Yesterday, as the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law, people of faith capped off 48 hours of prayer with a biblically-inspired “Jericho March” around the Supreme Court. More than 150 participants from diverse faith traditions wore white and marched to the sound of trumpets in silent solidarity with those impacted by anti-immigrant laws.
The concept of a “Jericho March” comes from the Book of Joshua:
The LORD said to Joshua…’You shall march around the city… seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. “It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.” (Joshua 6:1-6)
The faith community has been an omnipresent force in the fight to overturn SB 1070 and similar laws across the country on grounds that it criminalizes faith and impugns human dignity. We’ll soon find out whether the Supreme Court agrees with them.
As the Supreme Court weighs the Department of Justice’s case against Arizona’s discriminatory anti-immigrant law SB 1070, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez has an op-ed in The Washington Post reaffirming the USCCB’s opposition to the law and explaining the moral principles behind their position:
Archbishop Gomez’s letter comes on the heels of the USCCB joining the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and the Presbyterian Church (USA) to submit an amicus curiae brief in the case (over 50 other faith-based groups signed a separate brief as well) and the inclusion of this issue as an example of threats to religious freedom in the bishops’ letter on the subject earlier this month.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in United States v. Arizona, the court case challenging The Grand Canyon State’s harsh anti-immigrant law SB 1070.
In preparation for the arguments, more than 100 national faith leaders and local DC clergy kicked off a 48 hour vigil at a press conference this morning to highlight the law’s immoral motivations and dangerous consequences.
Rabbi Noam Marans,Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations for the American Jewish Committee, explained the coalition’s goal:
The diverse religious leadership of America joins together as the conscience of this great nation, to urge our judges to strike down Arizona’s SB 1070 and fulfill the American promise of opportunity and fairness for our immigrant community, reflected in the Biblical proposition that we are all created in God’s image.
Also speaking was Rev. John T. Crestwell, Jr., Associate Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis; Sr. Pat McDermott, RSM,President,Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Father Peter Lyons, TOR, of the Franciscan Action Network; Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing for Sojourners; and Rev. Noel Anderson, Church World Service.
Yesterday, Alabama’s House of Representatives passedHB 658, which makes minor tweaks to HB 56, the draconian anti-immigrant law enacted last year. Unfortunately, as this report from WTVY makes clear, the law would still criminalize people of faith for caring for their neighbors:
Faith leaders have been telling their legislators that these laws violate their religious beliefs. Yesterday’s legislative action in the House was a sad victory for cruel politics. Let’s hope the Alabama Senate chooses compassion over political ideology.
On Wednesday, the Alabama House held multiple hearings on HB 56, the harsh anti-immigrant law enacted last year. Conservatives have offered a few cosmetic tweaks that fail to substantively change the law. In a sign of just how unpopular the law is, the speakers at one committee’s hearing were dominated by opponents of the law. One of those witnesses, Rev. Stephen Jones, who earlier appeared in a TV ad by faith leaders opposing the law, offered this testimony:
JONES: I don’t think this bill reflects who we are in Alabama. We talk a lot about God. In fact the day this bill was introduced on this floor I’m the one that had the prayer that opened this with a prayer. Then we come back with a bill that looks very much not like who we are as a religious people.
Now I’m a Christian so I’m looking at it from a Christian perspective. And I recognize the Christ who said I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. And more importantly I was a stranger and you welcomed me. What you have one to the least of these you have done unto me.
I’m calling on religious people in this state to be honest about their faith. To take the politics out of it and if this is who you say you are religiously you have to stand against this.