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By Ekram Haque

As hate, racism, and xenophobia make daily headlines in our multicultural nation, thanks largely to our president and his policies, we may ask, what would Jesus do in these circumstances? We know Jesus loved all people, and he did not ask for proof of citizenship before helping those in need.

Jesus equated gnosis of God with one’s love of people, saying “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) On another occasion he said to his disciples that people will recognize them from their “love for one another.” (John 13:35)  

The massacres in a black church in Charleston, the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg, and two mosques in New Zealand were a perversion of Jesus’ love for humanity, just as the bombing of Christian churches in Sri Lanka was a perversion of Islam.

All religions advocate loving the fellow human and helping the downtrodden. However, it’s up to their adherents if they exemplify those values.

Unfortunately, hateful, exclusionary rhetoric has become normalized in our society today, and the normalizers-in-chief are President Donald Trump and his diehard supporters within the Republican Party. The president, who often presides by tweets, has used the harshest and most demeaning language for people or countries he disagrees with.

In his most recent Twitter tirade, he called Rep. Elijah Cummings “a brutal bully” and the Baltimore’s 7th District the African-American congressman represents a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” The president went on to describe the 7th District as “the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there.”

Two weeks earlier, the president had berated four freshmen representatives of Congress ­— ­­­Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — telling them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the congresswomen were born in the US and one is a naturalized citizen. All of them are women of color.

In Leviticus 19:34, the faithful are told, “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Our president is determined to build a wall to keep the “stranger” away and has incarcerated those who have managed to cross the border in squalid and inhumane conditions. Many of the detainees are small children. He has imposed a travel and immigration ban on five Muslim countries thereby preventing families from seeing their loved ones.

The president has likened immigration to an infestation, described Mexican immigrants as rapists, falsely claimed Middle Easterners were coming into the US embedded in the migrant caravan from the South, claimed “Islam hates us,” and criticized German Chancellor Angel Merkel for taking in a million Muslim refugees calling it a “big mistake.”

For President Trump to jail and dehumanize asylum seekers makes a mockery of his own past. His mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, was an immigrant from Scotland, and two of his three wives ­— Ivana Marie Zelnickova and the First Lady Melania Trump ­— are immigrants from Eastern Europe. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison were descendants of European settlers in this land. Let us also not forget Prophets Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad were either migrants or refugees.

God created Adam in His own image and from Adam and his wife, Eve, He brought out all people, white, black, brown. Jesus, a Middle Easterner, never glorified certain skin color of his followers. “The ministry of Christ,” as  Amy Julia Becker puts it, “goes beyond the White bohemian-styled Jesus that we’ve popularized.”

Hate, bigotry, and xenophobia are hurting America at home and tarnishing its image abroad. Sadly, in the run up to the 2020 presidential election, we should expect the hate-filled rhetoric to get only worse. The president has no incentive to hold back his salvos, as every time he vilely attacks his critics, his approval rating goes up.

Christians, who constitute majority of the U.S. population, and Americans of other faiths can make America truly great ­— by choosing the universal vision of love and inclusion over the president’s demagogic vision of hate and exclusion.

Ekram Haque is acting executive director for Council on American-Islamic Relations-DFW and author, most recently, of Powered by Hope, Positivity, and Optimism: Where Religion, Science, and Nature Converge.