“When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him. You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the Lord, am your God. ” (Leviticus 19: 33-34)
I have used the above quote from Leviticus in a previous quote, but unfortunately, it remains relevant to current events. And I am speaking about comments made by Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, on prohibiting persons of the Muslim faith from entering this country. And he does not seem to distinguishing between Muslims from a specific geographic location, and all Muslims. His statement has set off a firestorm of comments, both in the media, and blogosphere! Many comments were highly critical of Mr. Trump’s opinion, accusing him of violating America’s high ideals.
The sad truth is that since America’s earliest beginning’s, there has been an undercurrent of religious intolerance in the country’s history. As far back as Puritan Boston, when Quakers were persecuted; even hung, like Mary Dyer, for their beliefs. Baptists and Evangelicals were discriminated against in the state of Virginia, in the newly born United States. Mormons were, attacked, murdered, and were driven out to the frontiers of the Republic. There has always been a subtle discrimination against persons of the Jewish faith. And Catholics should remember the fierce opposition to believers of our faith existed in this nation. Some of the early state constitutions had amendments that prohibited persons who “swore allegiance to a foreign ruler (i.e.; the Pope,)” from holding public office. Catholic schools, orphanages, and convents were attacked at times during urban riots. When the great waves of Catholic immigrants started coming to our shores, the fear mongering grew to fever pitch. A nativist party, founded in the 1800’s, and known popularly as the “Know Nothings”; with the aim of preventing immigration of German and Irish Catholics, and limiting the access to the political system only to Protestants. We have grown as country, and religious liberty is enshrined in both our Constitution, and the body politic. There have been and always will be tensions as we continue to explore what the ideal of religious liberty and tolerance means in a modern society that has both religious and secular segments to it.
Persons, such as Mr. Trump, are threatening that ideal, by playing to the fears of terrorism that is afflicting our country right now. Michael Sean Winters, of the National Catholic Reporter, in an interesting recent post on this issue. In the last few paragraphs, he speaks about the real threat of terror. The real threat is not the death and destruction terrorists can inflict, but the changes they can cause in a society. When out of fear, they cause a society, like the U.S., to abandon its ideals of personal freedom, of openness to all faiths, for severe, hard-handed security practices, and make us an armed camp. When it causes a nation to demonize a whole religion; a whole people, and discriminates against them; then the terrorist wins.
To stand up to terrorism, means to have the courage to remain faithful to those social and political ideals that make us a unique people on the world stage. As a community of believers, we American Catholics need to remember our own immigrant roots, and not give into fear. During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are called to extend mercy; which we experience ourselves, to others. We trust that God’s grace will help us overcome fear and anxiety, and we will welcome the stranger.
3 thoughts on “Welcome the Stranger.”
Thank you for your post. I agree entirely with your message. Here in Australia the same problem arises. However our former Prime Minister (A catholic) made a valid point and he is persecuted for saying it. Previous conflicts were between denominations ie people whose perception of JESUS CHRIST was (ie different, not the same as ours. Persecution of catholics and protestant had both political and other issues) – a bit like the different strands of Islam where they continually take out different ethnic minorities. The big question is this one in our world today. Is Islam (the core the foundation…the very book itself ……deception?).. Not the people………. ie welcome the alien….Love them unconditionally BUT please God and I beg this on my knees, may we NEVER compromise on WHO our Lord Christ is. Allah has 99 names but not one of them is LOVE. Our risen lord IS DIVINE LOVE and we must be prepared to die to not compromise on this our TRUTH. ALL of Abrahams’s children, Arab, Jew, Greek etc etc. will come….but only through the sacrificial death of Christ. Only through the CROSS. Love the people of Islam YES YES YES! but never, never, accept their flawed book. The Bishop of Baghdad saw 20,000- believers slaughtered in Mosul because they would not deny Jesus Christ and accept Islam. Their blood is the reason why the Lordship of Jesus Christ can never be compromised. Thank you and God Bless you in your postings. I personally must stand unflinchingly for the LORDSHIP of JESUS CHRIST not for politics, denominational or political persuasions for HIM alone.
Interesting. My comment could not be registered this morning. Makes me wonder how safe our blog site really are. Thank you for your posting. I will personally never compromise on the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He died for ALL. We must welcome the alien but never, never deny Christ.
What a great piece. I purposefully avoid the media for several reasons so reading this, I appreciate your honesty and straightforwardness. And I agree that as, not only American Catholics, but Americans in general, we must remember our immigrant roots especially considering this country was a safe haven for those seeking religious freedom from persecution in Europe. It’s a shame how people like to put others in boxes with labels. Every culture, religion, group of people, etc. have their fair share of good and bad representatives. Thank you for your article.