The story of Jericho from the Hebrew Bible is about Joshua and the Israelites who defeated the city of Jericho by marching around the city seven times and then with a sound of a rams horn, the walls collapsed. The walls of Jericho in our analogy is HB 56 which seeks to divide our state, our communities, and our families between citizens and the undocumented. This wall of division, wall of hatred, wall of racism must come down in order for Alabama to transcend its history and become a state where all people are free to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
On October 2 I led such a walk around First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa. This is the congregation that Governor Bentley attends. The congregation, however, offers hospitality to the immigrant community. They offer several English as a Second Language courses to the Latino and the Chinese immigrant communities here. They provide a vibrant worship community for these immigrants which empowers the ability to live here. They are living their faith tradition which commands its followers to offer hospitality and welcome to the stranger, the foreigner, the immigrant.
So our walk had to be respectful of this ministry and yet point out the contradiction. We decided to thank First Baptist for their hospitality and point out that HB 56, where at least one of their members is a strong proponent, seeks to violate theirs and many others’ faith traditions call to be hospitable.
As we walked around the building, some of the people within looked out the windows and waved. We showed them our signs, “Thank you First Baptist: Hearts Immigrants,” “Somos Tuskaloosa,” “Repeal HB 56,” “Tuscaloosa Welcomes all people,” and “One Family Una Familia.” The on lookers gave us a thumbs up. People in cars going to the church waved. They seemed to get it.
The walls are tumbling down. We will win this. The ram horn of justice is about to blow loud and long.