In their attempt to block any action during the lame duck session of Congress, Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) have callously resorted to questioning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) faith for potentially keeping Congress in session through the start of the new Congress next year. Kyl has accused Reid of “disrespecting” Christians, while DeMint said it’s “sacrilegious.”
Several notable leaders of the Christian faith community have already slammed the two senators for using Christmas as an excuse to halt efforts to pass the New START Treaty. Today, several other faith leaders chimed in to condemn the senators’ remarks, noting that delaying a vote on the DREAM Act would also be antithetical to the teachings of Christ and the spirit of Christmas.
Pastor Troy Jackson of the University Christian Church of Ohio told me that he “didn’t realize our elected officials had Christmas break like elementary and high school kids do”:
The DREAM Act would be a great way to honor or celebrate Jesus for Christians. I’m shocked that anyone would think that leaving town or leaving that great bill on the table would somehow be ‘honoring’ of Jesus or would even say that voting it would be sacrilegious.
Today, Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform hosted a call featuring conservative leaders from diverse Evangelical denominations. I got the chance to ask the speakers on the call to respond to Kyl and DeMint’s remarks. Rev. Jerry Dykstra, Executive Director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America stated:
Jesus, who was a high respecter of the Sabbath — which was not simply a national or religious holiday, but was their day of complete rest in his own culture — said that on the Sabbath we need to do what is right. If doing what is right means that we have to work through a Christmas holiday, then by all means we work through a Christmas holiday. [...] I think that’s a manuevering that’s really in appropriate.
Dr. Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean if Liberty University School of Law dismissed the senators’ comments entirely:
I’m not sure that I would think that that kind of a comment actually deserves a legitimate answer. The fact of the matter is no one is asking somebody to work on Christmas Day. But if you’re asked to work a couple of additional days — they are servants of the public. I just don’t think such a comment has much merit.
Reid has also fired back at Kyl and DeMint, saying, “I don’t need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Senators Kyl and DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means.”
Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the Desert Southwest Conference of The United Methodist Church left me the following message:
I believe that nothing would honor the Christ Child more than for Christians, among them Congressional leaders, to work for justice throughout the Christmas season and every day. If anything we should work even harder for God’s justice in the season when we remember that the Prince of Peace has been born among us. I know that I and thousands of religious leaders all across this country will be at work on Christmas Eve, why not our Congressional leaders?