Editor, West Texas Angelus
It is only through the toning down of harsh rhetoric, the elimination of hateful dialogue and the development of respect for each other that we can most effectively weather the current divisive political climate in America.
Perhaps it is the only way.
Retired Department of Defense General David Hawkins, now pastor at Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in San Angelo, was one of several speakers on hand for an Interfaith Prayer Vigil on the steps of the Tom Green County Courthouse, January 31, 2017, in San Angelo.
Pastor Hawkins’ remarks, as well as those made by David Currie, the event organizer, and San Angelo Bishop Michael J. Sis, led to repeated applause and a stirring, crowd-led a capella rendition of “Amazing Grace” that brought the brief vigil to a fitting close.
An estimated 150, many of whom wore tshirts and carried signs with calls for peace and inclusivity, were present for the brief but moving vigil.
Bishop Sis assured that the Catholic Church would continue to provide pastoral care and charitable assistance to new immigrants (see Bishop Sis’s complete remarks at left).
The vigil was held in response to the January 28 ruling by the Trump Administration that puts more stringent vetting in place, effective immediately for all those entering America from any of seven Muslim-majority countries. The White House insisted the measures did not amount to a Muslim ban and affirmed that America would continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression while upholding the refugee ban, expected to remain in place for 120 days.
“We have to talk to each other,” Hawkins said. “I didnt agree with (Trump’s) position, but something needs to be done and we can’t get it done without sitting down and talking, and see to it that the hatred that is simmering and boiling is addressed. We need to cover the issues without castigating the person.”
Pastor Hawkins, who worked under three presidents while at DOD, did not condone Trump’s executive orders, but noted that President Bill Clinton “did similar things when he came in and had to learn from it.”
Hawkins said judging by Trump’s body language, Trump is beginning to realize the size and perspective of the job he has as president,” adding that he felt Trump would learn from his experiences in the early going.
Currie emphasized the event’s non-partisan nature, and stressed how an event such as the Prayer Vigil gives legs to citizenship and brings to life the Constitution.
“I would like to call upon Republicans and Democrats alike that we don’t have a religious test in this country,” Currie said. “When we do, we violate our Constitution and the will of God.”
Currie said he felt what the country has encountered through the more stringent immigration regulations enacted by Trump will be looked back on as “a minor setback.”
“Maybe this is a mistake that helps us grow and realize that we don’t want to be this kind of country,” Currie said.