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Hallo again to all.

This week much of the world has turned their attention to Russia and the World Cup—the quadrennial football tournament which brings together some of the best footballers from around the world for a month of matches. While not every national team can qualify for the event, it's not difficult to find a team for which to pull. The World Cup brings people together in stadia, in pubs and living rooms across the globe, cementing new friendships and sometimes dividing families, but in the name of sport and fun.

Our own corner of the world is bereft of the enthusiasm for football prevalent in the rest of world. There are, of course, pubs airing many matches and streams of the games available, but our social media feeds are filled with two contrasting streams: posts reading 'GOAL' from our friends in other nations and posts chronicling the devastating separation of children from families applying for asylum by the United States government from friends at home. We can scarcely imagine the conditions these asylum seekers are leaving that they would risk prison and concentration camp conditions for themselves and overcrowded cages in former warehouses for their children. Prominent American officials have cited Romans 13—a passage used over a century ago to defend and promote African slavery in the West. Further, the 'law' they are claiming to be following does not exist as they claim in the United States‡.

We are reminded of the line often attributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels:

'If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.'

It seems that many within the administration thinks that by repeatedly claiming that the actions of asylum seekers are illegal, they will somehow make it so. Moves are being further made to deport permanent residents, and now remove citizenship obtained by naturalization from some*. As Christians, we are called first to follow Christ, to love God and one another. Yet those who claim to hold the Christian flag most firmly in the West are often those who are Nationalists of their respective countries or Supremacists of their race or ethnic group, viewing all those made in the image of God in Genesis not as good, but somehow inferior. From the refugees seeking asylum from Syria and the Middle East, to those fleeing war in Sudan, and violence in Central America, with joy and fanfare we welcome many of these same people to the football pitch that we shun in our hometowns. Many of us are more intent on keeping our own comfort and security than living the life Christ called us to live. And it is scary. It should be. Many of us are stunned. Religious leaders—from Anglicans to Roman Catholics, to Baptists, Jews, and Muslim—have spoken out, but the current state has left many of us paralyzed. We know that we need to speak up but have trouble reconciling our polite education not 'to talk about politics' with our call as Christians.

As World War II era German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller wrote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.†

In two weeks, the Episcopal Church (USA) will host its Triennial General Convention in Austin, Texas. Elected clerical and lay deputies from the province's 110 dioceses representing 10 countries and Churches in Europe will worship, pray, debate, and legislate resolutions ranging from liturgical and committee size changes to continued support to providing sanctuary to undocumented residents within that province. Also among the legislation is a plea for marriage equality within all dioceses of that province, which incidentally (or perhaps not so) continues to focus on another group targeted by 1940s era Nazis. Allowances are currently at the bishop's discretion, leaving eight dioceses (seven of which are in the United States) without that rite for LGBT individuals to varying degrees. Several couples from the Diocese of Dallas have put together this video telling their stories.

We see before us, on our screens and in our lives, opportunities to live as Christ's followers. There will always be bits of scripture we can use to support our inaction against gross inequalities and injustices, but stronger is the command we love one another as Christ has loved us.

So what do we do now? How do we work for change in the midst of war, building fires, the caging of humans, and increased nationalism across the world? Let us know your ideas and actions.

In the meantime, we'll be here, taking some degree of relief that we can all still meet together on the football pitch.

See you again next week.

Our Signatures

All of us at Anglicans Online

17 June 2018

‡See also
*A trial a close relative of ours may have not survived as she fled Nazi Germany with stolen papers, though her apparent race may have protected her today. 
†'Niemöller's earliest speeches, written in 1946, list the Communists, incurable patients, Jews or Jehovah's Witnesses, and civilians in countries occupied by Nazi Germany. In all versions, the impact is carefully built up, by going from the "smallest, most distant" group to the largest, Jewish, group, and then finally to himself as a by then outspoken critic of Nazism.' See

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