Good morning friends, new and old, those who have worshipped and worked with me for many years and those just getting to know me through my campaign to become Governor of New Jersey,
Yesterday I took the pledge to Register as Muslim if there ever came a time, in this country, where such a registry came about. Such a registration is not a farfetched idea. In 2002, General Secretary Ashcroft, with the blessing of President G.W. Bush, introduced the NSEERS registration program that targeted men from the 15 largest Muslim countries in the world. At that time, post-9/11, the public didn’t respond with outrage as we should have. We didn’t jump to the defense of people from Muslim nations and I directly experienced, in New Jersey, dozens of families (ironically most were Indonesian Christian) being ripped apart by deportation caused by registration. For more than a decade I have been among those leading the charge to keep families together that had been threatened by this registration. Sadly, President Obama didn’t finish the job of dismantling NSEERS. The infrastructure still stands for Donald Trump to repeat this horrible practice.
We can’t let it happen again—not without a fight.
As a Christian I can say that Jesus’ message was a message for the oppressed and a message against Empire in all its forms. In his day it was the Roman Empire, with the collusion of the Elites, that Jesus was going up against. In our day, sadly, it is the newly elected Trump-U.S. Empire, an empire defined by Extreme Wealth and with the backing of 4 out of 5 Evangelical-Christian voters, who have decided to suggest systematic oppression of portions of our society.
I am confident that Jesus would stand firmly but non-violently against this display of Christian-Empire. As long as large portions of Christianity saddles up to repressive, bigoted, hate-mongering Empire then I will stand with Jesus who, I am confident, would be standing with Muslims--and with all people who have been cast as among the despised by our President-Elect and his disciples. I will stand where Jesus stands—among those forced to register.
Where I stand as a Christian is where I will always stand as your governor--with the last. The last are first.