Watching the president deliver his second inaugural address, amid our commemoration and celebration of Dr. King's legacy, I was reminded of my personal responsibility, as a pastor in particular, to advocate for justice. For many people of faith, this call is not just one of conscience, but also of commandment.
In Isaiah 58, the Lord promises that "if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." Each movement toward justice beckons allies, those who are not directly impacted, to stand in solidarity with those whose lives and rights have been hindered by systems of inequality and prejudice.
On Jan. 22, people of faith across the country nation bore witness to this mandate as it relates to our immigrant brothers and sisters. How could we not, when members of our congregations are afraid to report crimes for fear of deportation; when our neighbors have been separated from their families for years due to lengthy visa backlogs; when entire communities are cast aside and labeled "illegal" in contradiction to their God-given worth?
People of faith are answering the call to right the wrongs of an unjust immigration system. On Jan. 22, on the heels of the President's inauguration and Dr. King's birthday, thousands of pastors, lay clergy, and people in the pews called their Senators and urged them to enact immigration reform that prioritizes family unity and creates a pathway to full citizenship for those who, but for mere papers, are Americans in heart and contribution.
This national faith call-in day for immigration reform was not the call of one organization, but the collective call of people of faith and good conscience who advance Christ's vision through thought, word and deed. We hope these efforts bear fruit, and that our policy makers act with moral courage and a commitment to good governance to realize Dr. King's vision of equality and justice for all, including those whose journeys have brought them to toil alongside us for a better day.