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The bible does not tell us to abuse children and families who seek refuge in the U.S.

We are witnessing examples of just how confused the American government is about the Christian position on the treatment of people seeking refuge.

Within the past day White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders and top U.S. law enforcement official Jeff Sessions have said the increasingly hostile treatment (including separating babies and children from their parents) of people arriving at U.S. borders seeking asylum is authorized by the Bible.

Sanders said demands to follow the law is “very biblical,” and Sessions said “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

Both of them wore suspicious grins as they awkwardly dispense the biblical talk, as if they knew they were on shaky ground.

Evangelicals show declining worth as moral leaders and too much misguided nationalism if we allow false prophets and leaders to narrow the Word for political purposes (in this case, to justify traumatizing babies and children by separating them from their mothers and fathers) and oversimplify God’s guidance on migration, people seeking refuge, and how we are to treat foreigners.

The following is a progression of biblical passages from the United Church of Christ that develop a picture of how the inerrant Word views our relationship to people migrating or seeking refuge.

Genesis 3:22-24 – Adam and Eve are forced out of the Garden.

Genesis 7 and 8 – Noah builds an ark and takes refuge from the flood.

Genesis 12:1 – The call of Abram:  “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

Genesis 12:10 – “Now there was a famine in the land.  So Abram went down to Egypt to reside there as an alien, for the famine was severe in the land.”

Genesis 19 – Lot takes his family and flees Sodom.

Genesis 23 – Abraham is a stranger and an alien in the land of Canaan.

Genesis 46:1-7 – Jacob moves his family to Egypt to escape the famine and reunite with Joseph.

Genesis 47: 1-6 – Joseph brings his brothers to Pharaoh and they are welcomed and given jobs.

Exodus 1:8-14 – Joseph’s generation is gone, and the Egyptians oppress the Israelites.  “Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor.”

Exodus 1:15-2:10 – Pharaoh orders all the Hebrew boy babies to be killed, but Moses is hidden and is saved by Pharaoh’s daughter.

Exodus 12:37-39 – The Israelites were driven out of Egypt so fast they had no time to make provisions and had to bake unleavened cakes of bread.

Exodus 12:49 and Leviticus 24:22 – “There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.”

Exodus 22:21 – Moses gives God’s law:  “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Leviticus 19:9-10 and 23:22 – Moses gives God’s law:  “You shall not strip your vineyards bare…leave them for the poor and the alien.”

Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22 – When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt:  I am the Lord your God.”
Leviticus 24:23 – Moses receives God’s law:  “With me you are but aliens and tenants.”

Numbers 9:14 and 15:15-16 – “…you shall have one statute for both the resident alien and the native.”

Numbers 35 and Joshua 20 – The Lord instructs Moses to give cities of refuge to the Levites so that when the Israelites must flee into Canaan they may have cities of refuge given to them.

Deuteronomy 1:16 – “Give the members of your community a fair hearing, and judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or resident alien.”

Deuteronomy 6:10-13 – The people of Israel are made aware that the land had come to them as a gift from God and they were to remember that they were once aliens.

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 – “For the Lord your God…loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.  You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 14:28-29 and 26:12-13 – Tithing was begun, in part, for resident aliens.

Deuteronomy 24:14   – “You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land…”

Deuteronomy 24:17-18 – “You shall not deprive a resident alien…of justice.”

Deuteronomy 24:19-22 – Leave sheaf, olives, grapes for the alien.

Deuteronomy 26:5 – A wandering Aramean was my ancestor…

Deuteronomy 27:19 – “Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien…of justice.”

I Chronicles 22:1-2 – Aliens were important in building the temple.

I Chronicles 29:14-15 – David praises God:  “We are aliens and transients before you…”

II Chronicles 2:17-18 – Solomon took a census of all the aliens and assigned them work.

Psalm 105 – Remembering their sojourn:  “When they were few in number, of little account, and strangers in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people,…”

Psalm 137:1-6 – “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept…How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”

Psalm 146:9 – “The Lord watches over the strangers…”

Ecclesiastes 4:1 – “Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them.”

Isaiah 16:4 – Be a refuge to the outcasts of Moab.

Jeremiah 7:5-7 – “If you do not oppress the alien…then I will dwell with you in this place…”

Jeremiah 22:3-5 – Do no wrong or violence to the alien.

Ezekiel 47:21-22 – The aliens shall be to you as citizens, and shall also be allotted an inheritance.

Zechariah 7:8-10 – Do no oppress the alien.

Malachi 3:5 – The messenger will bear witness against those who thrust aside the alien.

Matthew 2:13-15 – Jesus and parents flee Herod’s search for the child.

Matthew 5:10-11 –“Blessed are those who are persecuted.”

Matthew 25:31-46 – “…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Luke 3:11 – “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none…”

Luke 4:16-21 – “…Bring good news to the poor…release to the captives…sight to the blind…let the oppressed go free.”

Romans 12:13 – “Mark of the true Christian: “…Extend hospitality to strangers…”

II Corinthians 8:13-15 – “It is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need…”

Ephesians 2:11-22 – “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.”

Hebrews 11 – “By faith Abraham…set out for a place…not knowing where he was going.”

Hebrews 13:1-2 – “…show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels…”

James 2:5 – “Has not God chosen the poor in the world…”

James 2:14-17 – “What good is it…if you say you have faith but do not have works?”

I John 3:18 – “…Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”

I John 4:7-21 – “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God…”  We love because God first loved us.”

Pursuing the power of self-sovereignty and personalized learning to create secure citizens and abundant communities. #TheOppositeOfSchool #AllPowerToThePupil

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If your presidential debate isn’t fit for kids, you’re not fit to be president

The sad presidential debate

In a time when concerns about public health are stealing precious learning time from America’s children, it’s sad that this week’s presidential debate was another dispiriting lesson in failed leadership.

As citizens, we should expect the contest for the American presidency a top civics learning opportunity, but instead, we got schoolyard rock-throwing on Tuesday that wasn’t worthy of our children’s eyes, ears, or seat time.

That’s a shameful sign of three-plus errant years of declining decorum and lost integrity at the top of the American leadership pile – mostly because a lout has led us into moral anarchy.

If a president is the nation’s exemplar of our values and virtues, a presidential debate is a test, then Donald J. Trump spells trouble. The president I saw on Tuesday was a peevish and sweating example of everything I teach my kids not to be. He was rude, accusatory, irresponsible, blame-shifting, dishonest, and, worst of all, a nasty bully.

Let’s be honest here, if Trump were a Black 6th-grader behaving this way in a Houston classroom, he might be suspended and not allowed to return until his parents met with school staff about his self-regulation challenges.

Now, this is where I’m supposed to dazzle you with my broadmindedness by pointing out ways in which Biden fell short too.

Hard pass.

That form of mindless bothsiderism is a shortcut to thinking and judgment. It’s not good for a responsible citizen and fails as an appropriate example for children.

Unlike the president, I don’t see value in teaching our children to equate white supremacists with the convenient ghost of Antifa or the political cartoon of Black Lives Matter. To overstate something moral and obvious: There are no “very fine people” who are so spitting mad about the existence of non-whites that they descend on communities with tiki torches chanting “Jews will not replace us.”

If I fault Biden for anything, it’s not being assertive enough about centering these mass-media opportunities on the nation’s children. In my view, his education plan is expensively inconsequential concerning the things that matter most, but are talked about least: quality teaching, learning to standards, evidence-based educational interventions, and academic outcomes that close gaps between the haves and have-nots.

I waited for his promise to move hell and Earth, unions and bureaucrats, publics and privates, lefties and right-wingers, to ensure every American child gets a practical education that prepares her for life in the economic mainstream (a promise that every president since Lyndon Johnson has made), but instead, the former Vice President mostly shadow-boxed the patently erratic orangish gentleman to his right.

My friends, please expect more. When these two private school parents who want to lead the free world take the stage next time to present competing visions for where we should go as a people, let’s hold them to two demands.

Trump v. Biden: who will stand for children in the next presidential debate?

First, they commit to being appropriate examples for our children of how great Americans behave, think, and debate. Or, let them disqualify themselves for failing on that point.

Second, they explicitly detail how their policies will prepare the next generation to be productive members of a free country. They must articulate a plan for systems and policies that allow children to learn in ways that best suit them.

We are so far from that now. Poor academic outcomes for racial minorities, students in poverty, and students with special needs are all too enduring. For example, in most states, less than a quarter of Black students read or perform math proficiently. Non-white students get the worst prepared teachers who – as research tells us – hold implicit biases against them. Further, students of color are more often identified for negative discipline consequences than for gifted programs (even when they don’t qualify for the former and do qualify for the latter).

At the same, education bureaucracies stifle the creativity of teachers through endless standardization. Their lobbying groups fight the emergence of innovative schools and programs that come from chartering laws. Their programs too often limit the most advanced students by gearing the system to a catch-all, mediocre middle.

On top of all that, legacy debts that were born of poor financial decisions compound over time and rob our students of their full per-pupil income by paying for yesterday’s obligations at the expense of tomorrow’s promise.

All the while, we lament the mythical cuts to education funding as the bill for public miseducation and its systemic failures escalates annually.

Hopefully, when they meet again, both candidates seeking our votes in the upcoming election will have something profound to say about how we change the game for students and families. 

The candidates need to can speak to raising the expectations for results in education. We need to know how colleges can prepare better teachers for the classroom and how schools can better support them once they are there. Above all, we need to hear how these candidates can provide more resources directly to families so they can determine how, when, where, and what their children learn. We need a moonshot for things like getting all cities, towns, and rural areas wired with broadband and how we expand the educational opportunities diverse families need.

I’ll be watching the next presidential debate for all that and hoping against hope that two candidates worthy of the nation they want to lead show up with all their best faculties on display. Above all else, I hope they remember the children.

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Crisis parenting isn’t easy, and carry on

We can't help our children by living in our powerlessness

Who will ever tally the toll of mass school closings that have put many families into crisis parenting mode? I’m not sure, but the media messages we get need to be more informative.

There are too many stories about how the sky is falling, and too few about what we can do about it.

Let me use a scenario and to two people.

The scenario: you’re in an elevator in a tall Chicago building with two other people. There is a big bump that jolts the elevator, the lights flicker, and you can tell something bad could be happening.

Person numero uno in the elevator with you starts screaming “we’re going to die!

This is the end!

Person numero dos is calm. She appears to be assessing the situation and considering possibilities for escape.

Person numero uno is the media. He uses words like “disaster” to describe challenges parents face with remote learning. It’s godawful he says. Too hard. Kids hate the new normal. The technology glitches out constantly or bores or confuses them. Teachers cry online. Parents suck at teaching. It’s nearly impossible to stay on top of kids and their studies while also working (for those privileged enough to work from home).

Along those lines, columnist Peg Tyre wrote in Forbes last spring “[r]eality is dawning that parents of school-aged children can’t work and educate their children at the same time.”

I take issue with that. Parents can and must educate their children, even while balancing other demands of life. Even during a global pandemic. There is no other option. Period.

Damnit, that’s what being a parent means. You signed up for it. Now do it.

I suggest you consult with Person numero dos. She won’t tell you what you want to hear (that you’re a martyr and woe is you), but she’ll say what you need to hear (toughen up buttercup).

No, life isn’t always convenient.

Yes, you’re in possibly the toughest situation ever.

Yet, worshipping the problem won’t make it less tough. These are your kids and you were always responsible for moving mountains to get them the education they deserve. Schooling has made it easy for you to idle on autopilot, but no more.

I’m not saying Person number uno is wrong to be alarmed. Reality is on his side. There will be negative consequences of closed schools and the curtailing of daily classroom instruction. It will almost certainly stunt the academic growth of children under-resourced families.

We weren’t prepared to turn our homes into makeshift schools without warning. We quickly feel inadequate about assisting our kids. They keep asking us about concepts we haven’t studied in years. We also worry about the looming social emotional and mental health consequences of the isolation of quarantine.

Some will say I’m glossing over the wildly different financial and social situations families live in. Obviously the single parent with a job in hospitality faces far greater challenges than telecommuting professionals currently forming learning pods for their kids. And yet, no matter where you live on the economic totem wallowing won’t help you or your children. Only character will.

I see story after story about the inequities that will be widened because wealthier parents are hiring tutors or teachers and setting up their own micro-schools. Recognizing that as true doesn’t absolve anyone from having to answer the most powerful question: “what am I going to do?

Who has the information that will help us do our best for our kids wherever they are? What is our inventory of resources, connections, and skillsets?

What power do we have that we aren’t using?

Panic and pity will always be inferior to extreme ownership and stress management in my mind. The best thing we can teach children right now is how to confront adversity with a clear head and fortitude.

To that end, it’s time for Person number dos to tell Person numero uno to sit down, zip it, and speak only when spoken to. This is crisis parenting and we should aim to win.

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Children and families are hurting while you take selfies

Families are having a tough time and that’s especially hard on children. So, you’d think that would generate empathy and generosity. Instead, it looks like selfish gene has taken over.

Let me not overstate the problem. But a New York Times story about the ugly and petty clashes pitting Silicon Valley workers with children vs. the those without children is sad commentary on where we are.

Consider this:

When Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, hosted a companywide videoconference on Aug. 20, more than 2,000 employees voted to ask her what more Facebook could do to support nonparents, since its other policies had benefited parents.

The question struck a nerve. An employee wrote in comments accompanying the video feed that it was “unfair” that nonparents could not take advantage of the same leave policy afforded parents. Another wrote that while the procedure for taking leave was usually difficult, it was “easy breezy” for parents.

This problem repeated at Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google. Inter-office chats raged with childless employees expressing frustration with their co-workers who have children, and working parents firing back.

 

A key to understanding the conflict, at least in my mind, is this snippet from the story: “[the problem is] where workers tend to be younger and have come to expect generous perks and benefits in exchange for letting their jobs take over their lives.”

This is an indictment of the always-on self-loving generation who demand to compensated greatly for losing themselves into work (something that is killing them). 

It’s also a mark against the previous generation that parented them during the self-esteem movement which produced little more than entitlement and isolation.

We should fear repeating those detachment issues with today’s kids who are out-of-school and living through Chromebooks, iPads, and iPhones.

Isn’t it telling the Times’ story is set at tech companies? They are basically narcissism factories providing clout chasing ME-llennials digital tools to live that selfie life, why wouldn’t they attract workers who put their wants ahead of the needs of others.?

Can we really expect the generation that swipes left or right for love to demonstrate genuine empathy? Can we get them to look up from their app long enough to see 9 million of their fellow Americans have dropped out of work to care for children or an elder relative? 

These families don’t have employer-paid wading pools, bike repair shops, free meals, and doggie cafes – but, who cares?

But, they should. We all should. I’m as libertarian as the next guy, but your issues will often become “our” issues. 

Nearly one in five working adults reports not working because the pandemic shuttered childcare options. That’s crazy.

According to the federal government “Of those not working, women ages 25-44 are almost three times as likely as men to not be working due to childcare demands.”

I don’t know when we stopped believing that children and their parents should be a policy priority? And, no, it isn’t one generation of us suffering from an empathy deficit. America is afflicted with that as a whole.

I don’t have an answer for what workplaces do to make their childless workers feel they have benefits equal to working parents, but I know more than ever we need everyone to put kids first.

If not, we’ll all face death by selfie.

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