The state of our union continues to deteriorate. Today, just as the United Methodist General Board released a statement opposing military deployments to the southern border, a United Methodist minister and a Baptist minister were ejected from a Boston event on (ironically) religious freedom featuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
After reciting Matthew 25:42-43, the minister was met with boos and shouts of “GO HOME!”
Sessions then referred to the words from the Bible as an “attack.”
The video is chilling if it portrays what I fear it does portray: that Trump’s abduction and dislocation of the Republican party can (and perhaps, sadly, already has) spread to the church. Now, admittedly, this was not a crowd of religious leaders, but rather of (mostly) libertarian lawyers. Still, how odd to watch an audience of lawyers at an event in support of religious liberty boo at the words of the Bible and at the act of reciting them.
In light of the events in Pittsburgh and in Kentucky targeting religious communities, following on the heels of the most expansive assassination attempt in US history and the escalating rhetoric around immigration and the free press, we must be watchful and mindful as we pass each of the signposts on the road to Hell. Soon, it will be too late to turn back.
Here is a rough transcript of the exchange (video below):
Methodist Minister: "I was hungry and you did not feed me. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me. I was naked and you did not clothe me. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.” Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist I call upon you to repent, to care for those in need, to remember that when you do not care for others, you are wounding the body of Christ.
Sessions: Well, thank you for those remarks and attack, but I would just tell you we do our best every day to fulfill my responsibility to enforce the laws of the United States.
Baptist Minister: But if I may, brother Jeff, [inaudible] …
Audience Member(s): GO HOME! GO HOME!
Baptist Minister: … [inaudible] in the Methodist Church exercising his free exercise of religion...
... is a person who represents the Christian tradition, the faith that everyone here professes to believe in
Audience Member: How would you know?!
Baptist Minister: … I thought we were here to protect religious liberty…
... You are escorting me out for exercising my religious freedoms. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s very hypocritical for this group of people to be wanting to protect religious freedoms while you are escorting me out.
Jeff Sessions responds to protesters: "I don't believe there's anything in my theology that says a secular nationstate cannot have lawful laws to control immigration ... not immoral, not indecent and not unkind to state what your laws are and then set about to enforce them" pic.twitter.com/oGjtMM67ru