Love does no wrong to a neighbor

Published June 26, 2018

by The HARC Board of Directors
Published in the Herald-Mail June 20, 2018

As faith leaders in Washington County, we have a moral and sacred obligation to address any action, regardless of legal warrant, that inflicts harm on the weak and the vulnerable among us. Our diverse faith traditions are united in upholding the sanctity of human life and in affirming love, hospitality, compassion and justice as essential elements of the character of God and the practice of faith. Our traditions teach, “Do not oppress the stranger nor pressure him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:20)

We condemn the zero-tolerance immigration policy that resulted in the separation of families seeking asylum in the United States and the internment of children. A philosophy of determent mandated that the United States intentionally establish conditions for children and families that were worse than those they risked their lives to escape, frequently fleeing conditions of violence and political unrest. The use of family separation and the internment of children as a means to deter refugees from seeking asylum in the United States was a moral offense.

We declare that the zero-tolerance policy stood in opposition of our religious traditions that ask us to respond to the divine call to welcome the stranger, to love all people, and to relate to others as we would have others relate to us.

We demand that sacred texts be appropriately utilized as teachings of our faith to build a better future for all. When our texts are misrepresented to support practices that are antithetical to the tenets of our faith, we have a duty to respond. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions has justified the zero-tolerance policy by appealing to Romans 13, which says: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.”

Similar appeals have undergirded some of the most inhumane policies and practices in our nation’s history. As faith leaders, we expressly condemn any appeal to sacred texts to justify or excuse the inhumane treatment of any human being. A more complete reading of Romans 13 necessarily should include Romans 13:10, which says, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”

During this time of moral crisis, we wish to acknowledge that certain elected officials are behaving in accordance with ethical leadership. We commend the actions of Gov. Hogan, who ordered the return of the deployment of Maryland National Guard resources from the border until the policy of separating children from their families had been rescinded.

We call upon all people to uphold the dignity and worth of all of God’s children.

Despite any rescinding of a policy that separates children from their families, we must remain vigilant to address any existing trauma that has already occurred and any further actions that might compound the violation of children’s rights and emotional well-being of themselves and their parents. Any practice that does not account for the dignity and worth of a child is subject to critique.

Rabbi Ari Plost, B’nai Abraham, president, HARC
Rev. Elizabeth Jackson, Otterbein United Methodist Church, vice president, HARC
Kathy Powderly, executive director, HARC
Rev. Jake Caldwell, First Christian Church
Rev. Todd Young, St. John’s Episcopal Church
Rev. Kevin Munroe, Zion Reformed Church UCC
Richard Willson, John Wesley United Methodist Church
Bill Pike, Unitarian Universalist Church
Rev. Ed Poling, Interfaith Coalition of Washington County

 

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