Rector's Ramblings June 26, 2019
This week the Christian blogosphere and news cycle was filled with news of the how different Evangelicals can be when it comes to news from our southern border. Russell Moore, who is the chief ethicist for the Southern Baptist Convention, an evangelical’s evangelical, was ridiculed by Jerry Falwell, Jr., who now runs his father’s Liberty University. Here’s what transpired on Twitter. Note, I saw this in the news, not on Twitter. I only use Twitter when I’m at General Convention!
Russell Moore tweeted the following earlier this week: “The reports of the conditions for migrant children at the border should shock all of our consciences. Those created in the image of God should be treated with dignity and compassion, especially those seeking refuge from violence back home. We can do better than this.”
Falwell’s response was: “Who are you @drmoore? Have you ever made a payroll? Have you ever built an organization of any type from scratch? What gives you authority to speak on any issue? I’m being serious. You’re nothing but an employee - a bureaucrat.”
Twitter did what it does after Falwell’s tweet, and challenged him for his extremely unbiblical and un-Jesus-like response. “Jerry Falwell” began to trend on Twitter, and not in a good way. Perhaps the best response I saw was from the Twitter account labeled @JesusofNaz316: “Jerry Falwell, Jr does not represent the views or opinions of the staff and management of the kingdom of heaven.” Indeed. The exchange is ironically sad and funny at the same time, but more importantly, it is a deadly serious exchange. Why? Because too many Christians are inclined to challenge a prophetic and faithful approach to a topic because it doesn’t match up with a party line. In this case, it does cost the lives of children.
At the end of the day, we can disagree continually about border policy, immigration policy, and who should be allowed into our country. That’s the way the process works. There should be no place to disagree, however, about what constitutes appropriate care for children in custody. The reports about three hundred kids in a space for 100, underfed, without adequate medical care, without adult supervision for toddlers, some without diapers, should shock our consciences, even if we’re dealing with a raging case of issue fatigue when it comes to the border. It’s not acceptable, no matter how they got here, how we got into this situation, and it should not be allowed to continue.
US Customs and Border Protection has basically acknowledged that they lack the proper funds and facilities and agreed that this situation requires, “humanitarian funding to manage the crisis”. Christians of all stripes and denominations should be exercising their public responsibility to engage the political process to tell our elected representatives to fix this crisis. We don’t have to stake out positions on the wider border debate, just let them know that kids cannot be treated this way in this country, in this day and age. It’s not yet been dealt with, although as of today, we have dueling funding resolutions from the House and the Senate. Perhaps we could set aside our partisan ideas about larger border policies and just agree that we need a solution to this specific problem, and that we need it quickly. It’s not about Republican vs. Democrat; it’s about loving the ones Jesus calls us to love.
Mr. Falwell doesn’t speak for all Christians, thankfully. While I may be on different pages than Mr. Moore on a host of topics, our Christian understanding of a proper response is in sync. We can do better.
Father, you are a defender of the defenseless, protector of the vulnerable, and restorer of broken relationships. Stretch out Your hand to move miraculously and bring resolution to this crisis. Jesus, heal the broken-hearted and bring comfort to all who mourn. Holy Spirit, release divine solutions to our leaders! Break the spirit of division and contention! Let Your Kingdom purpose be advanced! Stop the chaos! Bring order and peace! God of Heaven, give each person Your heart for this situation. Let Your kingdom come! Use us to speak out, act, and represent You to our civic leaders! Bless those who uphold righteousness and justice! Show Your power and Your glory in this situation! In Jesus’ Name! Amen.
(Slightly adapted from Center for National Renewal – bring a flair of the evangelical prayer style to bear.)
Statement from CPB to PBS following their broadcast on the crisis on June 21.