U.S. Rep. Ilham Omar, a Somali-American, expressed some partisan criticism and was immediately trashed by a crowd in North Carolina with the chant “Send Her Back,” indicating that she had no right to be in this country.
I was shocked. So UnAmerican, so unChristian, I thought. But my initial conclusions were wrong. While it was still unChristian, it was actually very American. Once the Germans and Scandinavians got in, we quickly slammed the door on the Irish, Chinese, Italians, Czechs, Bulgarians, all of the other people in southern Europe, and now Mexico, Central America and locations south.
Desperate people, high on hope, choked by fear, all scrambling to escape squalid conditions and gang terror in their home countries. But they find no empathy here.
In this land of professing Jesus followers, we turn to Scripture to see how we should treat these unfortunate souls.
Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave or free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 15:7: “Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ accepted us to the glory of God.”
Romans 2:11: “…there is no partiality with God.”
James 2:9: “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
1 Timothy: 5: 21: do nothing in a spirit of partiality.
Some of us think that public discussions ought not include references to our faith. But from our faith we get our values and our values show up in public issues, e.g. abortion, sexual orientation, value of life.
Unfortunately, when it comes to public issues, most Christians consider the Bible as advisory and the teachings of Christ as irrelevant. Ask the chanting “believers” in North Carolina who chose to drive a stake into the heart of a besieged lady for speaking out of turn.
In the name of transparency, maybe we should take another look at the message (“Give me your tired, your poor …”) in the Statue of Liberty, originally written by Emma Lazarus.
Dear Emma, please come back
We need your prose and pen
To correct the message written
For the grand lady in the harbor
Emma, you were much too hopeful
Expecting us to be loving and kind
To those hoping for a new beginning
But, alas, such was not to be
We refused to share our liberty
For 150 years in vain we tried
To welcome those searching souls
Our forefathers among them
Just two generations ago
But, Emma, we must tell the truth
So please pen it the best you can
We don’t want your tired or your poor
Or your huddled masses
Yearning to breathe free
We have no room for them to be
Or the wretched refuse starving
On your teeming shore
Don’t send the homeless, tempest-tost to us
We have put out the lamp of hope
And closed the golden door.
Emma, what is this on your cheek I see
A tear…and another…flowing free
That’s okay, Emma
For God is weeping, too.
Lloyd Omdahl is a former state lieutenant governor and professor at UND.