Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Colorado Council of Churches' address and more

Did you notice something missing on the letter from the Colorado Council of Churches? Interesting that the organization doesn't have their address on their letterhead, don't you think?

Nevertheless, thanks to the Internet and Google, I found their web site and their snail-mail and e-mail addresses were available there. I've posted that information and their web site URL on the Religion page of my web site at www.ButtsAboutIt.com.

So what do you think? Do you want to write a letter to the Colorado Council of Churches to voice your views about their views on immigration...or any other thoughts?

If yes, there's an easy way to double the impact of your efforts. Why not also send a copy of your letter to the regional office of your denomination? An alternative would be to address your letter to your denomination's office and send a copy to the Colorado Council of Churches. Each denomination operates differently, but I believe most have a hierarchy under the national office to which we can address our concerns and our letters. For example, as a Presbyterian, I would address my letter to the Presbytery that governs the church I'm a member of. For the denominations affiliated with the Colorado Council of Churches, the CCC's web site does provide Colorado contact information.

In addition to that, we can also send a copy to the headquarters of our denomination. If you don't have that addressing information, try the search box I've put on my web site here: http://www.buttsaboutit.com/Religion.htm .

And if you're in a U.S. state other than Colorado, you might be curious about organizations similar to our Colorado Council of Churches in your own state. The web site URL for the National Council of Churches has a list of similar organizations in 31 different states (listing only those that have web sites). If you want to see if your state is listed, you'll find the link to the National Council of Churches on the Religion page of www.ButtsAboutIt.com as well.

In the few moments I had to peruse the web site of the Colorado Council of Churches, I didn't see this letter posted. Furthermore, I didn't see anything that looks like it might keep us abreast of what they're doing. That has been one of my complaints over the years: I never know what they're up until after the fact...if at all. That's part of the problem, I think. It seems they do whatever they do in secret...and then say they're speaking for us. And we can't know about it or say anything about it until after it's done...if then. I doubt they mean to be so secretive, but in practice that's how it works out. Occasionally I'll see something in the newspaper or hear something on the news that says the Colorado Council of Churches did this or supports that or agrees with whatever, but other than those haphazard occasions, I don't know how to know what they're doing. If you know how to keep up with what this Council is doing, please let the rest of us know.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Conversation I Keep Having

As I've talked to people about this idea I had...
...to start a blog to encourage people to speak out to people in power about the issues of the day,
...and a web site to provide people with the information they need to speak out,
...and an e-zine to equip them with the know-how
... I suddenly realized I was having the same conversation over and over. It goes something like this:

Me: Did you read that letter from the Colorado Council of Churches?

Friend: No, didn't see it.

Me: [I tell them about it.]

Friend: I'm not surprised.

Me: We should say something.

Friend: Won't do any good.

Me: Why not?

Friend: That organization has been around for years. They're very liberal.

Me: What do you think would happen if we said something? Maybe wrote them a letter?

Friend: [shrug]

Me: If I wrote a letter, they might think I was nuts.

Friend: [nod]

Me: They might file it in the trash can.

Friend: [nod]

Me: But what if they got a letter from you, too?

Friend: ...

Me: What if they got a letter from me and you and some other people?

Friend: Probably wouldn't change anything.

Me: Maybe not. But at least they would know we don't agree with them.

Friend: That's true.

Me: And the next time they did something we didn't agree with, if you got someone else to write and I got someone else to write, they'd hear from a few more people.

Friend: [nodding and looking a little brighter]

Me: And maybe they'd start to think maybe we're not nuts and maybe they shouldn't file our letters in the trash can.

Friend: [still nodding...looking a little more hopeful]

Me: If they heard from enough of us consistently enough, we might be able to pull them back from the far left where they are now.

Friend: I don't know...

Me: Maybe not, but that definitely won't happen if we don't try.

Friend: Well that's true...

Me: At least we'd be doing something instead of just being silent about it, doing nothing.

Friend: But I do talk about these things.

Me: Yeah, like we are right now.

Friend: [Brighter] Yeah.

Me: Talking about this stuff with our own circle of Christian friends is important--we need to engage and inform them. But if we're going to do something that makes a difference, we're going to have to do more than just complain to our like-minded friends in our closed circles where no one else ever hears. We're going to have to speak up to people outside our circle, to the people in organizations like this or politicians who represent us or whoever are the decision-makers. Until they hear what we think, you're right...nothing will change.

Friend: You know? You're right. Maybe we should say something.

The conversation I keep having moves from "Won't do any good" to "Yeah, you're right. Maybe we should say something."

So what about you, Friend? Where are you in this conversation? Are you still in the "Won't do any good" mode? Or are you willing to step up and step out and speak up? To try...even if it doesn't appear to do any good?

Are you in? Are you ready to start speaking up? Saying something? To people in power? To influence people who have the power to make changes?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Some thoughts on the Colorado Council of Churches letter

Thanks to each of you who made comments on the letter from the Colorado Council of Churches. Good job! I learned something from each of you.

I said I would post my comments when I blogged again. Oh, golly. Where do I start?
  • "human created political borders"? Is it somehow wrong to have borders to our nation? The Council makes it sound as if it's a bad thing. Shame on us. And a nation's borders are only "political"? What about defining geographic boundaries for each nation? This isn't a bad thing--it's a practical thing. And we have a right to protect our borders and national security. They are not just political boundaries.
  • "A child of God may do something illegal, but no child of God is illegal"? Everyone with a brain understands using the term "illegal" in this context means a person who has come into our country illegally.
  • "the intrinsic value of every human being..." The immigration laws of the United States do not devalue human beings who immigrate legally. They don't even devalue people who come illegally. Nor does it devalue anyone when we want them to do it right and obey our laws. No one wants illegal immigrants to be mistreated. Wanting them to obey our laws is not mistreating them.
  • "...advance the perspective and public policies which reflect the Gospel message of love, inclusion and compassion for all of God's people." Our immigration laws and promoting legal immigration in no way opposes the Gospel message of love...etc.
  • Our laws (and demanding people obey our laws) in no way fails to "recognize the humanity and value of everyone within our borders, whether they are here legally, or not" as the Council's Statement implies.
  • None of the four points from Scripture seem on point. What about Romans 13:1-7?!
  • We have no problem being kind to people who are different than "us." It is not unkind to want them to obey the laws of the United States.
  • "inclusion" That word always makes me uneasy. It implies we must include everyone. Sounds good on the surface. But we are required to include people who do wrong. No, they may be included when they begin to do what is right.
  • I don't know of anyone who is treating people who are in this country illegally in a wrong way. Wanting them to obey our laws, wanting our law enforcement to enforce our laws is not treating people without mercy, unfairly, without kindness, and without justice as the letter implies. As a matter of fact, we want true justice. However "justice" in the church language nowadays seems to mean everyone gets treated the same. People how don't earn as much money need to have the same as people who earn more or the world is so unjust! (Um, sounds like socialism to me.) We can't act with justice (in immigration) or else we're being unjust. Let people break any law (whether man's or God's) and we must treat them as if everything's fine. Just love them...and everything will be fine. Don't make they do what is right, obey any law because that's mean. Just love them...
  • The Council successfully implied anyone who disagrees is a racist, filled with hatred, a bigot, and is prejudiced.
  • Then we get to the part about how we are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants and some have really treated others badly in our past. Oh, can't forget that. And, um, ...what's the point? Oh yeah. To induce guilt. Nice tactic.
  • "...we are no better than how we treat the stranger amongst us." We treat strangers pretty well! Even if the stranger amongst us entered our country illegally.
  • "...support legislation and policy that approaches immigration issues with compassion and respect toward all people..." Uh, that's what we have now. We just want those policies enforced. It's interesting to me they include law enforcement in their list of everyone who struggles. Law enforcement officers have taken an oath and have sworn to uphold the laws of this land and protect this nation and the people in it, yet the Colorado Council of Churches is saying they should not honor that oath of office, should not uphold the laws of this land, and should not protect this nation from those who enter illegally even though among them may be some who intend to do us harm. The Council wants our law enforcement people to overlook our laws. How crazy is that?

These are weak arguments. They attempt to support wrong-doing and use common tactics to try to force the rest of us to agree:

  • using guilt and shame to quiet those who think differently
  • using inflammatory words like racism, hatred, bigotry and prejudice to imply that is what we are if we disagree

The Council promotes "love" in a way that implies that those of use who disagree with them are not loving. And since when does love exclude obedience? Those who take the laws of man--and breaking the laws of man--so lightly no doubt have the same regard for the laws of God.

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, and agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

"This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."

Romans 13:1-7, New International Version of the Holy Bible

Friday, July 13, 2007

Does Colorado Council of Churches represent you?

I didn't ask for it. It just came to me. Landed in my hands. There it was...a letter from the Colorado Council of Churches. The letter lays out the Council's position on the immigration issue. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the letter lays out the position of the church denominations that approved the letter.

Interested in what the letter says? I've posted a scanned copy on my web site at http://www.ButtsAboutIt.com/ so you can read it for yourself. Click on the "Religion" page on the site and you'll see it.

So what do you think? Does this letter represent your views? (Please let me know by posting a comment here on the blog. Just click on "comments" at the end of this post.)

Now, to ask a different question: Does this letter represent you?

Whether the Colorado Council of Churches letter represents your views or not, it may represent you.

Did you notice the list of church denominations listed on the letterhead? These mainline Christian denominations are also listed at the bottom of the letter with the note that they all agreed with the letter. If your denomination is listed, this letter represents you. At least it represents you to the rest of the people--the people of Colorado, other states, the nation...whoever reads the letter. What do you think about that?

If you are a member of or attend the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), this letter represents you. If you are a Baptist, this letter represents you. (Perhaps you're not an American Baptist. Maybe your a member of another Baptist denomination. But would people who may read this letter really know the distinction?) If you're a member of the Methodist, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran, or Presbyterian Church (USA)--as I am--this letter represents you. Including your denomination in this letter implies you (and I) agree with the letter and these views on immigration. After all, if someone knows I'm a Presbyterian and they read this letter, they see my church denomination listed and therefore think this letter represents me and my views.

What do you think of that? Any comments? I'd like to know how this strikes you. I'll save my comments for my next post.

(Do you know someone who might be interested in this letter, this discussion, or this topic? If yes, would you please send them an e-mail suggesting this blog? This is another way you can speak out and voice your views. Help get other people involved and engaged.)