In an effort to embody and incarnate our commitment to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and to build a just world for all, the United Church of Christ has called for us all to participate in the Three Great Loves campaign.
One of those three great loves is the love of children. Jesus himself, holding a small child, said that the kin-dom of God belongs to just such as these. He reminded us that whatever we do to the least of these, we do unto him. Marian Wright Edelman, of the Children’s Defense Fund, once said “Any nation that does not stand for its children does not stand for anything.” She has always reminded us that the health and well-being of any nation is never any better or stronger than the health and well-being of the children is it charged with caring for.
Given all of that, we watch the plight of immigrant and refugee children today and we are sickened. Any nation whose policy is or has been to separate children from their parents in order to deter their desire to seek refuge from warfare, hunger, hatred, terror, and worse is not a nation that can claim to have any moral agency. We have bankrupted our moral courage. When challenged by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the United States chose simply to leave the Commission. We have squandered our moral cache and are now seen by the world as a rogue nation with no care or concern for the least of those among us.
The United Church of Christ has not been and will not be silent in the face of this evil. The sights and sounds of children crying and grieving the act of being torn away from parents, some of whom they have not seen for months, has us all shocked. It has engendered a level of rage that will not go unnoticed. We have shouted, raged, marched, protested, written, and agitated in the hopes of being heard and seen and taken seriously.
It has mattered. Powers that constructed this madness have begun to deconstruct it – and for that we should be proud.
But immigrant and refugee families and children are still not welcome or safe here – and many who were separated are still waiting to be reunited. Whatever victories our agitation has won for them, it is far from enough.
And so – stay engaged on this. Fight for the children. Do not let their cries fall on deaf ears. Leaders across this denomination will continue to leverage our full capacity to engage the powers that be in the hopes of justice coming; and with the full intent to be faithful to our call to love the children and build for them a just world.
Rev. John C. Dorhauer is General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ.
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