Tucked up near the Austrian border, about 160 miles from Budapest, is a small Hungarian town of 12,000 people. It’s a quiet place about three and a half hours, and two trains rides, from Hungary’s capital.
But the community has been split by the decision of the local Catholic parish priest, the Rev. Zoltan Nemeth, to allow some asylum-seekers to take shelter in a church building.
Sincere love during these times means offering sanctuary for the sojourner, risking our congregations, and even putting our bodies on the line — knowing that our true citizenship is in the Kingdom, where no one is illegal and all are loved.
Pope Francis used his traditional Easter Sunday message to call the bombing of a refugee convoy near Aleppo, Syria, a “despicable attack”, and urged world leaders to “prevent the spread of conflicts” despite mounting tensions in Syria and North Korea.
In his Easter blessing, known as “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”), the pope urged the faithful to remember “all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine, and oppressive regimes.”
In the midst of so much death, how can we Christians celebrate Easter?
These questions can be paired with questions regarding our own sense of worship on that day. How much have we Christians replaced justice with worship, not taking one into serious relation with the other? Are we accustomed to worship in the total absence of justice?
For the first time, a majority of Americans has voiced concern about violence against Jews, polling by the Anti-Defamation League shows.
While 52 percent of Americans surveyed said they are disturbed about such violence, an even higher percentage — 76 percent — said they are concerned about violence against Muslims.
It was her desire to hear the stories of real people — “not just faceless refugees or immigrants” — that brought the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton to a refugee resettlement agency that provides a range of services to refugees in the Chicago area.
“Especially now, when there’s this fear that’s been stirred up, and anti-refugee sentiment, it’s really critical to say, ‘No, these people are our grandparents, our aunts and uncles,” said the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination.
Christians who refuse to break rank from their political tribes and social circles at the expense of refugees, immigrants, the sick, the poor, the uneducated, the maligned, and the outcast are prioritizing carnal hopes rather than divine promises.
This executive order is strikingly similar to the first order signed by President Trump on Jan. 26, which ordered "extreme vetting" for refugees, indefinitely blocked entry to Syrian refugees, suspended visa issuances to anyone from seven countries, and suspended all refugee entry for 120 days.
The new language signals the Trump administration's intent to put forward an executive order that will stand.
In her sermon on the last Sunday of Black History Month, the Rev. Maria Swearingen preached about her belief that black lives, “queer lives,” and immigrant lives matter.
And since it also was Transfiguration Sunday, she pointed to the story in the Gospel of Matthew where God declared Jesus “beloved.” That is a term, she said, that can be used for everyone.
Real people, with real stories, and real families are trembling in fear for the future of their families and, in some cases, their own lives. For those of us who follow Jesus, our faith must inform our citizenship — not the inverse. It's time for us to ask better questions, seek deeper understanding and accompany our neighbors— whether local or global — who are navigating the scariest moments of their lives.
A survey released last week by the Pew Research Center suggested a very different view of the presidential actions, especially among white Protestant Christians.
There was strong support among white evangelical Protestants, with more than three-quarters (76 percent) saying they approve of the policies outlined in Trump’s order. Among white mainline Protestants, 50 percent approved.
Many Christians now are asking the question Helena Leffingwell of Arlington, Texas – not a pastor or ministry leader, just a regular member of Gateway Church, a nondenominational megachurch – put into words: “How can we see things so differently?”
In Dadaab refugee camp, a researcher recorded a Somali term for the particular feeling of longing for resettlement: buufis, “a kind of depression rooted in an inextinguishable hope for a life elsewhere that simultaneously casts the present into shadow.”
Despite President Trump’s threat of a “Muslim ban” during the 2016 campaign, Hadil Mansoor Al-Mowafak, a 20-year-old international affairs student at Stanford University, was taken aback when he banned travel from seven Muslim countries, including Yemen, where her husband lives.
“I didn’t think it was even possible,” Al-Mowafak said. “I thought he just used the Muslim ban during his campaign, and once he took power he’d face reality.”
True, the executive order, which includes a restriction on travel to the U.S. for nationals of seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days, does not directly refer to followers of Islam. But that doesn’t mean it’s not aimed at them, critics say.
Pope Francis called for greater compassion for refugees and marginalized people less than a week after President Trump ordered a temporary immigration ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
In other comments published Monday, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad also said Trump’s policy of preferential immigration for Christians was a “trap” and would “create and feed” tensions with Muslims.
“We were wrong.”
That’s how former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns summarized one of the most notorious episodes in the history of American refugee policy. In 1939, the MS Saint Louis carried 937 Jewish refugees towards our shores. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration denied the ship access to the U.S. and forced it to return to Europe. A third of the passengers died at Auschwitz and other concentration camps.