Chapter 9: Does “Protecting the Nation” serve America?

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Does Protecting the Nation Serve America?

The bow was wedged in and could not be moved, but the stern began to break up under the pounding . . . Once we reached safety, we learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us extraordinary hospitality; they lit a fire and welcomed all of us because it had begun to rain and was cold (Saint Paul).[1]

The Executive Order 13769 titled Protecting the Nation and its revised version, Executive Order 13780 with the same title, were enacted by President Trump and his administration to ostensibly protect the American people from terrorism (Salama & Caldwell, 2017) “because you don’t know who’s who . . . We can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States” (Jarrett, 2017). According to the President, “hundreds of refugees are under federal investigation for terrorism and related reasons . . . We’re talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people” (Trump, 2017g). Prima facie, the intent behind these two Orders seems good – but is it?

At this time of writing, at the level of law, six courts (and counting) have struck down the two Executive Orders as violating both the letter and the spirit of the US Constitution. Some courts have found that there is no probable cause for the Orders in terms of specific evidence and that taken in the context of their construction, they represent nothing more than codified religious animosity toward a different people and a group of territories.

At the level of Christianity and the moral law, President Trump has been known more than once to pray with evangelical leaders, even in public, and it has been reported that he has a longtime spiritual advisor, the megachurch pastor and televangelist Paula White[2] (Timm, 2017). The President has admitted that “we all are made by the same God” (Trump, 2017g). But this public declaration as well as the no-less-equal and public manifestations of faith, taken in context of the design, construction, rollout, and implementation of Executive Order 13769 as shown in the first chapter and Executive Order 13780, beg the question: Are we really all made by the same God? 

The tenets of Scripture and Catholic Social Doctrine, as expounded throughout history to date by the Popes and the teaching institutions of the Church, have shown that there is zero justification for the enactment of generalized discrimination against migrants and refugees based on the factors of racism, nationalism, populism, and xenophobia. All four of these factors, however, have been evidenced without abatement in at least the upper echelons of the Trump administration – including, but not limited to, the chief strategist who professes to be Catholic – and several of the President’s supporters at large; not to mention at times President Trump himself, whether intended or unintended. The following questions thus arise:

Are we all made by the same God, brothers and sisters all together, sons and daughters of the one Father in the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and beyond? Or are some human persons just children of a lesser god or no god at all?

Two Key Questions

A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel (Pope Francis).[3]

Two questions were posed in the first chapter of this book as follows: Who are you? What is your faith? These questions were chosen, because they were deemed to best reflect what CBP agents could thenceforth be asking intended entrants to America as a consequence of the Executive Orders, to determine whether these people would be allowed entry and stay in the nation upon their arrival on American soil. In light of the previous chapters, however, together with all the factors present and issues raised throughout this book, the above questions now take on a different tone and nature altogether.

The two key questions Who are you? What is your faith? can and should be asked in a similar manner of all American Christians and American Catholics – compatriots of this author in the faith and in the flag – who have either supported or continue to support both what happened and keeps on happening in relation to migrants and refugees to the US, in particular toward those considered to be ‘different others.’ These questions can and should be asked without reservation, because neither in Christianity nor in Catholicism are such behaviors either supported or condoned as has been manifested through Scripture and the Social Doctrine of the Church. Can such behaviors, therefore, as discussed before ever be reconciled with the faith?

The issue of prudential judgment. Some Christians and Catholics have raised the argument that what transpired during and in the aftermath of Protecting the Nation both was and remains valid as it falls under the rubric of prudential judgment, one of the tenets of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. Prudential judgment has been defined as “the application of moral principles to a particular case in order to do good and avoid evil” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2003). A careful examination of the three prongs upon which the nature of prudential judgment stands, however, reveals that two of the necessary criteria for a valid determination of prudential judgment to be made both have been and remain missing in the intent, construction, and implementation of Protecting the Nation. Hence the argument of prudential judgment does not hold water as either a valid Christian or Catholic rationalization in this case.

Specifically, prudential judgment rests upon three criteria as follows:

  1. reflection and consultation in relation to the issue at hand;
  2. evaluation of the situation from the context of the plan of God for humankind; and
  3. decision in accordance with criteria #1 and #2.

As shown by the repeated and multi-dimensional evidence presented in the previous chapters, it is clear that neither Executive Order 13769 nor Executive Order 13780 were ever evaluated from the context of the plan of God for humanity and the common good. Neither criterion #2 nor criterion #3 have thus been fulfilled, making the argument for a case of valid prudential judgment in relation to Protecting the Nation null and void.

What Christianity? What Catholicism?

You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Our Lord, Jesus Christ).[4]

In light of all the above, the questions What Christianity? What Catholicism? cannot but arise in relation to the current beliefs held by some Christians and Catholics in America today – in particular, White Christians and White Catholics who both supported and continue to support the forced exclusion of their vulnerable brethren from the goods of the land; a land not of their own making, but granted to them by God for the good of all humankind – despite knowing full well the need of their suffering brethren. And this support for forced exclusion carried out under the rationalization of making America great again! Is this Christianity, therefore? Is this Catholicism? Or is it the de facto practice of a Christianity more American than Christian, a Catholicism more fundamentalistic than Catholic, and a Catholicism more insular than universal? Quo vadis, America?

How do the aforementioned American Christians and Catholics explain the presence of a sensus fidelium that seems to revolve around a core of fear and hatred, rather than faith and love? Is this Christian? Is this Catholic? From whose spirit is this coming?

What about a sensus fidei, the conscience of which seems to have been formed more in accordance with the exceptionalism and entitlement of White Americanism, rather than the conscience of genuine Christianity in relation to the unquestionable and obligatory faith factors of fraternity and solidarity?

Is it Christianity and Catholicism, therefore, that are being practiced for the most part in America? Or is it perverted forms of Christianity and Catholicism that have been in action, with both of them having been constructed in the particular image and likeness of the America of Article 1, Section 2 of the US Constitution, rather than the Christianity and Catholicism of the only-begotten Son of God, our Lord, Jesus Christ?

Who Can ‘Make America Great Again?’

The true aim of our Christian life consists of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God (Saint Seraphim of Sarov).[5]

Every American, by virtue of being American, whether living inside and outside the US, deep down in his or her heart desires to see America made great again; indeed, made whole once and for all. The country is loved by each American and more, together with its customs, its traditions, its ideals, and what it has stood for and continues to stand for among the multitude of nations, despite its past and present flaws and failings. Can a nation, however, the soul and psyche of which have been ravaged by racial hatred since its very inception over 240 years ago, ever be healed and made whole, without first undergoing an in-depth purification the likes of which cannot be carried out by any human person or persons on earth?

Who can ‘make America great again’ without fear or hatred being involved, without the shedding of any more blood, or the carrying out of any more violence that has characterized both the history and the current state of the nation? Who in one swift fell can replace the dark spirits of King George III, the American Revolutionary War, and the American Civil War, with goodness, loving kindness, and lasting peace being installed for the first time ever in the heart, soul, and psyche of America and each American, so that the country can in reality become a shining city on a hill for its own self and for the rest of the world?

The vital question. There exists one Person who can, indeed, fill the aforementioned need in the most effective and painless way possible, to cleanse and restore America both for Americans and for the entire world. This Person would descend with great swiftness and incomparable might to accomplish the task at hand if asked – but first He needs to be asked. He has come before and He is ready to come again. But do we really want Him?

Are we or are we not ready to ask the third Person of the Holy Trinity to come and help us out, to come and help America out, so that it can be restored to goodness and peace – a goodness and peace that would be everlasting? Are we ready to ask Him to come, with genuineness in our hearts?

[1] Acts 27:41, 28:1-2.

[2] White declared in a pre-taped interview with NBC News, “I know that Donald is saved . . . He’s absolutely – received Jesus Christ as his lord and savior” (Timm, 2017).

[3] During in-flight news conference held on flight from Juarez, Mexico, to Rome, Italy (CNA/EWTN News, 2016).

[4] In Mt 37, 39.

[5] In The Aim of the Christian Life (2001).

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