Thursday, September 20, 2007

Intimidating a Welcoming Congregation

When a church follows its conscience and welcomes the stranger into its midst -- that shouldn't be too controversial. Our mandate as people of faith is to give asylum and care for those in need. Apparently the city of Simi Valley -- not far south from where I live -- doesn't see it that way. In fact it seems that this city doesn't like having such an entity in its midst.
When the other day protesters from an anti-immigrant group chose to picket the church, the scene made our local news. The video of this scene pictured a bunch of angry white folk protesting one small church's actions. This act of kindness on the part of a congregation is an expression of the New Sanctuary Movement and is an expression of social justice. It is in fact a considered response to our government's unwillingness to deal with immigration.
How then did the city deal with this outbreak - -they billed the church approximately $40,000 for police protection. Now this came in spite of the fact that the church had nothing to do with the protest -- except that were offering sanctuary to a woman appealing deportation. The Ventura County Star, a local paper, fortunately has taken the city to task for its silliness and its lack of understanding of the 1st Amendment.
The great thing about the United States of America is that there is freedom of speech (to support legal residency for Liliana, for example); of the press (to publicly announce Liliana is being assisted by the church, for example); of religion (to express religious sentiments that "What we
have is a faith stronger than fear and a belief that doing justice is a high and holy calling," as stated by the Rev. Goudey, for example); and "the right of the people peaceably to assemble," (as exercised by members of Save Our State and counterprotesters at the United Church of Christ on Sunday, for example).

What is the price of exercising and protecting our First Amendment rights?
Forty thousand dollars? A million dollars?
No one on Earth could afford to pay for the First Amendment.
I agree! I want to commend Rev. June Goudey for her courage and her convictions. That she and her congregation is willing to go the distance is truly an expression of Christ's love. I only wish I had the fortitude to do such good work.
thanks to Chuck Currie -- of Portland -- for pointing this out!

1 comment:

Mystical Seeker said...

Wow, that's an incredible story. If cities can bill anyone for expressing opinions that cause others to protest against them, that would pretty much end free speech as we know it. I would hope that this is being subjected to a court challenge.