Benjamin Perry is a Presbyterian minister. He received his Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, where he works as the Deputy Director of Communications and Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at @FaithfullyBP.
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My Country Stole the Dreams of Carlos Hernandez Vasquez
Too often, we discuss immigration as if migrants were objects, not subjects in their own journey. Individual stories disappear into the rhetoric of “tens of thousands,” retreating into statistics’ deadening numb. Lost, too, is the depth of migrants’ faith; the courage to sojourn as a stranger in unknown lands, fueled by longing for a loving future.
The Trump Iconography Permeating the Social Media Underground
While, obviously, not everyone who spreads these memes is endorsing violence, its undeniable that some of the president’s supporters view them as a roadmap for the kind of radical action they believe it will take to “make America great again.” Cesar Sayoc, for example, affixed this very image to the window of his van before he mailed bombs to news outlets, Democratic politicians, and former government officials. And the truth, more broadly, is that we communicate much by what we find “humorous.” Even though many who traffic such imagery would never mail bombs, it strains credulity to say they are entirely disconnected from support for a president who openly wishes he could order the military to rough up migrants at the border, or who endorsed violence against protesters at campaign rallies.
The Problem Is Sinful Masculinity, Not Effeminacy
Rigid gender performance is a cultural construct, not a divine decree. Truly, if we are created in the image of God, we are made to transgress narrow definitions of “masculine” and “feminine” behavior. The God of Scripture is neither male nor female, transcending human conceptions of gender altogether. Though frequently referred to with masculine pronouns, at other times God is described in the feminine, as a comforting mother (Isa 66:13) or a hen guarding her brood (Luke 13:34). As Patrick Cheng notes in Radical Love, “God is fundamentally queer,” breaking through any human attempt to restrict God’s gender expression — this is also why Morse’s attempt to lift Jesus up as masculine exemplar rings so hollow; if God and Jesus are one, then Jesus’ “maleness” is purely incidental.
Our Government Is Deliberately Inflicting Suffering on Asylum Seekers
Twelve days before Christmas, 7-year-old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin died from dehydration eight hours after she was apprehended by border patrol. While this is a horrible tragedy, the harrowing truth is that that her death (and the deaths of many other migrants) is the logical outcome of our nation’s immigration policy decisions. According to an unclassified government report obtained by ABC News, Maquin’s death appears to have been one of four people who died this crossing the border month, and one of more than 260 this year.
The Abuse of Asylum Seekers Is the Real Assault on Christmas
On Sunday, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents launched tear gas at parents and children seeking asylum. Far from an isolated incident, this is just the latest outrage in ongoing military escalation.
An Administration of Dehumanization
These attacks on people’s innate dignity and sacred worth assault our most cherished moral and religious values. We read in Genesis that all people are made in the image of God. In Paul’s letters, he proclaims that in God earthly divisions fall away, that all people form part of God’s body. Jesus himself promises: Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me. Attempts to excuse human rights abuses committed against some people are thus not just unconstitutional — they assault God by denigrating and desecrating that divine, indwelling spark.
Touching the Wound
Last week, I joined a delegation of 14 women faith leaders, organized by Faith in Public Life, to speak with refugees and community activists about our government’s treatment of immigrants at the border. We went expecting to encounter a community’s pain, but I don’t think any of us were prepared for the trauma we found, nor the fierce resistance of those standing up for migrants’ humanity.
A New Level of Mainline Activism on Climate Change
Starting today, Presbyterian activists are walking from denominational headquarters in Louisville, Ky., to the PC(USA_ General Assembly in St. Louis, Mo., to pressure delegates at the assembly to divest all of the denomination’s fossil fuel holdings. It’s a bold, dramatic action within a denomination that’s often better known for being decent and in order, than for causing a stir.
Timid Modifications to Gun Laws Are Not Enough
On Friday, The Cut published a reflection from Parkland shooting survivor Carly Novell, in which she describes her hours-long experience cowering in a closet. On its own, her story is harrowing — the kind of trauma no child should endure. The kicker, though, is that Novell’s grandfather was also forced to hide in a closet as his parents were murdered during a 1949 shooting in Camden, N.J. Separated by 69 years, the bone-chilling similarity of their experience is a devastating indictment of a nation that has tacitly accepted ubiquitous bloodshed.
Donald Trump Won't Celebrate Christmas. Here's Why
Let’s accept Trump’s challenge to “bring back Christmas” — let’s live into God’s love that unites the poor, welcomes the stranger, and frees the oppressed. Let us repent, and kneel before the manger to embrace a poor and refugee Christ. Let us get up and work for a world that will not condemn and crucify him.
5 Members of Interfaith Delegation Blocked from Boarding Flight to Israel
On Monday, five members of an interfaith delegation traveling to Israel/Palestine were prevented from boarding their flight. The reason? Their public criticism of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. “Very quickly we were given a list of names by the airline of people who were not allowed to board,” Alana Krivo-Kaufman from Jewish Voice for Peace told Sojourners. “They were instructed by Israeli immigration to not allow us to board the plane.”
Christian Hospitality in the Face of Mass Deportation
“Even if you’re not a Christian,” Leupold said, it should concern everyone “that we have moved to proto-fascist, race-based decision making.” As much as he sees Trump’s enthusiasm for deportation as a universal source of disquiet, Leupold said that Christians, in particular, should feel compelled to act in light of the Bible’s clear message: “Jesus said, ‘go out and love one another,’ he didn’t say, ‘go and seek racial purity in your community.” The parable of the Good Samaritan, he noted, didn’t include a section where “the Samaritan went up and checked the ID of the guy laying by the side of the road.”