These aren’t my words. I agree with most, but not all of this address given by Rev Laura Everett at the Boston rally against the Muslim Ban yesterday. So I will share it, comment a little, and then ask what you think. Do you agree or disagree?
I greet you in peace. My name is Rev Laura Everett, and I serve as the executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, a statewide network of thousands of Christian individuals, congregations, and denominations convinced that what binds us together in Christ is stronger than anything that divides us.
If you are a Muslim here because you are concerned about your rights, and the rights of others, please raise your hand.
If you are a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Sikh, a Mormon, a Baha’i, a humanist, a person whose deep values compel you to stand with our Muslim neighbors, please raise your hand. Keep your hands up.
My Muslim neighbors, look around. You are not alone. You are surrounded by people of many faiths and shared values who stane with you this day, and in the days to come.
I come to you today with the prayers, well wishes, and solidarity of so many who grieve this executive order and the violence it compounds. For every person here, there are many more across this state who share our commitments.
I come to you today not in spite of my faith, but because of my faith. I believe, and strive to life by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In my heart and in my bones, I am a Christian.
Here me say this: There is nothing Christian about a ban on Muslims. There is nothing Christian about refusing refugees.
There is nothing Christian about denying safe harbor to those fleeing violence. Nothing.
You’ve heard it, the efforts to wrap this Executive Order in the guise of Christianity. Resist it. Disprove it. Unmask it.
There is nothing Christian about refusing refugees.
Pope Francis said yesterday, “It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of your help.”
Because our tradition is clear. Deuteronomy 10:19 commands, “You shall also love the foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” God’s people have always been refugees.
The story of Jesus’ birth is the story of refugees. Refugees invite our increased compassion, not our hardened hearts.
Jesus was born, not in a time of peace, but in a time of fear and political instability. Mary and Joseph were migrants, forced to travel because the Emperor Augustus required all people to be registered. The Holy Family was later forced to flee the violence of their homeland. (Luke 2, Matthew 2)
So for Christians, Our Savior was a migrant. Jesus Christ was a refugee.
I want you to hear me promise you this: If, God forbid, our newly elected officials decide to force Muslims to register, then I will register as a Muslim. My colleague Jeremy Burton at Jewish Community Relations Council has vowed the same. If, God forbid, our elected officials decided to force a registry of Muslims, as a Jew Jeremy Burton will register first and I will register next. Our American tradition of religious liberty is not just for some, but for all. A threat against you is a threat to us all.
I also promise you this: we will do our own work in the Church. We know that there are other Christians who misunderstand or misrepresent Muslims. We will continue to work to educate ourselves.
As Christians, we vow to follow Jesus in standing with the vulnerable. The Christians across Massachusets want you to know that you are valued, loved, and essential members of the community. We are tempted towards despair, but we believe in a life stronger than death and a love stronger than fear.
Please accept our sorrow in your suffering, our solidarity in your struggle, and our friendship in faith.
I’d like to bless us:
Holy One, we know You by many names.
Bless us. Make us faithful, and make us brave. Amen.
OK, back to me (BJ) for a few comments. 1) I would not register as a Muslim. I am a Christian, I am proud of that fact and I would never consider representing myself as anything else. While I would refuse to register as anything at all, and while I would actively, 1960’s style protest any attempt at government registration, I would not classifying myself as anything but what I am. 2) I think she is misrepresenting what Islam actually teaches when she talks about educating the church. There is a huge gap between what the Quran teaches and what most most Muslims practise. This is a good thing because most Muslims are taught and raised to be good, honest, loving, decent people. However, the Quran is not a good book and those who follow it are the ones who end up being the radical extremists we rightly fear. This is why the Arabic speaking world tends to have far more extremists than Muslim cultures in other places. They actually understand what they are taught to recite.
3) I am not a fan of her short prayer at the end. It is not one God known by many names. The God of Judeo-Christianity is vastly different than the god of Islam. Part of respecting people of other cultures and faiths is to not just recognize our similarities but also acknowledge and respect our differences. 4) I understand that this was the prepared speech but what she actually said in Boston was shorter. The reason for that was because she was pressed for time and also she had to use the people’s mic because the sound system wasn’t adequate for the size of the crowd at the rally.
Anyways, what are your thoughts? Where do you agree with her thoughts? How do you disagree? What are your views on the ban? I know this is an incredibly divisive issue but would love to offer up this space where those of divergent viewpoints can express them that we might learn from each other without all the rhetoric and vitriol that abounds in the twitter and facebook world at the moment.
So if you are still reading, stop. Scroll down. Start writing. It’s your turn.