“NO” IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE. I said it recently to a U.S. Capitol Police officer when he asked me to stop praying the rosary for immigrant children and to move. He then arrested me for “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding” in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building in D.C.
That day the police arrested 71 Catholics. In the parlance of Christian nonviolence, we brought the spiritual power of our prayer to a site of mortal sin—specifically the offices of powerful lawmakers who support, through cowardly and often deliberate consent, caging immigrant children. The border patrol apprehended 69,157 such children at the U.S.-Mexico boundary between October 2018 and July 2019, seven of whom have died after being in federal custody.
What is the significance of Catholics and other Christians saying “no”? At its most authentic, religious faith builds moral muscles that push the human species to become more generous and just and guard against it backsliding into barbarity. While shallow religion shapes people for instinctive compliance to authority, ecclesial and secular, a deep faith tradition trains for moral discernment and formation of conscience and provides a narrative for how to resist immoral actions.