By Matthew G. Johnson
Recently, an interpretation of the Bible by Attorney General Jeff Sessions found itself in the spotlight.
Quoting Romans 13 out of context as a justification to do as he wishes, Sessions attempted to justify his decision to separate children from their families who are seeking amnesty at the southern border of our country. His rationale is deeply flawed. His decision is evil and immoral and must be stopped.
As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I hold that the fundamental work of faith is to fulfill the words of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release of the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The Gospel of Jesus offers to each of us the fullest and best of what we truly need. If our actions are not working to fulfill this call of bringing God’s Kingdom to Earth, we are not living out the truth of the Gospel. The actions of the Trump administration have increased oppression, taken freedom and destroyed lives. To attempt to justify such actions with Scripture is appalling and borders on heresy.
We have lost our sense of caring for those around us. We have begun to buy into the lie that we, as lawful citizens of the United States of America, are the only ones who truly matter.
Even more, we have decided that people of color have less standing. These viewpoints are wrong. They reflect an unwillingness to see the image of God that lives within every human person.
Our practices that allow discrimination, racism, sexism and oppression destroy and ignore the beauty of God that dwells within the other. The current situation at the border is not simply enforcing the law or acting in the interest of national security — it is a discriminatory practice that harms children and brings trauma into their already stressful lives.
We must reclaim our responsibility and compassion for all people, regardless of their nation of origin.
In our United Methodist baptismal vows, we promise three things: We renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness and reject the evil powers of the world; we accept the freedom and power God gives to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves; we join our lives with the church that God has opened to people of all ages, nations and races.
Currently, Attorney General Sessions, a lifelong United Methodist, is violating the vows made at his baptism. If we remain silent in the face of evil and do not speak out, we are doing the same.
I call on our elected officials, particularly Rep. David McKinley and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, to use their positions of power and influence to stand against this evil. I call on the members of our community, particularly the members of the Christian community, to reject evil, racism, sexism and oppression.
We must be a voice for the voiceless. We must proclaim a new way that lives out the fullness of the Gospel. We must take note of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40 “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it for the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ ”
If we continue to hold children in cages in a detention center, we also hold Jesus there. If we do not speak out, we hold responsibility for the lives that are destroyed and the harm done to children. For God’s sake, end the practice of family separation now.
The Rev. Matthew G. Johnson is a minister at Suncrest United Methodist Church in Morgantown. This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.