Hope They’re Wearing Flame-Proof Vestments

I seem to recall that Bishop Tobin made a few mild statements in defense of immigrants and the ProJo letters page blasted him for it. But a brave group of clergy is giving it another try…

The Rhode Island State Council of Churches will release on Monday a 2,600-word document developed over the course of a year by the council’s Faith and Order Commission.

The document starts with a reminder to both Jews and Christians that Abraham, the first patriarch of the Hebrews, had been “called by the Lord” to emigrate from his homeland, and that Jews were constantly admonished in the Scriptures not to “wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Similarly, it says, it speaks of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman as an example of reaching out to people across ethnic lines, and points to his admonition that punishment will go to those “who do not feed the hungry or clothe the naked.”

“All the Christian denominations in the U.S. are immigrant churches. The history of our churches is a mixed record, though, and many of us have apparently forgotten our origins,” the statement laments.

At the very beginning of his term, President George W. Bush met with President Vincente Fox of Mexico, to discuss immigration. That was abandoned when Fox refused to join the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ in the Iraq war. The Republican Party, unfortunately, has never stood up to those under its big tent who blame immigrants for all our problems.

For the clergy to issue a statement, even a late and mild one, shows moral courage. They’ll face criticism, but that’s their job, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

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