By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

Fear of “the other” was a stowaway aboard the Mayflower in 1620 and the Arabella 10 years later. Before the Puritans landed in Massachusetts, John Winthrop’s ringing speech, “A Model of Christian Charity,” delivered aboard the Arabella, set the parameters for who’s in and who’s out when he said Boston would be a “city upon a hill” for all to emulate.

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Sister Alan Wurth, ASC, shows her support for accepting refugees

That tightly knit community did not look kindly upon outsiders, and their descendants were the nativists of the 19th century who hated Catholics, Jews, and anyone seen as the other.

The irony of the title, “A Model of Christian Charity,” colors the background of today’s fear of immigrants, those others who seem to threaten the way things are.

Is our country a model of Christian charity? The inflammatory rhetoric against Muslims, Syrians, and others stirs fear and unthinking hate. The rhetoric outweighs any compassion evoked by images of distraught refugees fleeing Syria.

Some U.S. governors want to ban Syrian refugees from their states. In the wake of the Paris attacks, the U.S. House passed a bill restricting Iraqi and Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. and imposing more security measures. A registry of Muslims could be one short step away from internment camps.

The Gospel message is clear and simple: We are all brothers and sisters, all children of God. When we fear the other, we fear some deeply hidden part of ourselves. Our Muslim brothers and sisters deserve more than hateful rhetoric and misunderstanding. A true model of Christian charity calls for compassion, understanding, and love.

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Photos taken by sisters in our Ruma Center to show support for refugees being welcomed and received.

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