Open Letter to Gov. Abbott (re: Cleveland shootings)

Dear Gov Abbott, I am writing you as a Christian pastor, and calling out your inclusion of the phrase “illegal immigrant” in your tweet regarding the senseless murders of five innocent people in Cleveland, Texas.

I would remind you how our common faith in Jesus Christ insists that “In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, Slave or Free” (Galatians 3: 28); and that Hebrew Scripture repeatedly tell us that “there shall be one law for you and the immigrant.” (Duet. 28: 19).

God’s Biblical law does not draw distinctions between “citizens” and “non-citizens.” The witness of Jesus’ ministry shows how he cared for, and included, those from foreign lands in God’s Kingdom.

In short, God is very clear that anyone who claims Christian faith must treat citizens and immigrants alike —regardless of status— with Christian compassion.

Therefore, I ask…

Why in THIS CASE did you place the phrase “illegal immigrant” on the heads of these innocent victims?
Even small children?!
Why not a simply prayer for them, as human beings?
Why not a reminder to all Texans that their lives were of value?

Did you make reference to the legal status of anyone involved in the Uvalde shooting?
The shooting of a cheerleader at HEB?

Of course you did not.

But you and your administration continue to use otherize immigrants as pawns in your political games, resulting in their dehumanization in the eyes of their neighbors. We recall the callous and dehumanizing way you bused immigrants to freezing Washington streets, during the week of Christmas.

I can only assume your goal here is to turn attention away from the scourge of unregulated guns plaguing our state and instead stir up outrage against a marginalized group.

This is not leadership, and it is certainly not Christian.

No one deserves to die at the hands of a neighbor. No family gathering, no school day, no church meeting, no one going about their daily lives in the State of Texas —whether they be immigrant or citizen— deserves death at the hands of guns. Innocent victims such as these at the very least deserve our care and compassion.

I call on you to repent, and do better in the future.

Your brother in Christ,
Rev. Eric Folkerth

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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