An Open Letter To CAIR

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?

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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18 thoughts on “An Open Letter To CAIR”

  1. When we seek to identify our differences we always will. When we unite we have to respect each others’ differences (or we cannot unite). So if I “register as a Muslim” (in this case) it is because of my supreme confidence in God of all rather than just my God.

    You prompted that distillation – thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The purpose in registering as a Muslim would in this case be a way to protect the target group. It’s like the town in Montana (?) where someone targeted Jews with hate letters so everyone put Menoras in their windows as a show of solidarity and a way to hide the Jews in a sense. What if every German in the 30’s wore yellow stars ? What would Hitler do? It would take away his power in a nonviolent action. We are free in America to protest and discuss these issues openly, however, our Executive actually did sign this order, it’s real, and I am ready to not cooperate with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One’s faith is not something to take lightly, nor is it a coat to take on and off. I am deeply saddened by this whole affair which seems to be excessively human, including the mentioned speech. I must agree with you about the Qu’ran, the parts of which I have read at lenght I find to be a deeply disturbing. But that is not a reason to turn away. For we are commanded to love one another. This is our only hope for salvation. We must remain flexible and able to bend with life like all healthy growth that’s nourished from within; lest we snap and break in the storm.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some of your standout statements are in quotes below:

    “There is nothing Christian about denying safe harbor to those fleeing violence. Nothing.”

    “There is nothing Christian about a ban on Muslims. There is nothing Christian about refusing refugees.”

    “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.”

    Although I agree with the above statements, my question to you is this:

    HOW DO YOU DISCERN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LEGITIMATE REFUGEE IN NEED OF HELP AND A TERRORIST?

    and

    WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT THIS FROM ONLY A CHRISTIAN STANDPOINT?

    WHAT ABOUT OTHER RELIGIOUS AFFILIATIONS OR ATHEISTS OR ANYONE ELSE WHO DOES NOT SHARE IN YOUR SAME MORAL OR ETHICAL VIEWPOINT?

    DOES THEIR OPINION OR AFFILIATION OR BELIEF OR LACK OF BELIEF NOT MATTER TO YOU?

    AND IF SO THEN WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT YOU AND OUR COUNTRY AND ITS CITIZENS.

    That is the real question and issue we are facing. In the time of Jesus as you like to use as comparison there was no technology for car bombs, backpack bombs, modern firearms, etc.

    It is very true that this ban in an unfortunate necessity in an effort to keep the vast majority of people already residing in our country…SAFE!

    Can you, or any of the other opponents of President Trump’s executive order, find a better way to discern terrorist from refugee?

    If so then please proceed with your alternate solutions with regard to national safety and security. Otherwise you are only white noise.

    If you’re not a part of the solution then you are a part of the problem.

    Remember the atrocities that have occurred not only in our country but also abroad directly or indirectly as the result of Muslim extremists aka Terrorists.

    Think about it. The human justice issue isn’t only about the refugees and would be immigrants, its also about those of us ALREADY LIVING HERE!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The claim that we are in danger of terrorists coming into America through our current refugee screening process is a misconception. No, that word is not nearly strong enough. It is an outright lie. According to a nonbiased risk analysis done by a conservative group the odds of dying because of a terrorist who has come to America through the screening process we already have is one in 3.6 billion. In other words, we are in more danger from random lightning, drowning in the bathtub, getting eaten by a shark, and dying from fireworks than dying from a terrorist threat from the refugee process we have. Check out the Cato Institute risk analysis…
      https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/terrorism-immigration-risk-analysis
      I have also already written about the refugee screening process we have had under the Obama administration. Please free to check it and then tell me exactly why and how you think it needs to be improved. Our refugee screening process is already by far the best in the world. Just because the conservative dittoheads keep running around screaming “we are in danger” does not mean it is true.
      https://kingdomscollide.org/2015/11/23/dispelling-the-myth-the-refugee-screening-process/

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi BJ, I find that I echo most of your concerns about this speech. Registering as a Muslim, in my opinion, is a contradiction to our Christian faith and I personally would not do this. I am a Christian. The blessing wherein the Holy One is known by many names I also cannot agree with. The god of Islam is not the Biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I understand the intent and have no problem voicing our support for law abiding Muslims as people who have the right to practise their own religion within the USA, and likewise here in Canada. Mutual respect for our shared humanity and mutual respect for our different faiths. Intolerance and division within our society needs to be looked at within the framework of our Lord’s commandment to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This is a Christian witness that not enough of us truly take to heart. 1 John 4:18 NIV comes to mind: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” With regard to the Executive Order sanctions pertaining to Muslims brought about recently by President Trump that has necessitated this exchange, the vetting process (18 to 24 months) that the Obama administration put into place was more than sufficient to meet the prudent security safeguards and requirements. This latest decision by President Trump regarding temporary immigration sanctions, breeds division, not tolerance, and definitely not love, in keeping with prudent safeguards to address legitimate terrorism concerns necessitated by extreme Muslims.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear BJ – I find my heart seriously, deeply hurting over this whole issue of the so-called “Muslim Ban,” which the term in itself is not a true representation of what President Trump has issued. Why some people, and our media continue to misconstrue what actually was written is beyond me. It does noone any good, and hurts us all! Deeply!
    1) There is NO Muslim Ban. Pres. Trump’s EO places a temporary stop to refugees coming into the US from 7 Countries only – the SAME 7 countries that Pres. Obama named in his “ban.” In fact, the most Muslim citizen inhabited Countries – India and Indonesia – are NOT even on this list, and this is not because it benefits Pres. Trump – again, the 7 Countries he listed are the 7 Countries set forth by the Obama Administration! This TEMPORARY issue is just so that these particular visitors can be vetted properly in a time when their countries are war-torn and proven to be hot beds for terrorists. Pres. Trump’s wording also allows for exceptions to be made if deemed appropriate. And it does not affect green card holders. That issue has been qualified. Please, anyone calling this a “Muslim Ban,” please STOP calling this EO a Muslim Ban – it is NOT and all those calling it such are unjustifiably inciting unrest, discord, and violence as they spread this NONtruth. Jesus stood for Truth – always. As Christians, and non-Christian, good-seeking people, let’s spread the truth here. Not the media’s and hysterical people’s misrepresentations. Google this term and find a ton of info, as well as the truth of what this EO actually says and does. Try this for starters:
    http://townhall.com/tipsheet/mattvespa/2017/01/29/news-bulletin-the-list-of-muslim-nations-in-trumps-socalled-muslim-ban-are-ones-obama-choose-n2278021
    2) As President of the United States, Donald Trump has a first priority job of protecting Its citizens. Just like a mother or father has the first priority of protecting their child. I lock the doors of my home and my auto, and don’t allow ANYONE to enter until I “vet” them and feel they are safe. This is protecting my family. I’m pretty sure you would do the same, as do most parents. Donald Trump is tasked with protecting his Country’s families in the same way. We must do a better job of vetting those coming into our beloved Country. The laws and regulations that are currently on the books have not been adhered to and President Trump is seeing that they are followed now, and until we get procedure down pat, stronger, temporary measures have to be taken. It is what he was elected to do, as was every single President ever elected in our Country.
    3) Yes, I am a Christian – a dedicated, in active service to God, born-again Christian. I daily read my Bible and pray continually. I tithe. I teach Bible Study, I lead a weekly ladies group. I participate in numerous ministries. (Yes, I am a deeply flawed sinner saved by Grace.) I try to walk my talk every moment of every day. Some days I fail. I love everyone, even my enemies, because Jesus asks me too. But that doesn’t mean I purposely put myself or my children in harm’s way. Jesus doesn’t ask me to. Yes, I help feed/clothe the strangers, but I don’t invite them into my house until I reasonably feel they are safe. I do not want, nor expect my President to allow “strangers” into my Country home until he reasonably feels they are safe. I want and expect him to protect me and my family! We send an astronomical amount of money (which we don’t have, by the way) to these countries in aid. This is our love for them. WE are NOT heartless. We are NOT disobeying our Christian calling or duty. No, in fact, we are holding up our Christian calling, or Moral calling in protecting our families until we know it is safe, at the same time, sending aid as best we can. It is not our fault if the leaders of those Countries won’t accept it or misuse it. We do what we can. We love them in the way that we can, that is not harmful to our own. That’s what God asks us to do. I resent deeply those that would call me unchristian-like or saying I don’t love because I believe we should vet our incoming visitors better. But loving and protecting our families FIRST is what God tasks us with doing.
    I’m sorry, BJ – you asked for our opinions. This is what I fervently believe deeply in my soul, after and through continued prayer on this issue.

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    1. Thank you for feeling free to express your opinions and I understand that these are all very real concerns that need to be addressed. The problem is, for the most part they are based on misinformation that I have seen floating around. Please don’t take my response as an argument against you but rather an address to these points of falsehood that have cause many good, godly, loving people to have a fear not based on fact.

      “There is NO Muslim Ban. Pres. Trump’s EO places a temporary stop to refugees coming into the US from 7 Countries only – the SAME 7 countries that Pres. Obama named in his ban.”
      This is true that it is not specifically a Muslim ban but rather a temporary ban on six countries and an indefinite ban on Syria. However, many of these countries are the ones from which most Muslims entering as refugees would come from. No need to ban Indonesian refugees… there aren’t any. Also there is a provision within that exempts those of minority religions within these states. So only Muslims from these seven countries are being banned. Granted, if a primarily Christian of Buddhist country was added to this list this would not be true. Finally, Obama compiled this list not for a ban but as countries that negate visa waivers. Basically, people from some countries (like Canada, the UK…) can come to America without needing visas. However, if a Canadian had at any time traveled to one of these seven countries then he would still be required to get a visa before coming to America. Sounds reasonable, right? The purpose for which Obama made the list is vastly different from the use Trump is giving it.

      “As President of the United States, Donald Trump has a first priority job of protecting Its citizens. Just like a mother or father has the first priority of protecting their child. I lock the doors of my home and my auto, and don’t allow ANYONE to enter until I “vet” them and feel they are safe.”
      There already is an incredibly vigorous process for vetting refugees. This is that process…

      I understand why someone not intimately aware of these issues would say what you have said, but those political leaders and talking heads who continue to call this process unsafe are lying to you.
      “This is our love for them. WE are NOT heartless. We are NOT disobeying our Christian calling or duty. No, in fact, we are holding up our Christian calling, or Moral calling in protecting our families until we know it is safe”
      How would you interpret James 2:14-17, 1 John 3:16-18, 1 John 4:7-21 (esp vs 18) and Luke 14:25-33 with regards to the refugee crisis?

      Like

  7. There’s sooo many factors to this ban. It is truly multifaceted. Donald trump has said all along one of his biggest concerns is bringing jobs back to American citizens. If you go to the institute for immigration studies you can read about how immigration both legal and illegal negatively effects the availability of jobs. Conversely less immigration positively effects labor markets. Since many immigrants take jobs that place them in direct competition with minorities already facing struggles for those same jobs. (Not my opinion, actual statistical evidence supporting this). As far as terrorism, again read mark krikorians report on open door. He is the executive director of center for immigration studies since 1995. There’s much supporting evidence for why a ban is beneficial and important for both keeping us safe and improving the economy. As Christians we are told to love and care for our neighbors, we’re also told to be discerning. Making smart decisions that puts us in a better position to help those in need. Unfortunately there is an ugly side to setting boundaries. In my home my kids don’t want to hear “no”, or that certain things aren’t allowed. But in the end it’s for their good, their safety, their betterment. They may not understand it now, but eventually they will see how those boundaries were important for their development.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The American families who have lost a loved one at the hands of refugees think differently

    Perhaps you should stop for a moment and feel “their” pain and loss

    All we have seen and heard is the poor refugees

    With all of you defending them and going against the American Families

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a pause on immigration till our “elected” politicians can find a way to properly vet the refugees coming into our Country

    We are trying to prevent the crimes of rape and murder against our daughters and our sons that we have already witnessed here and abroad

    Finding this method of prevention should not cause anyone this type of distress and protest

    This type of such willingness to just be so lax that we allow the enemy to walk right in to our neighborhoods and commit crimes is ludicrous

    Obama banned all the Iraqi people in 2011 from entering the US for 6 months

    Obama banned all the Cuban people from entering the US 2017 just before he left office

    Which by the way still stands

    Fact Check:
    WET FOOT/DRY FOOT

    Why no outrage over these bans?

    It makes you all look like nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites

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    1. “The American families who have lost a loved one at the hands of refugees think differently”
      What families? What loss of life? Since 9/11 there have been more than 750,000 refugees who have made their way through the very stringent vetting process that takes more than two years to come to America. There has not been a single terrorist attack by any of these. Not one.
      This is the process that Trump has declared unsafe. Notice nine different tiers of vetting along the way by multiple agencies. How is it unsafe?
      https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2015/11/20/infographic-screening-process-refugee-entry-united-states
      Please don’t hide bigotry behind the thin veil of “prevent the crimes of rape and murder against our daughters and our sons” at best, it is ignorant. At worst it is a bold faced lie.

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  9. I do agree with you in that there are some concerns with the speech, though it is a typical speech for such a diverse crowd. However, the part about “registering as a Muslim” – I don’t think this actually contradicts Christianity. The word Muslim simply means “devoted one”, and many Muslims that have become Christians still refer to themselves as Muslim (OK, that is going by what I’ve learned in my World Missions class at Moody Bible Institute – a few years ago, but I have no reason to not believe it’s truth. However, as you are someone who may have first hand knowledge, I’ll leave it to you to verify). They simply become a Muslim who follows Issa (Jesus).

    That said, I do have a problem with the whole “many names” ending of her prayer. I agree with you, there is only one God and he is vastly different than Allah or Budha or any Hindu god.

    But, I do think that the “ban” goes against Jesus’ teaching. I’m against it. I’m against the rhetoric spewed from the WH. Just my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have known some among Turkish and Kurdish converts to say that, but always in the course of conversation and with clarification. They would say something along the lines of “now I am a true Muslim, submitted to Isa.” I have never heard one make the statement and let it stand on its own. I would be very shocked to do so.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. My first question to you is; have you read the Quran? I have not so I won’t pretend to say I know what it says. Second; the Bible is full of violence as well. Would you like to get stoned for working on the Sabbath? So many (well intentioned) people have opinions and have no idea what they are talking about.

    Registering ANY group smacks of Nazi Germany. My mother was 9 when the war broke out in Germany. One time she and her mother had to pick up blown up body parts from her front yard. My grandfather chopped off his trigger finger so he wouldn’t have to fight in a war he didn’t believe in. They lived in constant fear and they were not Jewish. Do you want to live in a country that is capable of that? If you think that disgusting behavior couldn’t happen here…think again. Just look how some Americans are behaving right now.

    Would I register as a Muslim to make a point? I don’t know.

    What I do know is I lived in a neighborhood where a few Muslim families lived and they were always kind to me.

    America is all about immigrants and for those who think it isn’t, then they need to get on the next plane out of here unless they are Native Americans. We (white people) stole this land from them claiming it was our “Manifest destiny.” Whoever thought that line up was anything but Christian. They, like so many others pretended to use religion as the reason for their bad behavior.

    Those in power, who run our government are very good at figuring out how to control the masses and one of the most efficient way is through fear. Have you heard about the “divide and conquer” strategy? It works every time. It worked keeping the Chinese migrants and whites separate by creating laws to keep them apart. They did the same thing with Whites vs. Blacks.

    Every immigrant has faced discrimination since we stole America from the American Indian and it doesn’t look like its going to stop anytime soon. Unless we wake up and work together. I don’t care which God someone worships. I don’t care if they worship a God at all. Their religious belief is none of my business.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “My first question to you is; have you read the Quran? I have not so I won’t pretend to say I know what it says.”
      Yes. I have read it through once a year with this being my fourth year doing so. I also read the Bible through three times a year.

      “Second; the Bible is full of violence as well. Would you like to get stoned for working on the Sabbath? So many (well intentioned) people have opinions and have no idea what they are talking about.”
      This is true. For example, the attempt to compare random examples of violence from a Bible that is cover to cover primarily about redemption with the predominant theme of violent vengeance found throughout the Quran is an example of cluelessness.

      “Do you want to live in a country that is capable of that?”
      Actually, I do. I live in Southeast Turkey and the way they treat their Kurdish minority is just abhorrent. I also am working daily among Syrian refugees. One of the girls in second grade has major scarring on the right side of her face and ear. Nearly all of the kids have personal memories and scars that cut just as deep though not as visible.

      “America is all about immigrants and for those who think it isn’t, then they need to get on the next plane out of here unless they are Native Americans.” This sentence is best formed in past tense. What we have been doing lately is more on the lines of brain drain than immigration. We take the best and brightest from other nations while telling the poor, desperate, and hungry, “Keep out.”

      “Those in power, who run our government are very good at figuring out how to control the masses and one of the most efficient way is through fear.”
      I truly wish we could solely blame those in power for the racism and discrimination that has been so much a part of America’s past and present. Unfortunately, we all are culpable. I have seen first hand through growing up in a mixed race family just how prevalent it still is even to this day. Racism is born of ignorance. As long as we continue to keep our doors closed to others we will remain ignorant of them and our racism will continue to breed into another generation.

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