In every Abrahamic tradition, there is a commandment to welcome the immigrant, to love thy neighbor, to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God. As religious and spiritual leaders we take these commandments seriously, and so do our respective congregations.
We understand that community isn’t given, it’s crafted and honed with great effort. A community, like a family, like a nation, requires patience and sacrifice, understanding and appreciation.
Our nation is like a grand mosaic window through which its diverse collection of people and religions show through in a wondrous display of colors. And our county and its people are part of that glorious art. Who is it that makes up that window, our communities? It is the farmer who sows seed, the police officer keeping our streets safe, the gas station attendant who works around the clock to ensure the engine of commerce never stops, the dreamer who arrived on our nation’s shores to flee war or worse. Our nation consists of a diverse people. But unfortunately, our nation, the land of opportunity, isn’t perfect. But thankfully, it’s perfectible.
History and the nightly news show that there are far too many people, often Black people, Asian people, disabled people and poor people who encounter violence and discrimination at disproportionate rates. This contradicts our respective faiths and furthermore, it’s un-American.
In America, the unalienable rights are “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Happiness cannot be guaranteed, nor can life. But they can be protected through the equal distribution of liberty. And what is liberty? It’s the right to be free within a society from restrictions imposed on someone because of where they’re from, the color of their skin or the way they vote. You see, fellow citizens, this resolution advances the ancient ethical imperatives of our respective religious traditions. It also furthers the hope of our nation, to be a diverse, inclusive and equal place where everyone can thrive.
Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, Lady Liberty holds her flaming torch alight. At the statue’s base is Emma Lazarus’s poem that says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” There are some in our midst who are tired and poor, and many others yearning to breathe free so let us answer that call with “Yes, we hear you!” Let us answer the call of our neighbor with love! Let us answer the call of our neighbor with justice, with mercy, with humility.
This resolution won’t solve every problem but it’s a step, and it’s a step worth taking.
We support Marathon County’s effort to hold itself accountable to the needs of its people. All of them.
Rabbi Benjamin Altshuler, Mt. Siani Congregation, Wausau
Father Tom Lindner, Pastor, St. Anne Catholic Parish, Wausau
The Rev. Brian Mason, Minister, First Universalist Unitarian Church, Wausau
The Rev. Erik Olson, Pastor, First English Lutheran Church, Wausau
The Rev. William J. Schruba, Retired Pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Rev. Gloria Van Houten, Pastor, Peace United Church of Christ, Schofield
The Rev. Rebecca Voss, Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Wausau
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