Amid political debates over immigration reform, one politician has offered a bold religious response. Last week, Democratic Gov. Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts said he would temporarily provide shelter for 1,000 of the immigrant children detained by the U.S. government, citing personal faith as his inspiration.
"I believe that we will one day have to answer for our actions and our inactions," Patrick said at a press conference. "My faith teaches that if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him but rather love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."
The Washington Post published a video of the press conference, courtesy of WGGB and WCVB.
Patrick, a Presbyterian, was likely referencing Exodus 22:21, which reads: "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."
Patrick's comments came as part of an announcement about potential locations to house the children. He also addressed resistance to the plan, emphasizing that the shelter would be "managed, paid for and staffed entirely by the federal government," The Boston Globe reported.
This federal support hasn't stopped other state leaders from rejecting requests for housing, the Boston Globe noted. Patrick's response is notable not only because of his willingness to offer shelter, but also for his many references to religious themes.
"Every major faith tradition on the planet charges its followers to treat others as we ourselves wish to be treated. I don't know what good there is in faith if we can't, and won't turn to it in moments of human need," Patrick told the gathered reporters.
CBS reported that Patrick stood beside religious leaders at the state house while delivering his remarks. His "voice cracked with emotion briefly as he talked about helping people in need."
Unfortunately for the governor, some of the state's other political leaders don't support his conclusions. The Boston Globe included a comment from Rep. Bradley H. Jones Jr., who, although appreciative of "the desire to be sympathetic and helpful," doesn't approve of sharing state resources with the immigrant children.
Patrick's faith-based hospitality is likely more favorably viewed among religious leaders, many of whom are leading efforts to support the immigrant children. "Churches and faith-based organizations are getting involved in the issue at several different levels, from meeting with politicians to turning their buildings into temporary shelters to simply offering prayers," Deseret News National reported.
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