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A Time to Speak Out

We do not yet know if President Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven largely Muslim countries will be deemed legal. We do not need to wait, however, to declare it immoral and worthy of our outrage. The three “Abrahamic” faiths, including Islam, all include the mandate to welcome the stranger. This passage from Deuteronomy is but one example: “The Lord defends the rights of orphans and widows. He cares for foreigners and gives them food and clothing. And you should also care for them, because you were foreigners in Egypt” (CEV).

This is a time for people of faith -- and people of conscience of no particular faith -- to resist and protest. During another dark time, Martin Niemoller, a leading German pastor, spent seven years in Nazi concentration camps. He later reflected:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Niemoller’s words, laced with regret, are a chastening reminder: It is time for us to speak out.

-- Martin B. Copenhaver, President, Andover Newton Theological School (Jan. 30, 2017)

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