Normally I try to stay away from politics in this column, but today I may come close.
We have all seen reports of the sad conditions in the immigrant processing centers on our southern borders. Administration officials say that things are not as bad as the media report, while Democrats in Congress assail Homeland Security persons for permitting inhumane living quarters for those seeking refuge in the United States.
When you think about it, the thousands of people flooding into our country each day place a tremendous challenge for the border patrol. America has always been a welcoming nation for those seeking asylum from horrendous conditions in their home countries, but it takes time, money, and careful planning to provide for adequate, temporary shelter for them.
Right now it seems that every problem facing our government automatically becomes a political issue. If Congress and the administration could address border control as a humanitarian concern — and put aside partisan differences — progress would be made much faster and more efficiently.
One resource that is already in place and seeking to help the refugees is the outreach programs of American churches. People of faith understand that their religion calls them to reach out in compassion and love, without judging or discriminating. A government effort to coordinate the church programs with its own policies could go far toward easing the pressure of border migration challenges.
Most church denominations are currently working to do what they can to tackle the problems. Mainline Protestants, evangelicals, Roman Catholics, and ecumenical organizations are all at work doing what they can, but often find that the government will not accept their donations or offers of help because of a concern for the separation of church and state.
But in this situation both government and religion have a common goal: to reach out in welcoming compassion to the thousands of refugees clamoring to enter the safe and comfortable haven of the United States. When they both work together it should be much easier and more effective to deal with the problems.
This column has occasionally taken churches to task for their narrowness and unwillingness to cooperate with other religious bodies with whom they disagree. But there should be no reason for any group to refuse to work with other persons of faith — or even those of no faith — in extending welcoming programs and services.
Most church groups are already seeking to work and give in creative ways to touch the human needs that are crying out so loudly on our southern border. Let’s hope that they all will be able to develop cooperative ways to answer those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Harry Bronkar is a retired Baptist minister living in Seven Lakes. Contact him at hbronkar @gmail.com.