Are we so obsessed with security that we have lost our humanity?

I have been careful not to go full tilt on many things in this administration. The fact is, it really just causes us stress and energy to spend time analyzing it all. I have watched some of my more liberal-minded friends, from the day President Trump was elected, devote copious amounts of time to finding every bad decision or stupid comment the president has made and then finding commentaries about it and post these on social media, as if their rants could expel him. The venom and hate may sound more intellectual than a poorly capitalized tweet, but it’s non-productive, so I have been careful about speaking. I can’t now. When children are separated from families, creating separation and attachment trauma, I cannot remain silent.

1) I am pro-life, and this is a pro-life issue. Not everyone agrees with me, but when you rip children from their parents, who are obviously in a desperate situation anyway or they wouldn’t be trying to cross a border, you purposely create attachment related trauma for them. The younger they are, the worse it is. Unlike abortion, of course, it is possible to recover, but the road can be hard and long, depending on varying factors. Using children as pawns is abhorrent. As a (small voice) of pro-life leadership in this nation, I fully condemn every ounce of this despicable practice and call on our leaders to return these children to their families–with apologies (some money for counseling might be helpful too). This punishment of children does not fit the alleged crime of the parents.

2) Jeff Sessions’ misuse of the Bible to justify this practice is just that: A misuse. The Bible clearly shows that when the law of the land commands something against God’s law, we are to honor the higher law. Here’s some of what God says about these children and families among us:

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against [those] who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:5)

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)

Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

There are a few groups the Bible explicitly speaks about who God’s heart is especially bent toward, to whom we are told to give special care–the orphan, the fatherless, and the widow are the ones we tend to focus on, but the stranger and alien are also included. God is far less concerned with our border wall than we are.

3) Our leaders are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

President Trump said in a tweet today:

He also commented, “I hate the children being taken away.”

Let me be clear: The Democrats are not the ones tearing up families and creating trauma for small children. And no, sir, you do not “hate” the children being taken away since you have the power to stop it in a minute.

A Washington Post article notes that one of the leaders of a “compromise bill” said, “We are fixing family separation within this bill and have made changes to keep children with at least one of their parents.”

This is not a fix. If little Johnny has lived his 5 years on earth with mommy and daddy and daddy gets pulled away and he can’t see him, do we really think, “well it’s okay, he has mommy so he won’t be traumatized.” I implore our leaders to study attachment and trauma. If they need someone to speak to them about it, they should call me. I won’t even charge them for my expertise.

Also, according to the Post:

Because of a 1997 court settlement that bars children from being imprisoned with parents, Justice Department officials now say they have no choice but to isolate the children.

They have a choice. In fact, as the New York Times points out:

Mr. Trump was misrepresenting his own policy. There is no law that says children must be taken from their parents if they cross the border unlawfully, and previous administrations have made exceptions for those traveling with minor children when prosecuting immigrants for illegal entry. A “zero tolerance” policy created by the president in April and put into effect last month by the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, allows no such exceptions, Mr. Trump’s advisers say.

They have chosen to incite fear and terror in children. Abhorrent isn’t a strong enough word, but it’s the best I can do right now.

4) The White House reports that 1995 children have been separated from their parents. That’s an entire small town of children. And that number comes directly from the White House. Who knows when that number was submitted and how many more have been since then? Or if there are more not counted. Let’s face it, this administration has not given much respect to immigrants in general.

5) Securing borders from criminals and terrorists is important, but punishing and oppressing common people to do this is reprehensible. Having just returned from Israel and Palestine, I have seen the long-term damage policies like this have created. Israel has done with this Palestinians, and the only people it benefits are Israelis–often at the expense of children and families. There is such an obsession with securing borders there that even native born Israelis who happen to be Palestinians (born in Jerusalem–legally, I might add, but of Palestinian descent, for example) are denied passports and may even be separated from their families. This has happened with a close friend, whose husband has to live away from the family–his girls grew up without their dad around much of their life, continuing to this day. This happened to a girl from Gaza a few months ago. It’s heartbreaking to realize the pain she went through just from this temporary situation, as she cried, “I want my mother! I don’t want anything else, I just want my mother to be with me.”

We should not aspire to be so obsessed with security that we deny humanity. This is not the will of God for us. Mr. Sessions and Mr. Trump, both of whom invoke the Bible, should know this if they are speaking from the standpoint of truth. And whatever is not true is a lie.

I commend the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as people like Rev. Samuel Rodriguez (who prayed at the president’s inauguration), Franklin Graham, who has been been reluctant to criticize most of the time. Criticism for the sake of complaining and venting is fruitless; however, criticism that calls people to account and leads others to action is righteous. We should all be speaking out against this. It was the Evangelical vote that elected this administration, and now it is violating the word of God, so it is on us to address it or be complicit.

As for Mr. Sessions suddenly choosing to carry out such cruelty to those who cannot speak for themselves, he should resign immediately. There is nothing humane about this policy; there is nothing pro-life about this policy. To destroy secure attachment in innocent children under the guise of national security is destructive to our nation on this side of the border. Then again, the us-four-and-no-more mentality has always been a prison for those who believe it’s right.

Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.  Proverbs 31:8-9

 

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Not ambidextrous, just double-minded

Christians, pro-lifers, we have a heartbreaking problem. Yet again today I encountered a familiar name–a governor, one I’ve written about often. A proclaimed Christian. A pro-lifer. One of the good ones, who has signed incredible pro-life legislation. I have found myself writing stories about these folks and declaring “I LOVE YOU!” at the screen, meaning I love what they are doing and uncompromising truth that comes forth, rallying for LIFE.

And then.

Then the nation turned its focus to education. Hear me. Not to teacher greed and fights against administrators, but to the situations of students, classrooms, materials, texts, heating and air conditioning, mold. The nation has been focused on this–especially with Oklahoma’s recent outcry. Now we have Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, and West Virginia was before Oklahoma. More will be coming, by the way, just watch.

And then we have social programs, such as WIC, prenatal care, housing for the poor. These are lifelines for the women we plead with to keep their babies.

I could make this an incredibly long post. I could detail every pro-life legislator I used to respect, from our local state house, to governors across our nation. And I could show you how ANTI-life some of them are.

See, life is about more than being sure that baby is not aborted. That is the most urgent of crises because it’s happening this moment and waiting even a day could cost a life. I get that and stand behind that. But after she says okay, she will keep her baby, to cut her programs that help her, to reduce budgets for social services, to underfund and reduce funding year-by-year for schools, and to sign pro-life legislation with one hand and then sign away bills that support life with the other makes these leaders not ambidextrous, just double-minded. And the Bible has some things to say about that.

Here in my state, the strongest voice supporting a funded and equal education in our legislature, a hero to us all, is a Democrat. Sadly, he cannot run again due to term limits.  The entire Democratic platform states its pro-abortion rights stance. But then I found out–from a very reliable source who has worked with him–that this man is a practicing Catholic, and is genuinely pro-life. See, real pro-life is wonb-to-the-tomb. You can’t do one without the other. That is the reason we have accusations railed at us that “they only care about the baby being born.” How dare we? What a despicable shame if our definition of pro-life is simply to prevent abortion. That is step one! You cannot be pro-life and support any abortion. You simply can’t. It is never okay to say a child may die.

However, it is also never okay to say now that the child has lived, we’re done. I am ashamed of these leaders who I thought were on my side, who have signed good legislation, such as forbidding abortion because a baby is diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome. Of course no child should die because of this. But many parents of a special needs child will tell you if not for public school programs, their child would not have made as many strides. When you cut funding to schools, when you hire people who aren’t even real teachers and are so shorthanded, then that the one certified teacher you do have is doing all the IEPs and paperwork all day long (because legally she has to), and the children with profound needs are at the hands of someone who doesn’t have any real teaching skill, who is learning on the job with these precious children as guinea pigs. That’s one of a multitude of disastrous examples that should remind legislators they should stop being so proud they signed that important bill to help the child live, as if that were the end. Yes, that was good, but how are you helping the child live now? What sort of programs will you have in place when he turns 21 and can’t have those special services? If you cut those too, he’s stuck. Surprise, a parent can’t do everything for some special needs children without help, especially a parent without a lot of money. And those poor women are the ones who often go for abortions–and are recruited by Planned Parenthood, I might add, especially minorities. What promise of life can our state, our nation, give these people?

What about those kids in foster care? DHS is both underfunded and shorthanded? To call yourself pro-life and cut these areas that serve and help children is plainly immoral.

To be pro-life is to be pro-child.

We can say “the real answer is that state agencies need to be audited” (they do). Or that “school districts (DHS, healthcare agencies) need to trim the fat off the administrative costs and all that money will exist” (we could all use some trimming, just like the legislature, but that’s an exaggeration that all the money will reappear.

We have a tragic problem. I think it’s both political problem and a church problem; the church is in collusion with bad politics and calls it Jesus when He doesn’t endorse such practices either. I cannot in good conscience call myself a Republican based on what I have seen even in my own state. But I clearly cannot back a party who has abortion rights as a key area of its platform, so I am certainly not a Democrat. Nor do I care much about those labels. To me, the only reason to register under one is to vote in primaries.

We need to be genuine Christians who have a big picture of what it means to be pro-life. That means being pro-education, pro-state human services. Look, you guys, I realize that in some states being pro-education and pro-state human services then crosses the Christian’s moral lines. But looking at many of these conservative states that claim, fallaciously, to be Christian, we see that these moral issues don’t come into play–other than the immorality of what we do to children, the elderly, the school system, et al.

In the recent Oklahoma education battle, many Christians condemned the walkout because OEA was a leader of it,and OEA is the state affiliate of NEA. That much is true. But what no one who cried moral foul ever pointed out was that 1) OEA has no power over Oklahoma schools because they are not unionized. 2) There has been zero debate over issues that compromise Christianity in the walkout; this has been about basics, not sex ed, questionable curriculum, or anything else like that. 3) Thousands of the teachers and principals–and superintendents–these people who supported it–were not even OEA members or supporters. But some threw away the whole movement because NEA has some ideas of propagating perversion. Know what? It DOES. But NEA isn’t running these non-unionized schools. Are we so narrow minded that we cannot critically think and understand the real issue? I read ministry letters that discussed the walkout and had the facts wrong! Things I knew first hand were reported inaccurately and a whole argument was based on it.

Christianity is about truth, about living an upright life that emulates Jesus. That means not hindering children–in the womb or out. It means speaking truth, whether that is getting the facts, not hiding behind a ghostwriter that we never give credit to but “we always wanted to write a book” or anything else morally questionable. We are to be above reproach, not walking the blurry line of “how far can I go?” The whole WWJD movement wasn’t really a bad idea as far as how we should think. Would Jesus choose to support the oil and gas industry that gave top dollar in election donations over being sure kids who are educated in 105 degree heat are allowed a working air conditioner or books that actually discuss 9-11 because they were published after 2001? Really? Do we have to ask this?

I considered running for state representative this year. My current representative is infamous in our state for being anti-education–despite coming from a family of educators. He likes to vote for positive teacher bills, but will never actually vote to fund these bills because “I have to do right by [the oil and gas industry”; he said that. But if I were elected, unlike some representatives, my job is such that it would be a conflict-of-interest, so I would lose it run for representative I would lose my job, and I know I am making an impact where I am as well and this is not the time to do that. But Christians, if you have a lick of political sense, and you can actually be wholly pro-life and defend the causes of Jesus, not of rich corporate executives, then please consider running. Whether it’s giant border walls that invest unreal amounts of money to keep the alien and stranger out, rather than simply dealing with lawbreakers as infractions occur, or whether it’s choosing to undertax big business, giving them tax breaks that are so high that the common resident actually suffers, these “Republican” and/or “conservative” ideals are anti-Jesus.

I honestly see that our testimony as Christians is suffering nationwide; no wonder other nations send missionaries to us now! A friend recently made a Facebook post of how we are so quick to overlook and forgive President Trump’s repeated sexual affairs, harassment, indiscretions–and foul language. Yet when we in the church make a negative comment about those issues–or even question the testimony we’re making by publicly supporting these things–we are not forgiven nearly as quickly; in fact, a majority seem to receive anger, criticism, judgement (“why are you persecuting him?”) and all sorts of negative responses–so that forgiveness only seems to extend to one side to most.

I don’t know who you hang out with or how much you see going on in the nation, but because of some unique experiences and perspectives I have, I see a lot. Additionally, I am well-read and well-traveled, with myriad friends on both sides of the aisles, as well as in the crevices. And I can tell you, with confidence, the Christian witness has been compromised, is being compromised. It is very easy for me to understand this “progressive” Christian movement. I disagree with it and know it undermines the gospel, but I see the power to draw people because the heart of Christianity is social justice–life more abundant. Salvation is step one, but we are meant to thrive. When we see leaders in bed with both big business, as well as with women who are not their wives–and we excuse it, many seek a more genuine Christianity. Sadly, some are deceived into thinking a progressive gospel is the answer. It’s not. The gospel is an uncompromising truth and must include an inerrancy of Word of God. But the gospel’s real focus on money is about giving it away and helping others. The gospel is founded on “God so loved that He gave.” The gospel is about letting children and families thrive, of caring for the poor, of loving the unlovable–all without compromising truth. The progressive church compromises truth, but an increasing large chunk of the rest of us compromise the spirit of the gospel. Jesus never put the focus on making more money above caring for people. But you’d never know it listening to my representative who is continually introduced as a “man of faith and family… teaches Sunday school….” It almost would be better not to mention our faith if our proclamations of faith causes others to stumble. I have watched person after person leave all organized religion and churches over the compromise. There is a significant difference between the old line of “They are all hypocrites” and expecting perfection out of imperfect people. That won’t ever happen. But that’s not the same as churches, pastors, leaders, elected officials who name the name of Jesus, saying and doing things, not as mistakes but as a justified lifestyle.

Look, people, I like money too. I am raising money right now–or am trying too–we’re stuck at the moment–for a pro-life trip to help orphans. I am paying down a bazillion dollars of student loans and would love is oil and gas could line my pockets. I work for a very poor state, but I am in a fringe group that does not get raises when there is a “state employee pay raise.” My own boss has been here almost 30 years and he makes only about 5K more than I do in base pay. We don’t get raises. I like raises. I need money. But never at the expense of compromising livelihood. I am not a Socialist. I want to keep what I earn. I don’t like taxes, but if I see that children are suffering and a small tax increase can change that, I care more about those children than I do my pocketbook.  To think that public education doesn’t impact us, when in my state alone 92% of all students are publicly educated is a short-sighted view. These are the people working in our communities, who are our society. Same with social services, Meals on Wheels, you name it.   It is not a Socialist ideology that votes for those who will do the most good for all of society vs. the rich. If the gospel is not about us and our wants, why do we change that when it comes to politics? We can’t–at least not if we think we’re walking in truth.

I challenge you: either be pro-life or don’t, but this lukewarm Christianity movement is making us taste like something the world wants to spit out of their mouth.

At the end of the day, when I try to look through this with the eyes of Jesus. I look long and hard at that Democratic legislator who is pro-life and votes for babies, participates in pro-life marches, etc. (it’s legit to be Democratic at the state level and be pro-life; nationally, it would be impossible to be elected and actually maintain that, sadly), who also supports schools, healthcare (no Planned Parenthood or pro-abortion issues in our state healthcare agenda, by the way, so that one isn’t in play). Sure, he probably has some views that need refining. He has flaws, perhaps flaws in how he upholds some areas of righteousness as we all do. But I think Jesus would see him as a flawed but righteous man trying to legislate. I also think Jesus, from what I know of Him from His own Word, would be much less pleased with the Republican who writes pro-life bills every session but votes against everything that would help other people, especially those moms–and doing so at the expense of profiting the rich, not only in legitimate ways since they worked hard for their money, but literally letting them pay less than anyone else so they will come running to our state–causing us to have the opposite of abundant life due to the catastrophic financial situations we end up living as a society.

There is a reason Jesus said it is easier to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And in American politics, I see it more than ever.

I am grieved to my core when I see leaders in our states who claim to love Jesus, speak of their faith, and then, apart from the “big two” issues of faith that merge with government, do everything to undermine the heart of God for the people they are elected to serve, lead, or minister to.

When the history books are rewritten and public schools can afford to buy them, which chapter will you appear in:

  1. Democrats and their rule in the land?
  2. Republicans and their rule in the land?
  3. Jesus followers and their rule in the land?

Hint: only one is eternal.