Rev. Pamela Kurtz: We cannot be silent in the face of fascism

I am a Christian and a United Methodist pastor. With the recent terror attacks, many leaders of the nation I love, some of whom identify as Christian, are espousing action that is antithetical to the principles of our nation and the Christian faith with which they identify. I cannot let them be the voice of all Christians. They are not.

I don’t know the Christianity that permits a person to practice their faith on Sunday but ignore it on Tuesday; practice it in private, but not in public; in following, but not in leading.

I am not immune from fear and anxiety about what might happen next. I have children whom I send to school; they walk freely to the cafe after school and ride public transportation.

Yet even with this fear and anxiety, I must utilize all the resources God has given me to reason out what is best, not simply what I feel is best, or my fellow citizens feel is best, but what does God see fit as the best next act I am to do.

As a Christian, I am called to welcome the lost, the least and the forgotten. I follow the Jesus who said that when we care for the least of his brothers and sisters, then we cared for him.

Conversely, when we do not, we do not care for him (Matt 25:31-45). Jesus healed and cared for people regardless of whether they were of his faith.

At the base of the Statue of Liberty are the words penned by Emma Lazarus in 1883: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This does not say we are to turn a blind eye to acts of terror and those who want to engage in them. Nothing is further from the truth. Rather, before rejecting a group of people, leaving them in despair, let us be wise, sensible and compassionate.

The July 1938 Fortune Magazine published a poll of Americans on whether to welcome people of the Jewish religion into our nation on the eve of World War II. With the knowledge of the harsh political, economic and social discrimination against Jewish people in Germany, Austria and other fascist-leaning nations, nearly 68 percent of US of Americans said that given the conditions we should reject welcoming refugees and 18 percent claimed it would be acceptable only if they fell within a “quota” for their group.

Surely, many of those polled were Christians. Only 5 percent wanted to welcome the refugees.

Our World War II national government leaders, most claiming the Christian faith, shamefully insisted on penning up loyal Japanese-American citizens, stripping them of their businesses, land and personal property on the claim of national safety.

As a Christian and a citizen of the United States of America, I will not be silent in the face of statements and actions we once called xenophobic, bigoted and fascist.

We have been down this road before. There are Christians all over this great nation who will nurture those who stand with reason and compassion for those who are the lost, the least and the forgotten. I am one of them.

The Rev. Pamela Kurtz is pastor at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church in Oakland, California.

Pastor Pamela Kurtz

Pastor Pamela Kurtz


This article originally appeared in the San Jose Mercury News and is re-published in the Hungarian Free Press with the author’s permission.


  1. Avatar Charlie London says:

    This post reflects what I understand to be Christian compassion and understanding – though not a ‘Christian’ myself.

    It qoutes the biblical context for how we should treat strangers – and refugees – even though I do not believe the bible.

    These are the very foundations of Christianity as I understand them. Even if I do not claim to be a Christian.

    However Hungary claims to be a ‘Christian’ country and breaches all these values – through its close alliance with the Roman Catholic Unchristian Church.

    It even has the temerity to tell their ‘Shepard’ that he is wrong – and doesn’t understand Hungary. The Bishops told him.

    It is refreshing to see a Pastor standing up for the refugees. A woman too – eat your heart out Roman Catholics!

    Hungary needs Liberty’s lamp beside the golden door.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *