The Moral Vision Trump Should Have Delivered

The Moral Vision Trump Should Have Delivered January 10, 2019

Earlier this week, President Trump delivered an Oval Office address on immigration that sought to stoke fear and hatred in the hearts of the American people. He pleaded for funds to build a monument of bigotry that we don’t need. Today, President Trump visited the border town of McAllen, Texas to double down on his racist and immoral rhetoric. People of faith must condemn racist ideology.

Children and mothers seeking safety at our borders from insurmountable violence are deserving of compassion and basic human dignity not tear gas, violence and vengeance. After nearly two years of hearing President Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric, it’s hard to recall what an ethical president would say during a visit to the border. But a president driven by fairness and integrity instead of fear and hate might say this:

My Fellow Americans,

Our country has a storied history as a nation of immigrants and a leader on human rights in the wake of the Second World War. We must strive again for that greatness.

Right now, a small but significant caravan of refugees have fled their beloved homelands of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador. They come to the border seeking safety and freedom. Most are families: children, mothers, grandmothers, who are praying that we are true to our ideals and that we do the right thing by those who are seeking freedom.

I see families in exodus, fleeing violence and oppression. Love for their children and families propels the brave and perilous journey through the wilderness.

I have looked into the eyes of fathers who have fled with sons who would be forced by gang leaders to kill or be killed.  I have looked into the eyes of mothers and grandmothers carrying young children, facing unimaginable perils to get these vulnerable babies to safety. They are haunted by the murders of their husbands, their sons, the violence done to their daughters. Our immigrant neighbors risk a dangerous journey because to stay is to be killed.

When I see our immigrant neighbors, I see Moses, who led his people out of tyranny through the desert to a promised land. I think of God’s often repeated command in the Hebrew Bible to remember that we too were once slaves, aliens, sojourners in a foreign land. I try to remember who I am, that my ancestors too fled religious intolerance and violence for freedom on these shores. I imagine my own forbears and how they hoped that they too would be well-received and given a chance.

Religious charities receiving immigrant families along the border have inspired the policies I am announcing tonight. In a Catholic respite center in El Paso, I stood before a cross. On it were the shoes of God’s children who fled with great hope, but perished in the desert.Sr. Norma Pintel speaking I watched Sr. Norma Pimentel welcome one hundred families under the slogan on her door which read: “advancing human dignity.” I saw a small, tired boy on his father’s shoulders light up, smile and wave as the staff applauded his arrival. I listened to an 11- year-old boy tell me how his father had been murdered, and that his one wish in life was to be welcome here in America.

And so tonight, I call upon us as Americans to harness our better angels, to build upon the greatest moments of our history, to live out the call of our faith traditions.

Tonight, I announce the Promised Land Initiative. Although some have called for more walls, I echo the words of Pope Francis to “build bridges, not walls.” Rather than fund more fortifications, we will fund development in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to help them recover from decades of civil wars and drug wars, which our own policies helped worsen. We will also fund efforts to end drug addiction through rehabilitation and by holding drug manufacturers and doctors accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic. We must reduce the demand for drugs here in America.

In the meantime, we will fund humanitarian aid for refugees at the border. We will see to it that no more children die unnecessarily or are ripped by border guards from the arms of loving relatives. We will hire more lawyers to process asylum claims quickly and efficiently so that no family languishes in prison for months or years on end.

All of this will cost far less than a wall and make us all safer. When we live by compassion and fairness, when we implement the ethical precepts of our faith, we will live in peace. Only when we follow God’s commands will this nation be truly blessed.

This is what a President committed to the best ideals of America and the best traditions of our faiths would say. This isn’t what President Trump announced. He sees America as a small and fearful nation which cowers in the face of people seeking asylum. Instead, we must be bold in our welcome and confident in our compassion.

To join the struggle for immigrant justice with the organization I lead, Faith in Public Life, sign up here.

About Rev. Jennifer Butler
Rev. Jennifer Butler is the founder and CEO of Faith in Public Life and the former chair of the White House Council on Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships. You can read more about the author here.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Susan Fiore

    “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” Herman Goering, Hitler’s Deputy

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Correction: “Some of the people …

  • Susan Fiore

    I can’t re-write a direct quote, I just wrote what Goering said. Because he refers to “the pacifists”, he obviously means by “the people” a significant enough number.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    You’re correct too. 🙂 Just pointing out that some of us were not “brought to the bidding” of TЯ☭itor-TЯ卐mp … nor were we deceived by the lies of the Beast.

  • Susan Fiore

  • Susan Fiore

    We teach what to think but not how to think, resulting in an easily-manipulated population.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    When a ‘leader’ shrieks things which are contrary to the teachings and commandments of Jesus,
    then you know there’s something really amiss.

  • Susan Fiore

    I’ve read some of these christianists are comparing Trump to Cyrus! He will bring on the end time, and they’ll be ‘raptured’ up to heaven, so bring it on. Truly scary people, I’m not sure they should be allowed to read scripture.

  • Isaiah 1:4
    (4) Alas, sinful nation,
    A people laden with iniquity,
    A brood of evildoers,
    Children who are corrupters!
    They have forsaken the LORD,
    They have provoked to anger
    The Holy One of Israel,
    They have turned away backward.

  • Barros Serrano

    If only they would not VOTE! They’re really not intellectually equipped to do so.

  • Barros Serrano

    By claiming we were threatened by Central American “communists”, Reagan got away with arming, funding and training the Guatemalan death squads who then tortured and killed 250,000 people, the vast majority Mayan, 40% of them juveniles.

    Yet check out right now how many in the U$A will claim Reagan was a good guy and a great President!

    The people of this country, in sum, are not good. There is enough evil among them to bring the balance at least to zero if not negative numbers.

  • Tear down the walls to your house and church and then get back to me.

  • Indeed. Which is exactly why leftist ideologies inevitably fail.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    You mean “leftist ideologies” like:

    Feeding the Hungry?

    Housing the Homeless?

    Providing Medical/Health Care for ALL?

    Helping the Less Fortunate?

    Providing for Disabled, Seniors, Orphans and Widows (ie: Social Security)?

    Treating the Sojourner, Stranger, Refugee and Immigrant with LOVE and RESPECT?
    (Jeremiah 22:3, Deuteronomy 27:19, Zechariah 7:9-10, Micah 6:8, Matthew 25:35, Matthew 7:12 & Luke 6:31)

    Loving your neighbor as yourself?

    All men and women are Created Equal?

    Fair Wages for a Day’s Work?

    Being Good Stewards of God’s Creation (Environmental Protection)?

    Enlighten us TЯ卐mp-TOAD, which of these very ‘Leftist’ ideologies are against Christ’s commandments and teachings!

  • AntithiChrist

    (…lovely dream-state…beautiful speeches-soft-cushy-non-treasonous president-kittens-Jesus…)

    …and then I woke up.

    Still president. Still treasonous. Still unspeakably cruel. Still villainous. Still here.

    Pretty sure that we’re all past the “wouldn’t it be nice if Trump were a fully-functioning human?” stage…

    and moving solidly into the “what steps are needed to reverse the huge Russian victory of criminally installing an active Russian intelligence asset in the office of the United States Presidency?” stage.

  • AntithiChrist

    Sorry, I have one additional point to make.
    (From the fantasy-Traitor-Speech)
    “Only when we follow God’s commands will this nation be truly blessed.”

    That’s an extremely misguided and dangerous idea for anyone, let alone a sitting president, to make.

    Who’s god? Which version of that god? And which commandments? The devil is certainly in the details. A brief historical review of theologies involving themselves in political governance will show anyone what a bloody, death-filled route this works out to be.

  • Cfl

    Universal health care has been instituted in most advanced countries and has rarely failed.

  • Those aren’t leftist policies. Those actually date back to before the emergence of flag-burning hate-America leftists, when the democrats and republicans were basically just two different types of conservatives.

  • My cousin in Calgary says you’re full of solid human waste.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Every single ideological item on my list has been fought for by Liberals and Progressives for more than 160 years, since before the Civil War, when Abolitionist-Liberals ran the Underground Railroad … to John Muir, who fought to protect America’s beautiful wilderness areas … to FDR, who implemented Social Security … and LBJ, who implemented the Civil Rights Act … which racist, nazi-Klan, swine, like you, fought tooth and nail to defeat!

    What were your vicious, reich-wing, slaver, ancestors doing for centuries? The same as you’re doing now … destroying everything you touch and causing as much pain and suffering to as many people as you can get away with … just like your vile, Orange-Idol!

    Could you be any more of a deluded and deceitful TЯ卐mp-TOAD?

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Did the ‘secret’ Second Coming, which Evangelicals call “The Rapture” … already happen?

    According to the Bible … In Christ’s own words:

    Matthew 16:28:

    “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

    This passage of Scripture, leads one to believe that the Rapture already happened some time around the end of the First Century … between Christ’s Ascension into Heaven, and the end of the original Apostles’ ministries and lives … near to the time of the Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

    Which makes today’s genuine Christians … those with a kind, tender heart, descendants of those left behind …
    We are the “Tribulation Saints“.

  • And implemented by conservatives. Your definition of leftist and liberal is far different than ours. Prior to the emergence of the post 60s flag burning hate America liberals, there were essentially just two types of conservatives. Blow me.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    So you’ve finally shown your true colors. Unable to win an argument with fact or logic,
    you have to resort to inventing lies and using juvenile vulgarity.

    Hit the road, TOAD!

  • Nope. Just giving you a history lesson. And no, not the revisionist history you learned in your [insert purported victim demographic here] studies program in college.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    TOADS like you twist history to fit your own depraved agenda. FDR, LBJ, John Muir and the Quaker-Abolitionists were all LIBERALS!

    None of your TЯ卐mp inspired vile lies stand up to the TRUTH or to HISTORY.

  • The people you’re calling “liberal” had far more in common with today’s conservatives than the human debris on today’s left (sodomites, feminists, marxists, etc). Yeah, your history is so “real” that you people resort to riots every time it’s exposed as fake.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Bearing false witness and being a neo-nazi swine are grounds for Blocking!

    Welcome to my Ignore List vile, lying TЯ☭itor-TЯ卐mp-TOAD!

  • Very well. Go hide in your closet, snowflake.

  • Robert Conner

    Trump is playing his base. Evangelicals are his base.

  • Robert Conner
  • Robert Conner

    Here’s what we really know about religion in politics and it isn’t pretty.

  • AntithiChrist

    Meanwhile, back on this planet, we have a heartless, actively and wantonly cruel narcissist, who was overwhelmingly voted in by, and enjoys the ongoing support of most “Christians” in the USA. A demon who made no effort to hide his cruelty during his campaign.

    For the few Christians who now realize their abandonment of everything Jesus taught, in order to vote for or support this devil, I’ve yet to meet one who is willing to make tangible amends, other than nicely (and privately) asking for Jesus’ easily granted forgiveness.

    Faith, or laments on the “what-might-have-beens” if only Jesus had steered Christians toward a compassionate candidate, simply do not cut it. Just more hot air. We get plenty of that from the Orange Savior.