The Trump travel ban or the Gospel

Today the Supreme Court in the case of Trump v. Hawaii upheld Executive Order 13780, frequently called the “Trump travel ban” or the “Muslim ban.” The 5-4 decision was based on whether or not the President has the power to enact the Order. “We express no view on the soundness of the policy,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the decision. The decision is not based on the fundamental American principles of freedom of religion, justice for all or openness to all who “yearn to breathe free.”

It is also not based on a moral or Biblical analysis. The US Supreme Court is not the place for such analysis, but this article is. Here are four Bible verses and a short reflection on each for the moral analysis that this moment requires:

From God alone comes my salvation. (Psalm 62:1)

Peace, safety and security are God’s gifts to humanity. To reject what God has given is to reject God.

The NH Council of Churches wrote in their Joint Statement on Immigration that recommend “reforms in our national immigration policy which uphold the God-given dignity of every person.” This recommendation is not made out of partisan rejection of others’ policies.

Instead it affirms that by trusting the goodness of others, we have placed our faith in God. As the Bible says, a nation which affirms God and God’s gifts to humanity is indeed “happy” and “blessed” (Psalm 33:12).

Besides God there is no savior. (Isaiah 43:11)

The Court-upheld travel ban is a rejection of God. It is a false gospel (Galatians 1:7). The travel ban substitutes faith and trust with fear and anti-Muslim animus.

The ban’s foundation is a lie. The ban promises safety but it can never deliver. Even the Department of Homeland Security “found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Donald Trump’s travel ban pose a terror threat” (source).

Instead here in New Hampshire, I know a Muslim man whose family could not attend his daughter’s wedding due to the ban. Another person tells me of an Iranian-born sales director prevented from a routine business trip.

Rather than delivering security, the upheld ban has injured families and has injured our economy. Rather than finding the peace and safety that come from God, the ban replaces God’s offer with unfounded fears and a lies.

Because the Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), this moment is a God-given opportunity to confess and repent.

Repent and believe in the good news. (Mark 1:15)

The message of Jesus was an offer of salvation for all people. He called people to end their reliance on themselves, their power and their own good works for security and salvation. Jesus asked people to repent from that path and to trust in him and his goodness for peace and safety.

In order for Jesus’ promise to be good news, it must be good news for all people. Good news cannot discriminate based on national origin. Good news cannot rely on anti-Muslim animus. Good news cannot separate families.

 

While I remain disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the President’s travel ban, I hope that Churches remain faithful to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus, which substitutes fear with faith, our efforts with God’s gift and the way of death with what is truly Good News.

Author: Jason

Rev. Jason Wells is the executive director of the New Hampshire Council of Churches. Prior to this position he served Episcopal congregations in New Hampshire for 13 years after his ordination in 2004. Jason is also a board member of the ACLU-NH. He is a former president of the Greater Concord Interfaith Council and has served on the Episcopal Church's committee on ecumenical and interfaith relationships. Jason received a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and also holds bachelors degrees in computer science and mathematics from Southern Methodist University.