Help make Ravalli County a safer place
As the people of the Bitterroot Valley debate who should and who should not be allowed to live here, we have heard much fear, anger and distrust. As pastors, Christians and members of this community, we feel called to speak a different word.
Though the Bible is full of stories of violence and war, sometimes by God’s command, its movement is toward the unity of peoples and love for our neighbors—even our enemies. God promised Abraham that through him “all the peoples on earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12). After freeing the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, God taught them through Moses, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt” (Leviticus 19).
In Jesus, God’s heart for peace is fully displayed (John 1). In days of brutal Roman violence toward his own people, Jesus said, “You have heard it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” In fact, Jesus died at the hands of his enemies, praying from the cross: “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23). Christ calls those who would follow him to pick up our own crosses and offer the same life-giving love to all others (Luke 9).
AdvertisementIt is good and right that our government—national and local—protect our people and our borders. At the same time, it is God’s call through the centuries, taught and lived in Jesus, that God’s people extend our hands in welcome and reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5), even if it costs our own lives.
A life full of anger and fear is not living, is it? Walls and guns won’t keep us safe. Neighbors watching out for one another, communities that speak and act for the benefit of those most in need—these are the ways that make for peace.
So, dear neighbors of many religious traditions or none at all, a challenge: let’s make Ravalli County a safer, better place—one word of welcome, one act of kindness, one prayer, one neighbor at a time.
This opinion is signed by Rev. Brenda Satrum of Faith Lutheran Church in Hamilton; r. James Connor of St. Francis Catholic Community in Hamilton and Darby; Rev. Dudley Rose of First Presbyterian Church in Hamilton; Rev. Richard Reynolds of St. Paul’s and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Churches in Stevensville and Hamilton; and Pr. Wendy Campbell of First Christian Church in Hamilton
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