In a recent article touching on the issue of immigration, John Pavlovitz told people, “If your church is silent right now – you should leave it.” The article attracted my attention, in part because some months ago, the parish that I attend invited The Reverend Samira Page, founder of a ministry to immigrants in North Texas called Gateway of Grace to talk about the challenges of ministering to immigrants in an effective, hands-on, face-to-face fashion. Mother Samira is a dear friend and is herself an immigrant to the United States from Iran. Her ministry, which is now the largest of its kind in North Texas has been a labor of love, which she began without any support.
The article also attracted my attention because I found myself engaged in a fruitful conversation with a friend who feels that Pavlovitz is right and wondered why I don’t believe that it is necessarily productive to address issues of this kind from the pulpit. My friend pointed out that he believes that personal holiness is important, but that the current political climate calls for churches to take a stand on issues like immigration.
For priests, pastors and ministers or for theological educators, like myself who find themselves thinking about these issues, such conversations naturally touch on a larger issue: Is the pulpit the appropriate place to broach largely political questions and stake out a position? With an eye to that question, but with specific attention to the issue of immigration, here are the four thoughts that I shared with my friend, edited and expanded a bit for this article:
One: I share your concern about the current state of affairs nationally, though I am troubled by much more than the current incumbent of the White House. I think that the presidency has become too powerful. Congress is derelict in its duties and has been for decades. We are operating informally as a parliamentary democracy, when — in fact — we are not. And, because politicians now specialize in getting elected and re-elected, there is no will or desire to deal with the issues that face us as a nation.