Church, we’re attempting to set limits on the ability of God to speak and work.

Of course, there are those of you who are googling “quiet and submissive” at this very moment so you can hurl some 1 Timothy my way. While she provides sufficient argument for other interpretations of the “quiet and submissive” mandates, Bessey avoids heated hermeneutical debates to focus on self-renewal and love.

To the naysayers who employ scattered (and culture and audience-specific) scripture as justification for keeping women in a restrained space, Bessey points out that Jesus affirms and celebrates women at a time when they were often seen as sub-human in the culture. They were an incredibly present part of Jesus’ teaching and life and an active part of his ministry. She shares of Jesus’ interactions with various women, and how he treated them no differently than men. She writes:

…We weren’t too precious for words, dainty like fine china. We received no free pass or delicate worries about our ability to understand or contribute to work. Women were not too sweet or weak for the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or too manipulative and prone to jealousy, insecurity, and deception to push back the kingdom of darkness. Jesus did not patronize, and he did not condescend. 

Mary, the mother of God; the adulterous woman; Mary of Bethany; the woman at the well; Mary, sister of Lazarus; Mary Magdalene, and many others—Jesus treated women unexpectedly. He affirmed that women are welcome to learn, to teach, and to serve. He clarified that women need redemption through their own direct relationship with Jesus Christ….not some filtered blessing coming through another.

The book addresses many other fabulous points including authentic community, singleness, and discipleship. There’s more than I could ever cover in one review, but I’d highly recommend the book as a resource for anyone thinking about the role of women in the church. It’s an encouraging, empowering, and thought-provoking read. Bessey encourages us to live in love and to say yes to God until resounding affirmations “sweep over the world.” And her beautiful final commission calls women from the shadows of fear and silence to the bold, active faith found in the freedom of God.

“Stop waiting for someone else to say that you count, that you matter, that you have worth, that you have a voice, a place, that you are called. Didn’t you know, darling? The One who knit you together in your mother’s womb is the one singing these words over you; you are chosen.” 

 Why am I a feminist? Because in essence, I think Jesus is a feminist. I believe Jesus loves each of his precious daughters and wants to see each woman honor him with every single talent and strength he’s given her. I think whether God is watching women teach Bible verses to sticky-fingered children or preach his Word from a pulpit, as long as she’s doing it as an act of service and praise, he is filled with love and sending an emphatic “You go girl!” through the heavens.

But don’t worry. I do still shave my legs. Occasionally.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. on 11/13 when I realized I published an early version and left off a few paragraphs. Oops!

 

 

 

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The K-LOVE Christmas Concert Returns to Raleigh

by Camille on November 2, 2013

On Wednesday, I wrote THIS POST about how K-LOVE radio decided to move a Christmas concert from a church in Raleigh to a church in Cordova citing “safety concerns.” Basically, the station dumped Raleigh for the more popular and attractive girl church across town.

So obviously, those who live in Raleigh (and feel perfectly safe), those of us who love our city and hate the unnecessary fear-mongering, and those who think Jesus didn’t care nearly as much about safety as he did about loving people….well, we got into a bit of a tizzy on social media. I wrote a blog and called the station to voice my concerns. Many others sent e-mails and called too. Some truly creative and problem-solving souls started throwing around ideas for hosting a community event to replace the concert.

Honestly, I didn’t expect much. K-LOVE is a big organization, and at most, I expected to get some form e-mail about how they were praying for me or what not.

But on Friday morning, as I loaded the dishwasher in my pajamas while trying to keep Ellie from absconding with all the leftover Halloween candy, I found myself on the on the other end of the phone from Mike Novak, K-LOVE president. He wanted to let me know that he listened to our messages, and he wanted to express his regret for the hurt feelings in Raleigh. He said they wanted to be the kind of organization that can admit when it makes a mistake and that the situation was poorly handled. Then, he said they had decided to move the concert back to Raleigh.

As of today:

Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 10.56.32 PM

I’m pretty sure I came across as a stammering idiot (I blame the sugar-crazed toddler), as I was definitely caught off guard. In my experience, large organizations almost never reconsider decisions, and even groups calling themselves “Christian” are often motivated only by the bottom line.

Thus, I was immensely encouraged by K-LOVE’s willingness to listen and decision to do the right thing. Thanks K-LOVE.

So….to my Memphis friends, let’s go and support the Raleigh community and show K-LOVE we’re thankful for their attempt to make amends. The K-LOVE Christmas Tour will be at the Raleigh Assembly of God on December 13. I mean, who doesn’t love Christmas music, y’all? Wear a reindeer sweater and bring your holiday cheer. Hope to see you there!

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Dear K-LOVE,

I’d like to begin by saying that I’m a long-time fan of Christian music. (Well….most of it, anyway.) Many in my generation (including loyal church-goers) are not so much supporters. Honestly, those with highly particular musical tastes are rather unimpressed by a genre often dominated by songs that can be played by anyone who knows three guitar chords or those featuring bland lyrics relying mainly on the words God, love, Jesus, and heart.

But seriously, that’s okay with me. I find comfort in praising God through song. I appreciate the healing, repetitive simplicity of voices joined together in worship. (“This is the air I breathe…”)  I love how scriptures come to me attached to melodies I learned decades ago. (“I’m trading my sorrows….”) I love how my sister and I still remember the words to worships songs we sang in middle school. (“Carry your candle, to every soul…”) And of course, there are some truly innovative and creative artists within the Christian music industry.

So K-LOVE, I’ve been a supporter of yours for many years. After all, the world needs more that’s positive and encouraging, and during the hundreds of mornings I spent driving in the pre-dawn darkness to teach high-school English, I definitely needed a BIG dose of Jesus. I got my praise on while driving down 240. Bless the children. Bless them. 

But today, I stopped being a fan.

I was dismayed to find the news on my Facebook feed that you have decided to move the K-LOVE Christmas Tour from the Raleigh Assembly of God on Austin Peay to the Memphis First Assembly on Walnut Grove in Cordova.

Here is the official statement you gave to the church:

Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 10.43.56 PM

 

Safety Concerns

So, some citizens from the more affluent suburbs called and asked you to change the location because Raleigh Assembly, a large church on a well-traveled road easily accessible from 240, is apparently too dangerous. Hmmm…..well, it is completely surrounded….by other churches. Messiah Lutheran, Broadmoor Baptist, and the Raleigh Primitive Baptist Church are all clustered together within walking distance.

Look, I get it. Memphis has a reputation. I tell people where I’m from, and the first response I often get is, “Oh! Isn’t the crime there terrible?! Do you feel safe?”  Yes, we do have problems with crime in our city. But yes, I do feel safe. Because my city is so much more than crime statistics.

Today, I read comments from my friends that live in Raleigh. People who raise their kids, grocery shop, and go about life in that community every day. Overwhelmingly, they feel safe. They’re also pretty offended that you would judge their community in such a way. They’re rather miffed at a message that says, “Hey, y’all are doing a great job, but we need to be acceptable to the Collierville and Germantown folks, so we’re out. Y’all just aren’t good enough.

Did you really base your decision on the complaints of some random folks? Did you send someone to visit Raleigh to evaluate the situation? Talk to law enforcement in the area? Ask the church if it could provide extra security measures? Anything?

More Importantly…

Of course, the real issue here really has nothing to do with the venue “safety” at all. If you market yourself as a Christian organization, then you have the responsibility to act that way. You had an opportunity to set an example here. You had the opportunity to help people escape their comfort zones and interact with others in their city. You had the opportunity to promote understanding and unity. To change perceptions. To broaden minds. Instead, you sent people running for the “safety” of those who look and act just as they do, and you allowed them to think that’s okay.

Another friend suggested that perhaps you’re so focused on being “positive and encouraging” that you’d prefer to avoid any reminders of the “hard realities of the world.” In your statement, you recognize “lingering concerns and myth,” but apparently, you’re giving in to those things? Prayer is great, but it doesn’t mean much without action.

The sunshine and rainbow part of faith is fun, isn’t it? The worship songs and Chicken Soup-ish anecdotes shared over the radio waves. But surely you know, to be truly encouraging…truly inspirational….you cannot ignore Jesus.

And I cannot for the life of me recall the part of the Bible where Jesus said, “My primary concern is your safety and comfort. Ignore your brother, my child, and go hide on the other side of town.” 

Jesus did NOT call us to be safe, but to be BRAVE. A quick search reveals 200+ verses calling for our bravery and trust.

 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

“Then David said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.” 1 Chronicles 28:20

The verses go on and on and on.

I mean, really folks. What kind of faith do we have if we cannot even handle a Christmas concert in (gulp!) Raleigh….where I shopped for groceries and took my daughter to math tutoring this very afternoon.

Above all, K-LOVE, where do you think Jesus would spread the hope and joy of Christmas? Do you think our Savior—the guy who hung out with lepers and prostitutes and the demon-possessed—you think he’d limit himself to the “safe” areas? And aren’t we all supposed to be trying to be like Him?

The concert was supposed to take place Friday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. A friend suggested the Raleigh Assembly of God plan a “Holly Jolly Raleigh” neighborhood party. I hope they do, and this Memphis Mama will be there with jingle bells on!

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I grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, home of the American Family Association. In fact, several people who work there are dear friends and mentors I’ve known for decades. They are Godly people with big hearts and great wisdom.

So of course, several years ago when I realized the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies AFA as a hate group, I felt incredibly disturbed. Surely not! AFA is all about God after all, and God is love…..right?  

AFA made headlines recently after a scandal involving presentation of the organization as a hate group during a National Guard training in Hattiesburg. AFA vehemently denies the label, with president Tim Wildmon calling it “bogus.” The organization says they simply disagree with the normalization of homosexuality, and disagreement is not hatred.

That’s true. Simple disagreement isn’t inherently hateful. So is AFA a hate group? Here’s where my brain is today:

From the dictionary:  (emphasis added) 

hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates and practices hatred, hostility, or violence towards members of a race, ethnicityreligiongendersexual orientation or other designated sector of society. According to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), hate groups’ “primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice against persons belonging to a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin which differs from that of the members of the organization.”[1] The Southern Poverty Law Center‘s (SPLC) definition of a “hate group” includes those having beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.[2]

Quotes from AFA journal articles, radio broadcasts, etc.

(from the Southern Poverty Law Center) 

“Homosexuality is a poor and dangerous choice, and has been proven to lead to a litany of health hazards to not only the individuals but also society as a whole.”
–AFA Action Alert, July 20, 2012

“[Islam] is, in fact, a religion of war, violence, intolerance, and physical persecution of non-Muslims.”
–Tim Wildmon, March 6, 2012

“The homosexual movement is a progressive outgrowth of the sexual revolution of the past 40 years and will lead to the normalization of even more deviant behavior.”
– Don Wildmon, AFA website, 1999 (still posted as of 2011).

“Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”
– Bryan Fischer, AFA director of issue analysis for government and public policy, 2010

“If President Obama, Congressional Democrats, and homosexual activists get their wish, your son or daughter may be forced to share military showers and barracks with active and open homosexuals who may very well view them with sexual interest.”
– AFA press release, February 2010

“Homosexuality is not only harmful to homosexuals themselves, but also to children and to society.”
– Stephen Bennett, AFA writer, 2004

“[T]he homosexual lifestyle is characterized by anonymous sexual encounters and celebration of sexual obsession and perversion unparalleled in any other social group.”
– Richard Howe, “Homosexuality in America,” AFA publication, 1994

And from the AFA website today, I find the following:

An anti-gay and anti-Islam commentary questioning the faith of young Christians who worry about the “ugliness of Christian activism.”

Disappointment in the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to allow homosexual boys to join. In fact, the AFA recommended that parents pull their boys from the BSA and place them in a Christian alternative.

 A video clip comparing homosexuals to snipers

Dismay over the Southern Baptist Convention’s softening stance toward cultural issues including gay marriage and immigration reform.

 

Would it thus be safe to say that Muslims, immigrants, and most definitely, homosexuals don’t exactly feel loved here? Can we understand how they might be receiving a message of hostility? Animosity? And with all the boycotts and “recommendations” is AFA not attempting to promote exclusionary and negative feelings toward these groups?

After five minutes of visiting the AFA site, I know without a doubt what the organization is against. I know that if I’m gay (or completely love and support a person who is), then I’m not welcome. If I’m an undocumented immigrant or love Disney World or shop at Home Depot or loved the JC Penny ads featuring multiple family types or (God forbid!) voted for Obama….then I’m not going to fit here.

Because AFA seems to be against a lot.

And that’s okay sometimes. There’s a lot to be against. Personally, I’m against human-trafficking and kids without families and bullying lonely teens into suicide because they’re different and failing marriages and the crippling effects of poverty and ridiculous politicians trying to dictate insane and meaningless education reforms and a thousand other things.

But as Christians, shouldn’t we put more energy into telling people what we’re FOR? Shouldn’t we pick our “against” so carefully and put our energy into loving people better?

For instance, though we may differ on whether or not homosexuality is a sin, I don’t understand how there is such difference among Christians in deciding how to treat others, no matter their particular sin. Jesus was so clear in His example here.

I heard this Casting Crowns song earlier this week, and though I’ve heard it dozens of times, I felt like I really listened for the first time. Such perfect words:

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

Yeah…

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

Most of the individuals I know from AFA are not hateful. I believe they truly want to share the love of God with the world. So to those people I say, please review the message you’re sending. If you’re not a hate group, show it with words of mercy, grace, and love. Stop pointing fingers long enough to dine with the outcasts. Instead of boycotts, put your energy into opening doors. Instead of swinging swords, kneel in the sand next to the hurting.

Focus on what you’re for, and please, be for loving like Jesus did.

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Jesus and “José Illegal”

by Camille on October 21, 2013

Recently, I noticed the following going around on Facebook:

JOE vs. JOSE

You have two families: “Joe Legal” and “Jose Illegal”. Both families have two parents, two children, and live in California .

Joe Legal works in construction, has a Social Security Number and makes $25.00 per hour with taxes deducted.

Jose Illegal also works in construction, has NO Social Security Number, and gets paid $15.00 cash “under the table”.

Ready? Now pay attention….

Joe Legal: $25.00 per hour x 40 hours = $1000.00 per week, or
$52,000.00 per year. Now take 30% away for state and federal tax;

Joe Legal now has $31,231.00.

Jose Illegal: $15.00 per hour x 40 hours = $600.00 per week, or $31,200.0 0 per year. Jose Illegal pays no taxes.

Jose Illegal now has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal pays medical and dental insurance with limited coverage for his family at $600.00 per month, or $7,200.00 per year. Joe Legal now has $24,031.00.

Jose Illegal has full medical and dental coverage through the state and local clinics and emergency hospitals at a cost of $0.00 per year.

Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal makes too much money and is not eligible for food stamps or welfare. Joe Legal pays $500.00 per month for food,
or $6,000.00 per year. Joe Legal now has $18,031.00.

Jose Illegal has no documented income and is eligible for food stamps, WIC and welfare. Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal pays rent of $1,200.00 per month, or $14,400.00 per year. Joe Legal now has 9,631 .00.

Jose Illegal receives a $500.00 per month Federal Rent Subsidy. Jose Illegal pays out that $500.00 per month, or $6,000.00 per year.

Jose Illegal still has $ 31,200.00.

Joe Legal pays $200.00 per month, or $2,400.00 for car insurance. Some of that is uninsured motorist insurance. Joe Legal now has $7,231.00.

Jose Illegal says, “We don’t need no stinking’ insurance!” and still has $31,200.00.

Joe Legal has to make his $7,231.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline, etc..

Jose Illegal has to make his $31,200.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline, and what he sends out of the country every month..

Joe Legal now works overtime on Saturdays or gets a part time job after work.

Jose Illegal has nights and weekends off to enjoy with his family.

Joe Legal’s and Jose Illegal’s children both attend the same elementary school. Joe Legal pays for his children’s lunches, while Jose Illegal’s children get a government sponsored lunch. Jose Illegal’s children have an after school ESL program.

Joe Legal’s children go home.

Now, when they reach college age, Joe Legal’s kids may not get into a State School and may not qualify for scholarships, grants or other tuition help, even though Joe has been paying for State Schools through his taxes, while Jose Illegal’s kids “go to the head of the class” because they are a minority.

Joe Legal and Jose Illegal both enjoy the same police and fire services, but Joe paid for them and Jose did not pay.

If you vote for or support any politician that supports illegal aliens… You are part of the problem!

First, if you agree with the tenets presented in this comparison, please pursue at least a cursory inquiry into a more balanced perspective. Immigration ProCon.org, a non-partisan public charity, seems to provide a fairly balanced look into both sides of common immigration-related arguments.

For instance, the anecdote above would suggest “José Illegal” pays no taxes. However, 10 Myths About Immigration from the Southern Poverty Law Center reports the following:

Undocumented immigrants pay taxes every time they buy gas, clothes or new appliances. They also contribute to property taxes—a main source of school funding—when they buy or rent a house, or rent an apartment. The Social Security Administration estimates that half to three-quarters of undocumented immigrants pay federal, state and local taxes, including $6 billion to $7 billion in Social Security taxes for benefits they will never get…

Others say that José should have gone through the proper channels since coming to America legally is SO easy. Those people are ignorant.

Please check out the full infographic from Mike Flynn and Shika Dalmia explaining the immigration process. To give you an inkling, here’s a portion:

Screen shot 2013-10-21 at 5.11.47 PM

Ian, the handsome guy with glasses at the top of this page, waited from the time he was a baby until he was 14-years-old to join his mother in America as a permanent resident. At 21, he’ll be pursuing citizenship early next year. Notice the guy on the right side of the chart with the long beard. He makes frequent appearances among the maze of arrows explaining the simple process.

Another point of contention is that José gets food stamps and benefits from a host of social welfare programs while “Joe Legal” does not. This supports the common complaint that immigrants come here to take advantage of welfare intended for American citizens. However, as a PBS report documents:

Immigrants come to work and reunite with family members. Immigrant labor force participation is consistently higher than native-born, and immigrant workers make up a larger share of the U.S. labor force (12.4%) than they do the U.S. population (11.5%). Moreover, the ratio between immigrant use of public benefits and the amount of taxes they pay is consistently favorable to the U.S., unless the “study” was undertaken by an anti-immigrant group. In one estimate, immigrants earn about $240 billion a year, pay about $90 billion a year in taxes, and use about $5 billion in public benefits. In another cut of the data, immigrant tax payments total $20 to $30 billion more than the amount of government services they use.

Granted, the PBS report is from 2003, but a 2011 report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce  comes to the same conclusions.

Of course, thanks to recent policy changes, it does seem undocumented immigrants are making progress in gaining access to social programs. For instance, earlier this year, the USDA began marketing SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to immigrants without requiring proof of immigration status. The USDA hopes to aid American children living in households with non-citizen adults.

I think one of the most ridiculous stereotypes is that immigrants inherently bring criminality and negatively affect the American way of life. Right. Because American society represents such a lofty moral standard and all. Actually, a Forbes 2013 report easily discredits the majority of myths about immigrants destroying the country. Forbes reports:

Immigrants are religious, family-oriented, entrepreneurial and no more prone to crime than natives. Seventy percent of Hispanics who moved to the U.S. in the last two decades are Catholic (one fifth are “born again” Christians) and 23 percent are Protestant. One in two undocumented households has couples with children; only thirteen percent of them are headed by single parents—against one third of native households. The percentage of immigrant workers who are self-employed mirrors that of natives. Immigrant-led gentrification has revived neighborhoods from New York to Florida. Adjusted for age, the proportion of immigrants who are criminals mirrors that of natives.

I’m not arguing that there aren’t gross abuses within the system, but those abuses are far from limited to immigrants.

And I’d be willing to bet the person who wrote this article has never lived in federally subsidized housing or attended a government-run health department for a basic physical or sat in a classroom trying to learn to write and take exams in a language he can’t speak.

Because folks, life for José isn’t always the trouble-free paradise pictured in juxtaposition to “Joe Legal.” 

From my personal experiences with immigrants, I’d say it’s much more likely that José leaves his construction job and heads to his janitorial position at the high school where he empties trash and pries gum off desks. On Saturday and Sunday, José works as a parking lot attendant to help support his family here and have something left to send to loved ones back home.

José Jr. comes to class exhausted because he had to move again in the middle of the night; authorities are looking to deport his father. He wants desperately to achieve, but the curriculum mandates that his even his ESL teacher must speak only in English.

José’s daughter is violently assaulted by a criminal who will go on to assault plenty of others, citizens and non-citizens,  but she’s terrified of pressing charges or seeking medical or psychological treatment due to her immigration status.

Yes, there are problems with the system, but I would suggest that none of that justifies discrimination, hatred, or apathy when it comes to the plight of undocumented immigrants in this country. I’ve touched on only a small fraction of the heated political arguments surrounding the subject, but in all honesty, that’s not what bothers me the most.

What’s most disturbing is that the above erroneous, overly simplified, bigoted piece of crap is being circulated among the Facebook pages of those who also call themselves Christians.

Billboard

Image Source

Does no one see a problem with this?! How exactly, do we think Jesus would treat undocumented immigrants? As Christians, do we think we’re somehow allowed to suspend our faith in favor of staunchly conservative immigration policies whenever it suits us? Do we imagine that our carefully created and defended borders really matter one iota to the God who created and loves the world and all the souls He placed within?

It seems to me Jesus was all about breaking down borders. Crossing boundary lines. Loving everyone in word and deed. 

A few Bible snippets for your consideration: 

“When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who resides with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19: 33-34

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger, and you welcomed me…” Matthew 25:35

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25: 40. 

“And people will come from east and west, from north and south, and recline at the table in the kingdom of God.” Luke 13:29.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the foreigner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7: 9-10

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

These are only a few of the many verses that suggest that Jesus would treat undocumented immigrants (and all people) with compassion. Grace. Open arms. Offers of assistance. Genuine concern. Joyful welcome.

When God loved the world, he didn’t just mean America. When he told us to love our neighbor, he wasn’t referring solely to the upper-middle class individuals who were raised in our hometown, attend the same church, and hold exactly the same political and social opinions.

I’m pretty sure Jesus would wrap his arms around José and say, “You’re my child. Come on over. Let me share these loaves with you.” 

 

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