Every report, then, that cannot be adequately proved is false witness. Therefore, no one should publicly assert as truth what is not publicly substantiated.
(Luther’s explanation of the 8th commandment in the Large Catechism from The Book of Concord, Augsburg Fortress 2000)
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The 2016 presidential race is heating up as both major parties in our country are getting closer to nominating their candidate for President of the United States of America. As such, we see that the rhetoric is really heating up - especially attacks against specific candidates and individuals. Yet, sweeping generalizations against whole groups of people also are starting to play a major role in this campaign.
In particular, I want to address the attacks against Muslims as an example, but they are hardly the only group that have been victims of broad generalizations during this election cycle. Between the Syrian refugee crisis, the fight against ISIS, and recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris, and many other places throughout the world, some presidential candidates have called for a moratorium on Muslim immigration to this country. Others have proposed that Muslim communities be patrolled extra carefully.
Such suspicion of our Muslim neighbors meets the criteria of bearing false witness according to Martin Luther in the Large Catechism. For it hurts the honor and integrity of ALL Muslims to be treated with automatic suspicion – to be called a terrorist or worse for no reason other than their religion. Luther suggests that unless we can point to a specific, public act done by a specific individual, “we should use our tongue to speak only the best about all people, to cover the sins and infirmities of our neighbors, to justify their actions, and to cloak and veil them with our own honor.” Broad demonization of our Muslim brothers and sisters without basis in fact or specificity in example is something that runs distinctly counter to Luther’s explanation and is something my own faith cannot countenance.
So, following the example of Luther and the prodding of the Gospel message of love for God, neighbor, and self, I say to my Muslim neighbors immigrating to America in this day and age, “welcome!” I hope you find peace, comfort, and hope here in this new land. I hope you find shelter from persecution and war. I look forward to getting to know you better and pray that your time in this country may be full of God’s blessing.
God’s peace be with you,