Less than four days after the anti-immigrant El Paso Texas massacre, a church in a very conservative Texas town made themselves a sanctuary for immigrants. And they are ready for any repercussions that may come.
Charlie called me a few weeks ago as I prepped for Politics Done Right. He said he had a secret he wanted me to hold on to until it was all official. The Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church in Woodlands Texas vote y a huge majority to become a sanctuary church.
Last Thursday Charlie called again. “We are ready to go public,” Charlie said. “I want you to cover it.” One had to be excited that this church in an area one would least expect to have one had the courage to do it.
Then there was Saturday. Will, the church get cold feet? The expected outcome of a racist president had become real. A domestic white national terrorist drove hundreds of miles from the Dallas area to murder LatinXes indiscriminately in El Paso Texas. The murderer even had a manifesto that pretty much had immigrants in his crosshairs. How many more of these sane haters are out there seeking targets?
About an hour before the event Charlie called. I was already getting ready to head out to the church. “Are you coming?” he asked. “We have special parking for the media. Just get out there and they will direct you. We will have security there as well.”
While I was getting ready to head out there, I must be honest. I had two thoughts. The first was whether the church was going to go through with it. But the second thought concerned me.
Even before Charlie mentioned security, I was concerned. The church had sent out a press release. Would it trigger a copycat? And that is what terrorism does. It establishes a fear that ordinarily would not be there. It tends to change behavior, its ulterior motive. It did not matter. I was going anyway.
I got there about half an hour early. There was hardly anyone there. One had to be concerned about whether people were fearful to show up. But lo and behold, it went from a trickle to a pouring in of people. And the local TV stations and Houston major newspaper along with other outlets showed up.
This was a dream-come-through for Greg McDonell, the Sanctuary Project Coordinator. His brainchild materialized with the help of countless members of this small Progressive church embedded in a very conservative community. This is Kevin Brady’s territory.
McDonell’s remarks laid out the reasons why their church felt compelled to become a sanctuary. And it was clear he updated his remarks to include the El Paso massacre.
With an estimate of over 500,000 undocumented neighbors in the greater Houston area, with people being arrested for a simple act of offering life giving water to migrants, with children being separated from their parents and caged in “FOR PROFIT” prisons like criminals, when a 21 year old declares that he was out to kill as many Mexicans as he can, demands that we something.
This congregation has overwhelmingly decided to be a Sanctuary Church. This is not an Act of Civil Disobedience but an Act of Obedience to our core values as a faith community. For I have come to believe that only in resistance to evil are we really free. By that I mean, to say NOTHING do NOTHING is to be coopted as a slave into the evil ideology of hatred and fear. So we have chosen to say and do Something in our declaration this morning
Rev. Chuck Freeman went further.
These borders were not established by God. These borders were not ordained by God. These are human-made borders. … We are speaking out from a faith perspective saying we are one human family. And we will not offer incarceration and intimidation. We will offer hospitality and liberation.
Some would see his statement as one that promotes open borders. It is clear in speaking to him that it is more about not letting borders dictate whether one would be treated humanely or not.
We have an evil emanating from our federal government that is led by likely the most corrupt person to sit in the Oval Office. During the time that he remains there people of good faith must do what is necessary to ensure we maintain the humanity of everyone we encounter, internal and external.