What Endures?

I received an interesting comment  on my post A Unitarian Universalist Theology.  “…why should we concern ourselves on [relationships t]hat will pass , instead of what will endure?”

The question, even though I attempted to give an answer, remained with me.  Here is a portion of what I wrote:

What does endure? Everything that I see and experience dies in this universe including the stars above. Some ancient scriptures state that love endures. But where is love found? In relationships. I have never seen or experienced love that existed independently or was separate from a relationship between two or more entities. …  So if love endures as many various scriptures indicate, then focusing on relationships is a means to experience love and to have that love endure beyond us.

I have reflected more on love enduring beyond us and remembered several events in my life where this is true, at least in my life.  My father’s parents were conservationists, a term that today would probably be translated as environmentalists.  They co-founded the local chapter of the Audubon Society. The both loved being in nature;  exploring the various ferns and fauna that grew on their property.  I was fortunate to have them live across the road from me and so I was surrounded by their love of nature. They introduced me to raising Monarch Butterflies and other caterpillars.  They would teach me to be awed by the diversity of life even within the same species.  My grandparents have now been gone for over 40 years, yet when I stop to look at flowers or butterflies pirouetting in flight , or to listen to the warbler’s  song, it is my grandparents’ love that is being expressed here.  Their love surfaces to my memories and hold me in that grace.

I had a childhood friend who was my best friend through out middle school and high school.  He was gay. We continued our friendship into adulthood. And while I struggled with acceptance of my sexuality, he was able to be there for me. I  would argue with him about the sinfulness of it all and he would listen and still accept me for where I was.

Then Glenn in the late 1980’s was diagnosed HIV positive.  I wanted to do something that would let him know that I supported him, that I cared for him. An opportunity opened up for me to become involved with the founding of an Interfaith response to HIV in the Connecticut city where I lived.  This opportunity based in the desire to support my friend was to shift the direction of my life for ever.

I was on the founding board of this new entity.  Then I was president and then through some heavy duty risk taking, I stepped into the director position not knowing if sustainable funding would be established. That position grew into full time and then had a complement of eight staff.  Fifteen years later the ministry was providing family preservation supports to hundreds of people living with and affected by HIV.  We were educating our youth with a youth directed,  youth organized HIV/AIDS education program. We were doing outreach into the immigrant Brazilian population.  We were providing a full service food pantry with fresh meats, fresh vegetables, fresh dairy, fresh fruit and a nutritionist at 20 hours a week.  And we were the first in that community to be a tri-lingual agency with English, Spanish, and Brazilian dialect Portuguese spoken.

My relationship and my love for Glenn endured through this time even though Glenn did not live long enough to see or hear the full story of his inspiration on my life. He died just before I became director of that organization.

When I came out of the closet and subsequently excommunicated from the Charismatic Christian intentional community I lived in, it was my relationship with another friend that carried me through and lives on in me now.  Wayne’s wife was active in the AIDS ministry in those early years. When she retired our friendship thinned as friendships sometimes do. A few years had passed and she died.  I attended her memorial service and Wayne and I reconnected our friendship.  I was floundering spiritually.  Wayne invited me to attend his Unitarian Universalist congregation.   I did and while I did not join the congregation for a good length of time, I was beginning to sense that this was home for me.  Wayne was a good mentor for me.  He had a perspective on things that was delightfully refreshing.

When I began talking about entering seminary for the UU ministry, Wayne was the first to encourage me.  Wayne was a phenomenal knitter.  He was knitting me a sweater for those cold Chicago nights when the cancer thought in remission was discovered to have metastasized in the brain.  Wayne spoke with the knitting ministry of the church to finish the sweater even as he lay in the hospital bed approaching his final hours.  While I have not had much opportunity to wear the sweater here in Alabama, I treasure it as another example of love enduring.

In many ways these relationships continue on in my life in various ways.  It is their love that endures and sustains me.  They have shaped my vision of life and they have steered me into uncharted waters at the right time.  There are others whose lives have intersected with mine whose love endures and shapes mine.  I am sure that there are lives that I have intersected with and perhaps have shaped their lives, hopefully for the fuller, happier side of life.

This for me is part of what I would refer to as having a relationship with the holy.  That indescribable flow of energy between two or more that creates something new and different.  It could be something as simple as an awe and appreciation of the wonders of nature or the creation of a new entity that lets people know that they are loved and not alone with a frightening disease called AIDS.

And so I emend my answer. Love endures.  The physical may pass away, but the love shared endures and can still inform the present.  It is through relationships that love develops.  It is through relationships that love informs. It is through relationships that love shapes our lives into new creations. It is through relationships that our lives are directed on a path towards what exactly, I do not know.   Some say to the holy, some say to an afterlife of bliss, some say to come back and do it again.  And some say this is life is all we are given.  Whatever the destination, I have come to believe  having quality relationships with others is key to an abundant life.  And love endures.

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A Unitarian Universalist Theology

One of the questions that ministers get asked is to discuss their personal theology.  Unitarian Universalists do not have a prescribed creed that we must believe in in order to be a Unitarian Universalist.  We are encouraged to ask ourselves those hard questions  and  develop a personal theology of what we believe and how this informs our daily lives.

My personal theology continues to evolve.  Today, I am much less concerned with doctrines that people hold and more concerned with the relationships that evolve around them. Therefore my theology has become more focused on the relational. What is our relationship to the holy?  What is our relationship to our past?  What is our relationship with our present?  How do the answers to these questions influence or dictate our future relational  experiences?

A person wounded by a spiritual violent religious experience who has not found some way to resolve that woundedness is going to relate to others in a much different manner than someone who has resolved that woundedness.  If they can begin to see the connection of their relationship to their past and in particular this past event to how they respond now, then perhaps they can begin to make conscious choices to act differently now.

I am less concerned with whether a person has a doctrine that states god is a father in heaven and more concerned with how this doctrine influences their relationships with each other here.  Does it enable them to be more just in their actions with others? Does it make them judgmental?  Likewise, I am less concerned with a person’s claim there is no god and more concerned with how this doctrine influences their relationships with others. Does not having a belief in god shift their relationship with one another? If so, in what direction does it shift—towards more compassion –towards more cynicism?  These questions do not have static answers.

Theology is only helpful and practical if it enables a person or a group of people to live their lives in a manner that is uplifting of universal values.   Our Unitarian Universalist faith is not concerned with whether you are a Buddhist or a Christian, a Pagan or a Muslim, an atheist or a theist. Our  faith is more concerned with how those beliefs help build sustaining relationships with each other.  If the beliefs we hold aid us in living an ever increasing compassionate and justice filled life, then those beliefs are transformative.  If these beliefs or doctrines hinder that ability, then we as individuals need to let them go. If we choose not to let them go, then the result is a breakage in the relationships.

I speak from experience in this breakage.  The Christian community I lived in during my youth could not let go of their doctrine that homosexuality was against god’s will for humanity. And therefore it resulted in a breakage in the relationship. As painful as this break was, it needed to be made in order for me to continue to grow in relationship with who I fully am, and in relationship with who I want to be—a more compassionate and justice centered person.

We live in relationship to one another and it is only in the relationships we have with one another that new desire, new opportunities, new avenues are found and developed. We heal others through our relationships with them. We do not know which experience in our life will lead to a transformation of a fuller expression of who we are at the core our being.

As I have already implied, there are theologies that would speak dogmatically another perspective than mine; however, their theology is valid based on the accumulation of their life experiences and how they have chosen to perceive those experiences. This is because I see expression of faith as an evolution and not a static entity. Where each person is in their theology is within the process of how they have made sense of their experiences to date. New experiences attract new thoughts which alter perspectives and ultimately how we perceive and relate to the world we live in. A theology that is relational reflects our Unitarian Universalist principle that each person is responsible for their own search for truth and meaning.

As a Unitarian Universalist,  it is not just other theologies that Unitarian Universalist hold but all other theologies that one must relate with in this pluralistic society. I believe the theology that I am embracing allows me to be in relationship with others who may have different theologies than mine. If we are going to strive to create a better world, then we need to find ways of being with the other that enhances the quality of our lives in community.

The Game Changes

The Game Changes
17 July 2011 © Rev. Fred L Hammond
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tuscaloosa

“Once to every man and nation
comes the moment to decide
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
for the good or evil side.”

These words are from the poem entitled “The Present Crisis” by James Russell Lowell, a Unitarian from the 19th century.  He is writing against the war with Mexico of 1846 to 1848.  President Polk invades Mexico under the pretense of coming to Texas’ aid, considered by Mexico to be a rebellious province in part because the American immigrants in Texas violated Mexico’s laws banning slavery.  At the time all of the southwest was a part of Mexico, made up mostly of indigenous tribes and some Mexican settlers. The war was justified as being part of manifest destiny, the belief God had chosen the United States to occupy all of the North American Continent and to be the primary nation of influence in the hemisphere.

The United States has long had this erroneous belief that God has chosen us to be the vanguards of the world. Therefore when American businesses in Central and South America were being restricted by democratically elected governments, the CIA would go in and topple the government and place trained dictators who would allow American corporations free reign. Hundreds of thousands of people were tortured and killed by these CIA placed dictators. 100,000 in Guatemala, 63,000 in El Salvador, thousands in Nicaragua, thousands in Chile killed by CIA trained death squads.

Many of the governments in place with American backing are still torturing their own people.  Thousands of refugees from these countries have crossed borders and deserts to find sanctuary from these conditions.  They are refused asylum status in the US because to grant asylum to them would implicate the US’ awareness and complicity in these acts of violence.  They cannot go home because the American created conditions are still too horrendous—in some cases still life threatening—and so they stay underground hoping that their children will have a better life than they did.  And this multitude of America’s sins against our neighbors to the south remains unspoken because we are the chosen ones, you see, and just as in biblical Israel, all crimes against humanity are ordained as being god’s will.   As long as we deny our complicity in this then we can continue to claim being the unwarranted victim in this current immigration situation.

The unjust invasion of Mexico in Lowell’s time was justified as manifest destiny and the war crimes of the CIA in Central and South America are manifest destiny’s offspring. The consequences we are only now beginning to see but apparently do not understand.

“Once to every man and nation
comes the moment to decide
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
for the good or evil side.”

There are many who believe that immigrants flooding the US are the cause for America’s economic woes.  Rev. Jose Ballester, Unitarian Universalist Minister in New England, asks; “Why are they coming to the United States? Could it be that the United States is responsible for destroying the economic means of the immigrants? Did diverting the waters of the Colorado River for irrigation; green lawns and providing potable water to the growing populations in the Southwest and Southern California destroy the farmland in Mexico? Did the importation of surplus US corn to be sold in Mexico ruin the agriculture economy of Mexico? Did NAFTA permit US Corporations to set-up factories in Mexico that are filled with cheap labor and do those same factories turn the surrounding areas into toxic wastes? Are there drug cartels in Mexico that threaten the government, commit unspeakable crimes and cross the USA/Mexico border to commit crimes? Who is buying the drugs that fuel these cartels?”

I can’t remember the movie, perhaps it is a combination of films.  The young child, bullied by classmates, attempts to purchase lunch and sit in the cafeteria.  The first table with a seat is denied as being saved for someone else.  Then the next table is also saving the seat for someone else.  All the students at the tables respond the same way, can’t sit here, this is saved for someone else.  For who?  Anyone else but the child bullied.  Children can be so cruel. And the behavior is simply wrong of the children to reject the child so treated.

So what is happening with our immigrant neighbors?   They are no longer able to stay in their country, perhaps for political reasons, perhaps because the land has been ravaged by American corporations’ lack of environmental concern, perhaps because the CIA placed regime is torturing the indigenous people. So they come to the states and they are told can’t stay in Arizona, can’t stay in Georgia, can’t stay in Alabama; these jobs are saved for someone else.  Has anyone else applied for these jobs… well no… but you can’t have them cause their saved.

If we were so able to see how wrong it was for the bullied child to be treated so poorly by the other children, then how is it so difficult to see how wrong it is for us to treat our immigrant neighbors in the same way?

Alabama had a year in which to examine what was happening in Arizona and to decide whether to follow suit.  We had a year to also examine and to decide what our actions would be should an Arizona type law come to Alabama.  Well that year is over.  For the most part, those who acted in opposition did not do so fervently enough. I include myself in that accusation. We failed to organize the coalitions needed to prevent the passage of this bill. We did not speak up loud enough.

HB 56 was signed into law and it is set to go into effect September 1st.  The game has changed. We are no longer trying to prevent a law from being written; we are now forced to live with the law and its consequences until we can have it repealed. The work will be much harder than before.

I was asked by a colleague to list ten things as to why this law is immoral and should be opposed.

  1. This law will deport individuals who have only known the US as home.  These individuals were brought here as infants in the care of their parents.  Many do not have family there.
  2. This law will break families apart.  Forcing US born children to become wards of the state, while their parents are deported.  This is a dehumanizing act with dire consequences for the well being of the children.
  3. This law denies the basic right to shelter.  It criminalizes anyone who for humanitarian reasons offers shelter.  Landlords must check citizenship status before renting.
  4. This law infringes on the right to practice ones religion.  Congregations that allow undocumented immigrants to become members and attend their services would be criminalized for harboring.
  5. Congregations would not be allowed to transport members (who might be undocumented)  in their vehicles because this would be considered human trafficking and would be subject to felony charges.
  6. Children and parents would be required to show proof of citizenship before registering for school. All children under the age of 18 have the right to an education according to federal statute regardless of legal status.  But consider that not having documentation of citizenship might discourage families to have their children attend school and then the question of what will they be doing during school time. Not attending school might lead to criminal mischief as it did in the 1800’s when public education was not mandatory.
  7. Victims of Domestic violence who are also undocumented would be subject to arrest and deportation should they seek police intervention in a domestic dispute.  This is the ‘punish the victim’ scenario.  This scenario becomes even more exaggerated if the spouse is an American citizen.
  8. Domestic workers can be criminalized for harboring and transporting domestic violence victims who are undocumented.
  9. All major religions have teachings and stories that command their followers to welcome the foreigner and offer hospitality.
  10. This law justifies ones racism, bigotry, and hatred under the rubrics of obeying the law.

The work to repeal will be much harder than the work to prevent the law from being passed.  There will be consequences in disobeying this unjust law.  There will be consequences in offering assistance to the immigrants in our community.

At General Assembly our association re-affirmed its desire to host a Justice General Assembly in Phoenix, AZ in 2012.   This was not arrived at lightly.  We were there a year ago when the law went into effect and prevented Sheriff Arpaio from conducting his raids on that day.  80 people were arrested for civil disobedience, 24 of them Unitarian Universalists, many of those were ministers.  We went because we were invited by the people who were being impacted by this law.

We went because there are people being detained in inhumane tents where the temperature has reached 140 degrees in the hot Arizona sun.  Detained because they had a broken tail light on their vehicle and they might be undocumented. Until their legal status can be verified they are held in these inhumane settings. A broken tail light.

We went because there are families that are being torn apart. Mothers who go out to do the days shopping are arrested without being able to notify their families of their whereabouts.

We went because people in this country should not live their life in fear of being stopped for random things because they happen to be of brown skin.  These are citizens who are being stopped because they look like they might be an immigrant.

These things are already happening here in Alabama.  A young man born in California with a California drivers license seeks to transfer his license to Alabama.  This is simple transfer. It took me all of ten minutes to have it done.  This young man is told he needs to show his social security card and his passport.  Then told that the numbers on the two documents do not match and therefore he must be illegal.  The numbers, by the way, are not supposed to match; they are two very different documents through two very different federal agencies.  He goes to another department and is told that he must take the written test.

Another man from Puerto Rico is denied a driver’s license because he is told he needs to have a green card to be here.  Puerto Rico is a US territory which makes him a US citizen; he does not need a green card. This is the harassment that Latino / Hispanic people are already facing and the law has not gone into effect yet.

At Justice GA 2012 we are not anticipating any arrests.  We are planning [this is still tentative] however to be of service to the 190, 000 people who are eligible for citizenship but do not have the funds to get a lawyer to fill out paper work.  There is some talk about having some sort of immigration fair where people can come to the air conditioned convention center and receive help in filling out the paper work needed.  This might include power of attorney forms in case of deportation so their children will not be placed into state facilities but rather into trusted family or friends homes who are citizens. If our going to AZ in 2012 can help keep families safe and together, then this will be well worth the efforts.

We are planning on having workshops on how to do this work in our communities back home.  Because these laws are not just happening in a few states but are being raised in states across the country.

But it isn’t just state laws that need changing. There are federal laws as well.  The Secure Communities Act is supposed to target the undocumented violent criminal.  However, this law has instead targeted soccer moms, those who are just going about their business seeking citizenship.  26 % of those deported do not have a criminal record let alone a violent one.  “If people without criminal records are at risk for deportation, they will be less likely to call law enforcement in unsafe situations.[i]

What is happening in Alabama?  There is an increase in the religious voice against this law. Rallies in Birmingham and in Huntsville have already taken place.  I am working with my interfaith colleagues to have one here in Tuscaloosa the end of this month.  We are still working on some of the location logistics and hopefully this will be in place soon so we can officially advertise.

Holy Spirit Catholic Church is hosting a power of attorney fair this afternoon.  I will be going there to assist as best as I can in helping folks fill out power of attorney forms to protect their children from becoming wards of the state should they be arrested for deportation.

And one of the things I am doing in my role with the Mid-South District is to help organize a coordinated interfaith response across the state.  Right now there are events that are happening but it is not coordinated state wide and if there were to be a repeal bill then we need to be in communication with other people of faith on the judicatory and diocese level so that a united voice can be made.

The game has changed. We are being asked by our faith denomination to step up to the plate because we have a role to play.  I was speaking with someone the other day and she stated she didn’t know what the will of god is for this new century.  All she knew is that she wants her actions to help create the America of this new century.  She wants it to be an America that loves its neighbors, within its borders as well as outside its borders.

I was touched by her statement.  What story of America do we want told of the early 21st century?  What part of that story will you be telling?

 


How Do You Eat Your Grits?

I have just completed my final Sunday service at Our Home Universalist Unitarian Church in Ellisville, MS.  I was the consulting minister there for four years.  In reflecting back on my service there, I have learned a wonderful lesson about what it means to be a minister and what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist.

Four years ago, Eunice Benton, District Executive (now retired) of the Mid-South District of the Unitarian Universalist Association asked me to consider coming to Mississippi to serve two congregations at half-time each.  She asked if I had ever lived in the deep south before and the answer was no.  Eunice wisely asked me to come down and visit before making any decision.  I met with the two congregations. The first congregation asked me the typical minister search questions; what was my theology, what are my views of religious education, etc.

The interview at Our Home held over dinner was one question and one question only.  “How do you eat your grits?”  I was a bit startled by the unorthodox question but I answered, “with butter, salt and pepper.”   I was then welcomed to come to Mississippi and be their minister. The rest of the dinner conversation was filled with logistics of transition and good humored conversation.  If I had answered with sugar or maple syrup or heaven forbid, “what are grits?” I dare say I would not be here to tell the tale.

How we create and sustain loving relationships with one another is the essence of our covenantal faith. Cultural competency is one important aspect of our faith that enables us to be in relationship.  The grits question certainly addresses this point.

Theology, creeds, or doctrines we might hold, while important to have them defined for ourselves,  take a much smaller role in living the Unitarian Universalist faith.  The real question, the vital question is how do we translate our theologies, creeds, doctrines into our day to day relationships with one another.  In short, how do you eat your grits?  Are you going to be able to relate to people who come from a very different background, a different culture, a different theological perspective on what is true and still find common ground?

This is where our work is.  This is what defines our faith as different from other faiths.  16th century Unitarian minister Francis David is quoted as saying, “We do not have to think alike to love alike.”   It does, however, help if our thinking, our theologies, our doctrines, and our personally held creeds aid us in loving alike.  If they do not help us in loving our neighbor as ourselves or to do onto others as we would want others to  do onto us,  then it may be time to reconsider our theologies, our doctrines, or our personally held creeds.

Our Unitarian Universalist faith is not concerned with whether you are a Christian or a Humanist, a Buddhist or a Muslim, a Pagan or a Jew.  Our faith is more concerned with how the doctrines of those beliefs help you build sustaining loving relationships with others.

If your beliefs empower you to be more loving, more generous, more able to fulfill your highest potential, more able to be just in your relationships, then that is what is vital to this life.  If they hinder you from being inclusive of the other, cause you to shun and fear others who are different, solicit an attitude of me and mine first, then those beliefs are not serving you well. It might be best to either let them go or re-examine them to find how they can aid you in living a more generous of spirit and heart life.

Unitarian Universalists recognize that what enables one person to become more loving and more generous may not enable another to do so.  And so for one person Christianity may be the path that empowers this love, for another it may be Buddhism, and for yet another it may be one of the Earth centered faiths. This is reflected in our fourth principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

Rev. Doak Mansfield, former minister at Our Home Universalist,  once stated that Unitarian Universalism in the deep south is about grace and relationships.  We best express our faith in how we relate to one another.  It is our personal relationships that are our best calling card for our faith.   It is also in how we develop our public witness for justice.  The desire to create partnerships with those who are oppressed and to follow their lead towards freedom.  Grace and relationships.

Wherever two or more are gathered, it is in the relational aspect of the gathering that the spirit of love is either present or absent.  Unitarian Universalists strive to allow the spirit of love to be present.  That is the essence of our faith the rest, to paraphrase Hillel, is commentary.

Blessings,

Legal but not Moral

” It’s not a moral issue at all- it’s an issue of legality,”  wrote a commenter on an earlier post. This person wrote further attempting to argue his point.  It is an interesting comment but one that holds very little water.  If obeying the laws of the land were the only determinant of what is moral and just, then this writer has some merit in his argument.  However, there are many laws that have been passed by the US government in its 235 year history that have been legal and immoral.

And there are many examples in other governments where what is legal has not been what is moral.  But let’s just look at American history at the legal laws have been passed that have been immoral.  The laws that were passed that removed the indigenous people from their homelands were immoral.  The laws that enslaved a people were immoral, including the laws that required slaves to show their papers, giving them the right to be away from the plantation, to any white person they met on the road. (Does this sound familiar?)  The laws that banned the vote from non-landholders, women, and blacks.  The laws that sent the CIA, our soldiers, and trained militants from the School of the Americas  (SOA) into combat to destabilize governments in Central and South America (Nicaragua, Columbia, Guatemala, Chile, and Argentina as examples). And laws that then will not grant amnesty to the refugees of these countries because we are allies with the SOA trained dictators.  Laws that banned  interracial  marriage and same gender marriage.  Laws that banned races and genders of people from access to education and employment opportunities. All very legal, but not very moral.

Morality has to do with how we are with one another.  Morality is expressed in how we treat other people.  So when actions are coercive against another, that is considered to be immoral.  The laws that demean another being; whether female, or of another race, or ethnicity, or nationality are also considered to be immoral. Jim Crow laws of the 20th century while very legal were not moral because they went against the very fabric of all of our religions’ tenets that teach us to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated.

It is therefore deemed as immoral those actions that are done against another that are not of the person’s fault.  Therefore the laws that deport children who were brought here as young children is seen as immoral because to deport them means removing them from the only culture and, in some cases, the only language that they know. The laws targeting children by checking their citizenship status before attending school  and placing families at risk in defiance of Federal law of education regardless of status are immoral.  Deporting young people into Mexico who only speak English and know nothing of that country other than it is the country of their parents is immoral.  Actions that attack the family unit are seen as immoral.  When mothers and/or fathers are deported and children are made wards of the state, this as in immoral act against the family.

The Federal law regarding immigration is an immoral  law. One such federal law, The Secure Communities Act that instead of targeting violent criminals who are here without documentation is targeting the undocumented that if they were able to enter the country legally would make the ideal citizen. But our federal process is racist, convoluted, arduous, decades long to complete, and outrageously expensive. The process itself is immoral and unjust.

The states passing their own versions of attrition through enforcement laws are also immoral laws.   Landlords become accomplices to ICE  by having to check residency papers before being able to rent to people of their choice.  States are targeting churches and domestic violence shelters who transport people to their services, which under these laws are being charged with felonies for human trafficking and harboring undocumented.  These laws are immoral because they limit civil and religious liberties.

Employers are being mandated to use E-Verify, an employment data base that only is able to screen 46% of the workplace with any sort of accuracy. This system does nothing to intercept those engaged in identity theft. Citizens are being told they are not legal in the US to work and are losing their employment. And while a first denial has a limited time window to check for errors, employers are simply denying employment rather than do the legwork to verify the information as correct.  Employees are not being told why they are being let go.  The process is seriously flawed and creates an unjust system that harms peoples ability to support themselves.

The federal and state laws addressing immigration have to be reformed.  There needs to be a humane process for acquiring citizenship in this country.  It can be done and it can be done in a manner that is morally and ethically sound.

Yes, it may be very legal to pass such laws.  But at some point, one has to make a decision as to which law one will obey.  The laws of the land or the laws of conscience that guide our behaviors in how we treat our human family.  I will obey the laws of conscience.  My faith demands that of me.  What does your faith demand of you?