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We are all Syrian. We are all Muslim.

The last nine days have been a disquieting and dizzying display of presidential action in Mr. Trump’s first days in office. It is difficult for us to find focus as he occupies the media space railing about the size of the inauguration crowd and making unsubstantiated claims regarding voter fraud. From a public policy perspective, there is much to worry about: news blackouts from federal departments, possible trade wars, and comments about illegal torture to name a few.

However, Friday’s executive order to halt immigration from seven Muslim countries, including the suspension of refugees from war-ravaged Syria, is an affront to our sense of fairness and equity. Indeed, the president even stated that our nation would give preferential treatment to Christians over Muslims, thereby invoking a religious standard for entry that is anathema to our national creed. Fanning the fears of 9/11 and ISIS, the president wants us to believe that we will be safer because we change who we are as a people who welcome the immigrant and the refugee. But we are the nation of the Marshall Plan, Famine Relief and Tsunami recovery. Our dark chapters of the last century include Franklin Roosevelt’s executive order 9066, which interred Japanese Americans because of their ethnicity. This is too eerily familiar. Surely we have learned from our past and discovered the better angels of our nature.

As a Christian and a bishop, I have struggled with Trump’s quick claims of his own Christian identity, which seem at odds with his sexist behavior, his dishonesty, and his ostentatious consumption and wealth. But I now know what “America First” means to him and I cannot be silent. America First means the exercise of power and selfishness of which I want no part. These actions will give fodder and strength to those who wish to do us harm. We are at our best as a nation when we give. We are strong when we have appropriate boundaries and an open heart. The truth of the Christian life is indeed part of our national story: it is in giving that we receive.

After 9/11, the French paper, La Monde, ran a headline that declared: “Nous sommes tous Americains,” “We are all Americans.” In the spirit of the Confessing Church of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that stood against Nazi Germany, this follower of Jesus Christ can only stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from other nations and other faiths who are refugees. On this day, we are all Syrian. We are all Muslim.

President Trump’s actions are unacceptable and un-American. They do not represent who we are as a people. We must recover our senses. It is time to speak out in the name of all faiths and our national identity as a people united in our diversity. That is our gift to the world.


Category: #Bishop's Blog

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5 replies to “We are all Syrian. We are all Muslim.

  1. Patty Campbell | on February 1, 2017

    Dear Bishop Mathes,

    Thank you for your courage in speaking out against the Trump regime. All Christians should be as strong in standing up to this anti-American dictator.


    Patty Campbell, St. John’s, Fallbrook

  2. Willo Fuhr | on February 2, 2017

    Dear Bishop Mathews,

    We receive The Abundant Life newsletter from The Church of St. Paul in the Desert as we worship there when we visit our son in Palm Springs.

    I want to thank you for speaking out about the situation we are finding ourselves in since the recent election.

    I pray that others will join you by having the courage to speak their heart.

    I took the liberty of posting it on Facebook.

    God bless you.
    Willo Fuhr
    Emmanuel Episcopal Church
    Hastings Michigan

  3. Chuck Herr | on February 4, 2017

    Your comments about the politics of the day, regardless of your opinions, have no place in the church. You will split the church between red and blue. Stick to preaching the Gospel!

  4. Larry Angione | on February 5, 2017

    I find it abhorrent for a Christian clergyman to enter into the realm of political discourse. Where is our historical separation of church and state?
    Our precious Lord has taught us that this world is broken. However, we should be praying for all people to see God’s plan for them, not to publicly condemn one’s actions, especially in political matters.
    Further, to incite christians to “speak out” against a sitting president is not a Godly act. We are called to make the light of the Lord shine through us for all to see and to console those who are in pain.

  5. Peter Bergstrom | on February 5, 2017

    Thank you Jim, for encouraging all of us to stand up and oppose this very sad and frightening direction President Trump and his congressional supporters are taking our country.

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