American Baptist Churches USA Call Out Sessions on Scriptural Blasphemy Regarding Zero-Tolerance Policy

U.S. Border Patrol agents take into custody a father and son from Honduras near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12 near Mission, Texas. | John Moore/Getty Images

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 6/16/18)—Lee B. Spitzer, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA, published on June 15 a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in response to Sessions’ remarks which cited Romans 13 as justification for practices such as separating children from their parents in immigration cases. American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico. The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Attorney General Sessions,

I am writing to you today on behalf of the 5,000 congregations and 1.3 million members of the American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA). As General Secretary, I serve as the national pastor of the denomination. ABCUSA has a long and distinguished record of service in welcoming immigrants and refugees to communities throughout the United States.

The American Baptist family would like to communicate our deep concern over the unjust immigration policies of the United States government, and in particular, the unconscionable separation of children from their parents on our southern border. As a fellowship of Christ-followers who recall the trials of the child Jesus and his parents, who fled from persecution in their homeland to another country (Matthew 2:13-18), we adamantly oppose separating children from their relatives. A just society can fulfill its fidelity to its own laws and border security without resorting to such unwise and harmful practices; instead, we urge that compassion, fairness and family-affirming policies characterize our response to the plight of families on our borders. We note that destructive practices such as the separation of children from parents place a serious burden on our law enforcement agents and officials, who in carrying out such policies find their own consciences ethically compromised and troubled.

Furthermore, we strongly disagree with your erroneous appropriation of the New Testament (in particular, Romans 13) to justify inhumane and unjust governmental actions. No responsible Christian theologian would assert that Romans 13, or any other passage in the Bible, supports the horrific separation of children from parents that we are witnessing at the present time. In fact, both the Old and New Testaments call those who believe in God to welcome refugees and immigrants with open arms and friendship, with loving care and concern, and with the willingness to assist others in enjoying the prospects of a future based on hope and opportunity.

Accordingly, American Baptists wish to express our sincere hope that the separation of children and parents will immediately cease. We urge Congress and the President to approve and implement without delay more compassionate and just immigration policies and procedures. As the leading law enforcement official of our government, it is your privilege and responsibility to lead such an effort. Thank you for considering our position.

Sincerely,
Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, General Secretary?American Baptist Churches USA

The letter can be downloaded here.

Honoring Santo Toribio, the “Holy Coyote”

by Robert Lentz

At Mass this morning at St. Camillus, Friar Erick Lopez preached a wonderful homily about St. Toribio Romo, known as the “Holy Coyote” or Santo Pollero for how he helps migrants cross the border between Mexico and the U.S. (He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000.) We were even more blessed at Mass to have a new icon in the church. It’s a stunning painting by Brother Robert Lentz of none other than St. Toribio Romo. (Take note of the army surplus store canteen for bringing water to those crossing the desert and the saint also has muddy shoes.) I trust the U.S. Catholic bishops are praying mightily to St. Toribio for help passing comprehensive immigration reform and a seven-year path to citizenship. Here’s the gist of the popular stories still told about Santo Toribio:

Located about two hours from Guadalajara and near the town of Jalostotitlan, the village (of Santa Ana) consists of a few houses, fertile land for planting, and the temple where the martyr is venerated.Saturday is the most popular visiting day of the faithfulIn the makeshift parking lot (by the temple) one sees autos with United States licenses, but with Mexican owners. In one of them Otilio (Othello) has traveled here, a brown-skinned young man wearing cowboy boots and a Texan hat. He comes from Nevada in order to see the saint, who just little more than a year ago, helped him cross the border. “A friend and I left Jalostotitlan with the intention of working in the United States, but when we were close to the border, we were assaulted and beaten up. They (the robbers) took all our money, and we were disheartened. We didn’t have any money left to pay the “pollero;” not even enough to pay for our passage back home. Suddenly, an auto stopped beside us, and a priest invited us to get in. We told him about what had happened to us, and he told us not to worry. He would help us cross the border. And he did. As we were getting out of his car, he gave us some money and told us to look for work in a nearby factory. We would get hired there.” Continue reading “Honoring Santo Toribio, the “Holy Coyote””