Christians Don’t Applaud the Tear-Gassing of Children

Faith can be a difficult thing to quantify.

Generally speaking, it’s nearly impossible to discern someone else’s religious convictions, the authenticity of their confession of belief.

But sometimes you’re able to see the disconnect clearly. Sometimes the cognitive dissonance is so profound, that it really can’t be argued with. Once in a while, you see people responding in a way that is antithetical to whatever spirituality is supposed to look like.

This week I’ve seen millions of professed Christians do something no Christian does—at least, no Christians who give half a damn about Jesus; about emulating his example, about perpetuating his life, about, you know—actually doing as he did..

Christians don’t applaud tear-gassing mothers with children in their arms.

They don’t defend it.
They don’t justify it.
They don’t excuse it.
They don’t make coarse jokes about it on partisan talk shows.
They don’t tweet with joy about it.

They don’t bury it in whataboutisms about Barack Obama.
They don’t break their backs doing theological gymnastics trying to make the Bible consent to it.

When Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,” he was expressing his heavy burden for and his solidarity with, those most vulnerable, those most overlooked, those whose voices are so often rendered silent. He was commanding people following him, not to be a source of injury to the already injured. He was unequivocally telling them, as he did over and over again—that his people would be marked by compassion for the hurting.

The Jesus of the Gospels spent his life with the street people, dining with the common rabble, sharing tables with the unwanted and despised, touching the lepers, saying that he would come disguised as beggars and prisoners.

Jesus would be fully sickened by a Government using chemical weapons on families seeking sanctuary.
He would be overwhelmed with grief, watching people desperately feeling violence being met with more violence.
He would be horrified hearing people claiming to be his followers, trolling them on talk shows and twitter feeds and in press conferences.

I’ve heard all the callous FoxNews, GOP, Evangelical nonsense about “doing it the right way,” about “not breaking law;” that because they aren’t “going through the proper legal channels,” these parents are somehow culpable for their wounds and their trauma. (These folks obviously haven’t read the Bible story of Jesus’ parents fleeing to Egypt to escape the widespread bloodshed ordered by Herod—either that, or they’d have been fine gassing Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.)

This is certified, sanctified, abject nonsense. 

When wildfires devastated California a few weeks ago, we marveled at the courage parents showed trying to save their families from the encroaching flames; braving all manner of terrors and threats to try and protect those they loved. No decent human being would have condemned or chastised them for breaking a traffic law, or for trespassing while attempting to escape being burned alive. We know that the instinct to survive takes over when danger feels imminent, and we also know that humanity trumps legality.

Why in their, or any other God’s name, do these so-called Christian people, imagine those fleeing gang violence and genocide and poverty—merit any less empathy? Why don’t they have the same consideration for the kind of fear and desperation that would drive a mother to walk hundreds of miles with their children?

These families aren’t coming to rape or kill or destroy anything—they’re trying to stay alive, they’re trying to do whatever they can to let their children experience the same peace and rest that we take for granted, they’re trying like hell to avoid the flames licking at their heels.

And Jesus would be receiving these exhausted human beings with outstretched arms, not with a barrage of gas canisters or with contempt or with mocking jokes or with head-turned apathy—and there’s really no way around it.

If you profess to be a Christian, and you can’t at least attempt to understand how at the end of their ropes these people must be to traverse for days with all they have left on their backs and in their arms—you’re gonna need to do a whole lot better, or you may as well call it a day on claiming faith.

If you find yourself applauding or defending or being silent, while families are tear-gassed trying to find safety and refuge from unthinkable sorrow, you should probably forget that whole Christian thing.

It ain’t workin’.


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22 thoughts on “Christians Don’t Applaud the Tear-Gassing of Children

  1. Their hateful words and actions are damaging the holy name of Jesus and it’s nothing short of devastating.

  2. You are absolutely correct. Jesus was very clear that his concern was always for those in need. “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.”. Those are God’s children pleading for help. If a starving, persecuted person knocked on your door no real Christian would turn them away. We’ll be judged for this.

  3. Once again, Pastor John speaks to us with a prophetic voice that we would do well to hear.

    Pastor John asks, “Why in their, or any other God’s name, do these so-called Christian people, imagine those fleeing gang violence and genocide and poverty—merit any less empathy? Why don’t they have the same consideration for the kind of fear and desperation that would drive a mother to walk hundreds of miles with their children?”

    Why don’t they? Because the asylum seekers are not white.

  4. Excellent blog article John—however—the hearts most in need of being touched by your writing will not be touched. I know this from growing up in the American South—and I want all you people who live in Canada, Europe, and Australia to read what I have to say carefully—so here goes.

    I grew up in the American South in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. Most of the adults in my life at that time are now dead, but they left pieces of themselves, their thoughts, and their strongest beliefs with me and their many other children when they died. I am not talking about just one or two adults here. I am talking about numerous adults inside and outside of my family.

    As Hitler predicted, the only two real winners in World War II were the United States and the Soviet Union. Americans were riding very high on their horses right after the war, and the foregoing adults had adopted certain strong personal and national beliefs about the rest of the world through their war experiences overseas:

    The strongest of those were the firm belief that the American citizen, when compared to all other living people on planet Earth, is a superior human being. They believed themselves to be far superior to the primitive bands and tribes they had seen as WWII soldiers in the Pacific theater, Asia, and and Africa. They believed themselves to be far superior to the Europeans. Why? Two things:

    (A) Even though most Americans were descended from European immigrants, they believed that growing up in the United States (with its unique advantages) had turned the sons and daughters of these American immigrants into SUPERMEN and SUPERWOMEN. Interestingly, Hitler and his cronies were afraid that the United States had turned the son of an immigrant SUPERMAN named Eisenhower into a SUPER, SUPER, SUPERMAN that Germany would be unable to defeat.

    (B) Americans had saved the whole world and its civilizations from destruction—including the Soviet Union—which had received a mountain of supplies and equipment from the United States throughout World War II.

    So, at the end of World War II—having saved Europe, North Africa, and Asia—the average American with an 8th grade education viewed himself and his American neighbors as SUPERHUMAN beings of far better character and quality than every other human being living on the Earth. For example, my Uncle Malcolm referred to the citizens of the United Kingdom as a “naturally immoral race” because too many of them were—I suppose—just like Oscar Wilde.

    I do not think the citizens of the United Kingdom today are truly in touch with this long-standing American feeling of superiority—and do not understand that it applies not just to the average citizen of the UK but also to every member of the royal family—-including Queen Elizabeth II—and if she ever visits an average American home—she had better—by God—be humble and servile in doing it—or she will get her fat old lady’s ass tossed into the street. In the United States at the end of World War II, every man and every woman (poor or rich) was a King or Queen better than any royalty in Europe. President Donald J. Trump somehow picked up on that traditional feeling of American superiority, which was so characteristic of his parental generation and my parental generation—and he “channels it” on the world stage. The slogan “Make America Great Again” is a Trumpian attempt to recapture the American SUPERMAN that existed immediately after World War II. These were the parents of the Baby Boomer generation in the United States, and our parents taught these beliefs to us—but not all of us took them seriously. Trump is trying to revive those old teachings in the hearts of Baby Boomers and bring them to bear in an attempt to say to the rest of the world:

    “As an American, I am everything—and all of you people in the rest of the world are nothing, zero, zip—and that especially applies if your skin is the wrong color—and you had better give me your respect and tribute—or I will beat the sh*t out of you.”

    This is why it is so easy for Trump and those who think like him to unleash tear gas on migrant moms and babies from Central America. This is why it was so easy to bomb North Korea into the stone age in 1951 and napalm whole villages in Viet-Nam. This is why it was so easy to unleash the fury of the American military on Iraq, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, and the so-called “Islamic State.” The Saudi Arabian men who crashed those two airliners into the World Trade Center were not human beings. They were insects when compared to the SUPERHUMAN American—and everyone knows what you do with pesky insects. You exterminate them. Donald J. Trump has this immediate post-World War II American SUPERHUMAN mindset—and to him—the rest of the world’s peoples—including our allies in Europe—are little more than insects to be dealt with in the most convenient way possible.

    How many of you Brits and Canadians understood all of this before I laid it out for you? Europeans pride themselves on knowing everything about the United States—often saying that “we know you better than you know yourselves.” Trouble is. The professional anthropologist within me says that you can really never know another culture, society, or country well unless you have lived there for a long time. You will get the big things—-but the nuances will pass you by—and the nuances are often the most important things when the rubber meets the road.

    I must confess something to you along the lines of what I have written above. One day I read a newspaper article where a Ph.D. professor in some technical discipline at Cambridge University was dissing the mathematical abilities of American freshman students who cross the pond to attend that famous institution. His condescension pissed me off badly. I resolved to send him the American list of Nobel Prize winners, mentioned a few other important things, and said that when the UK sends a man to the moon, explores Mars, and explores the near universe with spacecraft, then he can be critical. I crushed this braggart stooge of a professor like a cockroach under my boot—he knew it—and he deserved it.

    • “How many of you Brits and Canadians understood all of this before I laid it out for you?”

      Ummm, American exceptionalism is such a well-known phenomenon that books have been written about it. Therefore, I find it rather strange that you think Brits and Canadians like myself would be floored by you describing it.

      By the way, if your intention were to call out the foolishness of American exceptionalism, why did you end your post by boasting that you put a foreigner in his place? Were you TRYING to be ironic?

  5. As always John, you managed to put into words what I was thinking. How can they rationalize this behavior and still manage to call themselves Christians?? They have honestly lost their souls.

  6. Thanks for writing this, John. The other key fact that many people seem to be ignoring is that these travelers have come to present themselves at our port of entry to ask for asylum. That is not “illegal” immigration, but rather, a legal way to immigrate. Some of the migrants were protesting the fact that they are being blocked from even starting the drawn-out asylum process. When I hear people say, “they should come legally, ” I get so frustrated. That is exactly what they ARE doing.
    I have built a friendship with a Syrian refugee family over the last two years. I am still amazed at how many people don’t realize that refugees are LEGAL immigrants. These migrants are refugees (even if not designated that by the U.N.) and are attempting to immigrate according to the laws of our country.
    Thanks for being a voice for the voiceless.

  7. “If you find yourself applauding or defending or being silent, while families are tear-gassed trying to find safety and refuge from unthinkable sorrow, you should probably forget that whole Christian thing.”

    I noticed you included people who remained silent on your list of people you condemn as unworthy of Christianity. Interesting that you should use that phrase, because silence appears to be your MO concerning all things you deem morally outrageous, at least until you can use them to score points against the right and boost your brand. Books aren’t going to sell themselves, right?

    You try to preemptively deflect any criticism that you are a flaming hypocrite by calling it “whataboutism,” but that’s not what it is. It’s disgust at people who couldn’t be bothered to care about any of these “outrages” until January 20, 2017. It’s disgust at media personalities who get choked up on air over a picture of kids sleeping in pens on the floor of a giant warehouse in south Texas, despite knowing full well the picture was taken four years earlier. It’s disgust for politicians who cannot get in front of a camera fast enough to denounce the president’s past treatment of women (which is unquestionably indefensible) despite having spent the previous 20 years worshiping at the feet of William Jefferson Clinton. And it’s disgust for internet “resistance” pastors who get indignant at tear gas being used on people rushing the border, when he couldn’t be bothered to utter a peep on the subject at any point before this, despite it being a regular occurrence for most of the past decade (BTW, give that a go at almost any other country and see what happens).

    If you found yourself being silent while all the same things happened under your guy, then by your own admission, maybe Christianity isn’t for you. President Trump is not a hard man to legitimately criticize. But until you acquire a moral compass that isn’t perpetually oriented toward (D) you will have no leg to stand on.

  8. So very well said.. I am having such a hard time believing these people who call themselves christians are so uncaring about those seeking asylum and say such uneducated comments. They seem to hate brown skinned people and continue to portray Jesus as white, blonde and blue eyed. In denial that he was a Middle Eastern with brown skin and woolly hair and bare footed and dusty and sat with prostitutes and probably gay people.

  9. Thank you John for continuing to share your excellent observations. I think we can now get past the “Christian” argument and just say: “Normal” people do not gas babies!” That only happens in a sociopathic society.

  10. You nailed it! I am appalled by the callous attitude so many so-called “Christians” have displayed when it comes to the migrant caravan. They bleat on and on about “following the law” and that the migrants “got what they deserved”. It’s nauseating. They don’t give a damn that these are desperate men, women and children fleeing violence and horrible poverty. Jesus would never approve what we are doing at the border.

  11. Pingback: Blue Wave, Lost Influence, Little Kids and Tear Gas, McCarthy, Climate –

  12. Hey John if you are going to write an article where you’re trying to call out people for not acting like Jesus would, maybe you should try writing the way Jesus would. Jesus said to get the plank out of your own eye before you try to take the speck out of theirs. The Word of God also says, “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth” Eph 4:29. Yet your swear a couple times in the article – There was no need for swearing to make your point!

  13. Thank-you!
    By Rev Traci Blackman
    United COC Ministries
    “”I want to meet your god.
    To see if your god really exists.
    This god you preach about.
    This god you quote and say you read about.
    This god who cannot hear the children cry.
    This god who does not heal the sick.
    This god who does not provide shelter.
    This god who is nourished but does not feed.
    This god of guns but not of grace.
    This god of kings but not of kingdoms.
    This god of greed but not of generosity.
    This god of the womb but not of the woman.
    This god who fears black skin.
    This god of America but not of all America.
    Not all of the world.
    I do not know your god.
    What is your god’s name?”

  14. “They don’t bury it in whataboutisms about Barack Obama.”

    Right. We definitely shouldn’t bring up the fact that the Obama did the exact same thing without a peep from you and most on your side. Otherwise, it might expose your hypocrisy and the fact that you don’t really care about kids, or anyone else being tear gassed unless you can use it against a president you don’t like.

  15. The leaders of the caravan that stormed the border crossing are not real men. They are thugs and cowards. The mothers that exposed their children to tear gas should be prosecuted for child abuse.
    Real men don’t allow mothers with children on the front line of a battle. Men protect them first, and then expose themselves to the danger. Biblical citation? Genesis 32-33. One does not need to quote the bible to see this. But it is recommended reading. And real women protect their children from harm at the risk of their own lives.

    Christians don’t bear false witness and misrepresent the facts as a means to an end. The larger truth is a broken immigration system from which constituencies in both US political parties benefit; Mexican drug cartels, human traffickers and sex traffickers too powerful for the government of Mexico to handle, too many in the Mexican government complicit with them; and incompetent, corrupt Central American governments.

    Mr. Pavlovitz. The better images you should be posting are of the hundreds of men, women and children that die in Mexico each year before crossing the border

    The stories you should blogging about are the thousands of women that get sex-trafficked from Mexico into the US.

  16. In my experience, the people who are the most vocal about loathing for LGBTQ people, or those who want them to go back into the closet, and/or cite scripture to justify their views, are the ones who are confused about and terrified of their own sexual orientation. The Bible is simply their justification. They forget about the teachings of their messiah, but selectively whip out Leviticus when it suits them. I believe that many of these people can’t stand to see someone living an authentic life filled with joy and love and being true to oneself because they can’t allow themselves to do it. I would feel sad for them were they not trying to make miserable the lives of people who are brave enough to be their true selves.

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