Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. has apparently urged students, staff and faculty at his Christian school to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon on campus. The purpose seems to be protection in the event of an attack.
“Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,” Falwell reportedly said.
This from a man who purports to follow Jesus who told Peter to put away his sword.
But Falwell further appears to have added an Islamphobic remark.
“I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” Falwell said.
Donald Trump issued a call to bar Muslims from entering the United States.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” a campaign press release reportedly said.
This from a man who claims to follow Jesus who continually crossed lines of prejudice and discrimination.
To Falwell and to Trump, I say “No! You do not speak for me.”
I reject these messages of hate.
I reject these messages of hate because of what I understand it to mean to be a citizen of the United States of America. We are the home of the brave and courage comes from inside ourselves and among ourselves not from being armed to the teeth and shooting first. The message of Lady Liberty is a message of welcome not a message of exclusion.
I reject these messages of hate because they are incompatible with my faith in Jesus.
Jesus calls us to include not to divide; to love not to fear; to respond to violence with creative nonviolence. Jesus invites us to live into hope; to make ourselves vulnerable; to build and nurture community.
The world is a scary place. I know that.
However, responding with weapons and violence and judgement and exclusion leads only to more fear, destruction, and death.
The way to life, and it takes hard, hard work, is to recognize we are all God’s children, created with an amazing diversity, to honor God’s image in one another, and to love one another. It will involve challenges and risks and pain and sorrow. But it will also involve grace amazing and joy abounding and blessings abundant.
So I reject these, and all, messages of hate. And I choose the way of life. I will protest hate and I will love as well as I am able.
See you along the Trail.