The United Methodist's Empathetic Answer to the Refugee Ban

The United Methodist's Empathetic Answer to the Refugee Ban

"Dare we be the conscience of the state?" - Bishop Laurie Haller
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January 27th, 2017. Holocaust Remembrance Day and the day that President Trump signed the Refugee Ban. President Trump banned the entrance of both refugees and citizens from 7 predominately Muslim countries. Needless to say, thousands of people are speaking up, and so are many different organizations.

As an active member of the United Methodist Church, with Iowa as my home Annual conference, I have to say that the news struck me somewhat harder than I expected. John Wesley proclaimed that the world was his parish, and as someone who follows the ways of Wesley, I cannot reach part of my parish. It breaks my heart.

Two United Methodist communities have issued statements on where we as United Methodists stand with the ban.

The United Methodist Women (UMW) released a statement on January 25 stating, "United Methodist Women takes to heart Jesus' commandment to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Throughout our 150-year history, we have carried this out by extending God's love to women, men, youth and children around the world, including immigrants and refugees."

The General Board of Church and Society released a similar statement on January 26th. They called lawmakers to work for "just and compassionate migration policies that affirm the worth, dignity, and inherent values and rights of all persons regardless of nationality or legal status." This calling is the same as what our Book of Resolutions (rule book if you will) #3281.

Bishop Laurie Haller, the current bishop of the Iowa Annual Conference, in a blog post on January 23 asked of us, members of the United Methodist Church, what we dare to do.

"Dare we as United Methodists and all people of faith covenant to support President Trump and his administration by our prayers and encouragement as well as by serving as their conscience? Dare we share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny with people around the world and with creation itself? Dare we work for the day when our nation and world will look like God’s reign, where the poor will go first with the eight richest men bringing up the rear, those earning minimum wage will sit at the places of honor as well as have their wages increased, and those who are rejected because of their skin color, immigration status, or sexual orientation/gender identity are welcomed with open arms? Dare we move from praying, “God, make our country great again; America first!” to “God, use us as your servants to make every corner of our world safe and whole again”?"

We, as United Methodists and of people of all faiths need to covenant to support President Trump and all of his administration in both prayer and encouragement. We need to share the shame heart, home, and destiny with people around the entire world. I answer Bishop Laurie's call, putting first all the people of God's Church.

Reba McEntire this week released her new single. It has gained the attention of many and made its rounds on social media. We need to give this world back to God. Because without him, we are nothing.


Take a minute, listen to her words. Take a moment, think about what you can do. Take a moment, and pray for our leaders. Let us be the conscience of the state once again.

Cover Image Credit: Be Artist Be Art

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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