Twisted Words, Cruel Intent

Scripture should bring us together, not drive us apart

We were extremely disheartened to read Lamar Smith’s attempts to use scripture to justify the Trump Administration’s reprehensible acts against children and families on our southern border (Rep. Lamar Smith: Scripture Opposes Amnesty, Breitbart, 11 July 2018).

And we have to wonder: who was the intended audience? The bigotry, fear, and sophistry Rep. Smith promotes in no way reflects our own religious paths or the community values we’ve experienced as candidates in TX-21. On the contrary, it’s been made very clear that Texans are sick and tired of divisive politics and party hardliners who refuse to accept the reality that they’ve failed in their duties as policymakers, consensus builders, and humanitarians.

We’ve both been to the border recently — something neither Rep. Smith nor his chosen successor Chip Roy can claim (or were willing to share publicly) — to see with our own eyes what’s going on and to cut through the rhetoric on both sides of the aisle.

The dehumanization and disarray was devastating but what it revealed was even more infuriating. For over 40 years (Lamar Smith has been in office 32 of those 40 years), the US Congress has failed to effectively address the workforce disparity, out of date immigration laws, and flood of US money to narco-terrorists that’s created the political punching bags we see on the news every night. These men, women, children, peace officers, NGOs, social workers, and religious leaders deserve better.

Everyone deserves better.

But Rep. Smith’s irresponsible attempts to twist scripture to justify his failures is truly shocking. Given his role as the former Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee it further reveals Washington’s attack on the US Constitution.

Since the days of the bewigged French King Louis, we have worked to move steadily away from the idea of a divinely appointed monarch and religious law. America’s Constitution provides an earthbound framework that humankind, whether guided by better nature or a higher power, enforces in the service of humankind. We choose whether to be cruel or to be kind.

We’ll point to just one of the several fallacies in Lamar Smith’s argument that illustrates his willingness to twist sacred words to meet cruel intent.

His very first Biblical reference in the article directs us to Romans 13:1–7: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” But, like US Attorney General Jeff Sessions before him, he omits the next verses.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:8–10 ESV).

Twisting the words of Paul is wrong. And what’s happening at the border is wrong, too. We all deserve better.

Joseph Kopser is the Democratic candidate for the 21st Congressional District in Texas.

Rev. Mary Wilson is currently the pastor of Church of the Savior in Cedar Park, Texas.