President Tom Keith’s views on Family Separation and Detention at our Nation’s borders…Do What is Morally Right for Immigrant Families.

As I reflect on the recent occurrences around immigrant children being separated from their parents, I cannot help but think about the passages written in the book of Matthew. I also think about how we have become accepting of practices that hurt people and we justify it with political or legal rhetoric. The Sisters have taught me that in most circumstances we are given a choice. How we make that choice should be grounded in the core values and beliefs that are inside of us. Beliefs like justice, respect, courage, compassion and collaboration, to be exact. So if we make every choice and every decision using these core values as our litmus test, then we should be comfortable with the decisions we have made.

As I watch children being taken away from their parents and put in cages and shelters, I am overwhelmed. The United States was built on a set of principles that has made America unique. As a country, we have been willing to help others after a disaster such as the 2016 devastation of southwestern Haiti when Hurricane Matthew struck and in 2011 when a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan unleashing a savage tsunami. We have helped immunize thousands of children in developing countries to prevent disease. We have provided food to African nations so that the starving families could survive. We have done so much good for so many of the world’s struggling populations.

In Matthew 25: 37-46, “Jesus says: that if I was hungry and you did not feed me, if I was thirsty and you did not give me drink, if I was a stranger and you did not invite me in and I was naked and you did not clothe me: if I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me: I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me and you will go away to eternal punishment and the righteous to eternal life.”

For those of us that call ourselves Christians and follow the Biblical doctrine, we have a very clear message from Jesus himself on what is right and what is wrong.

No matter how much we try to justify the detaining of children indefinitely and the separation of children and families, it is wrong. No matter how much we ignore the true responsibility for the welfare of any child no matter what their circumstances are, it is still wrong. No matter how much we try to act like we are a strong and lawful society and we are only obeying the laws, we are wrong. The law is not our guiding light, our morals are. We need only look to the fact that in the 1860’s it was legal to own slaves in the United States. Just because it is the law doesn’t always mean it is right.

Each one of us has a moral and ethical obligation to stand up and to react to the actions that have put some of the world’s most vulnerable people in danger and distress. The next time a righteous person tries to convince you that we have to do this because it is our country and we have to protect it, then just pull out Matthew 25 and read it to them. I am no biblical scholar, but the message is clear to me and needs to be clear to those that lead our country; that they must do so with compassion and courage, and do the right thing on behalf of the least of us. #RefugeesWelcome

Thomas C. Keith
Sisters of Charity Foundation of SC