THE LONG VIEW: Church could show a more heavenly manner

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A woman from my old neighborhood got divorced a while back. Getting together recently to catch up, she told me something sad.

It seems that a few months after her marriage ended, the leaders at her church sent a letter rescinding her membership in that congregation for failing to return to her husband. This church, where she had found great solace in the past, had made no attempt to offer her support through a difficult time; she was hurt their only overture was, essentially, to reject her.

A woman from my old neighborhood got divorced a while back. Getting together recently to catch up, she told me something sad.

It seems that a few months after her marriage ended, the leaders at her church sent a letter rescinding her membership in that congregation for failing to return to her husband. This church, where she had found great solace in the past, had made no attempt to offer her support through a difficult time; she was hurt their only overture was, essentially, to reject her.

They certainly made it clear she broke the rules as they see them, but couldn’t they have first shown a little humanity?

I thought about her while reading a piece in Sept. 25 issue of the New York Times about unease over the U.S. government’s pledge over the next year to accept at least 10,000 refugees fleeing from civil war in Syria.

Some local, state, and national politicians have rushed to fan the flames of fear, grimly vowing to look into threats posed by any sizable Syrian migration. Jittery citizens have been quick to repeat unsubstantiated charges about the danger of welcoming these evacuees.

In the article, a local businessman declares the newcomers would have no intention of adopting the American way of life. Local and state officials bemoan the federal government's inability to weed out radical Islamists from those who would come to the US, and worry that a wave of unfortunates from the Middle East would diminish American culture.

A John Birch Society adherent swears the resettlement plan is another step toward creating a New World Order. And one woman alleges ours is a “Judeo-Christian nation” in which the predominantly Muslim newcomers would not fit, while another claims Communists have become influential in the Christian Evangelical movement, all the better to bring in more immigrants and weaken our country from within.

I gaze at images of these huddled masses risking their lives for a safe place to live, and I wonder what our fearful citizens see when they look at the same thing. Can't they see human beings in desperate need?

It is ugly and depressing that so many in this, a country overwhelmingly settled by immigrants, cannot see beyond their own worries when it comes to welcoming others. It is disheartening when our leaders use such a crisis to gain political advantage over their opponents. And it is appalling that so much of this is done in the name of a man who taught the paramount importance of loving one another.

It seems my friend's church knows a lot of verses from the Bible, but they surely do not know what the book is all about, just like too many of our fellow Americans do not understand what made this country great, let alone what is preached on Sunday.

We are called to feed the hungry, shelter the lost, and comfort the afflicted no matter who they are, even if we are afraid. If we cannot see the faces of our brothers and sisters in the faces of refugees from Syria or anywhere, I have to wonder why we are unable to show a little humanity.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com

THE LONG VIEW: Church could show a more heavenly manner