Christian Organization's Sign Criticizes Trump Admin's Use of Tear Gas Against Migrant Caravan at Border

tear gas trump migrant caravan
A sign posted outside the United Methodist Building used part of a verse from Matthew 25:35 to criticize Trump's decision to use tear gas against the migrant caravan. General Board of Church and Society

A church organization in Washington, D.C., used its sign to send a message to President Donald Trump about the use of tear gas at the United States and Mexico border.

The sign, posted on Monday, outside the United Methodist Building criticized the use of tear gas against a group of migrants that Trump has labeled a 'caravan', and has succeeded in focusing his supporters and the media on, with a spin on Matthew 25:35. Part of Matthew 25:35 states, "I was a stranger and you invited me in."

Instead of the exact quote, the United Methodist Building wrote, "I was a stranger, and you tear gassed me. ...Wait a second."

The United Methodist Building, the only non-governmental building on Capitol Hill, is owned by the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS). Located adjacent to both the Supreme Court and the Capitol, the building is used for the offices of several Christian denominations.

Warren Gill, a spokesperson for the GBCS, told Newsweek that they posted the sign to show a disconnect between Jesus's words and the actions of the United States government. Gill added welcoming sojourners is at the center of the United Methodist Church's faithfulness to scripture. In his opinion, Jesus was perfectly clear that people should love their neighbors and protect children.

"We must welcome the stranger," Gill said. "There were barefooted babies at the U.S.-Mexico border this weekend, and the U.S. government threw tear gas at them. It's shocking, and it's immoral."

Gill told Newsweek that on a recent trip to the border he spoke with migrants and learned that they're fleeing authentic and disturbing violence that most Americans would only see in a fiction story such as Game of Thrones. He added that the same people who were fleeing immense violence were welcomed to the United States border with tear gas.

He added that the incident at the border on Sunday "got out of hand" and criticized people in power for not living up to the expectation that they would remain calm and level-headed.

"The use of chemical weapons like tear gas is banned in war," Gill said. "Using tear gas against civilians, especially children, should similarly be prohibited, whether in Ferguson, Missouri, or along the U.S.-Mexico border."

Although the criticism was aimed at Trump, a Republican, Gill explained that it wasn't a partisan issue for the organization, but instead was an issue of "living out our faith." He pointed out that both Democrats and Republicans failed migrants and asylum-seekers.

On February 22, 2016, while former President Barack Obama was in office, the church and society staff protested outside the White House. Gill said they wore red gloves to symbolize the blood on Obama's hands from the raids and deportations of undocumented immigrants.

Trump's administration was heavily criticized for the use of tear gas at the border to deter the thousands of people traveling with the group of migrants from entering the United States.

Among the critics were Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who labeled it an atrocity and a violation of human rights. She also called for investigators from the United Nations to be sent to the border.

The tear-gassing of women and children at the border is an atrocity. It’s a violation of human rights. And it is a grotesque betrayal of our founding promise, as a nation built by immigrants.

I’ve called for @UN inspectors on the border, and I reiterate that call today.

— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) November 26, 2018

However, Rodney Scott, chief patrol agent of the San Diego Sector Border Patrol told CNN that he saw people throwing rocks at border patrol officers, not asking for asylum. He also defended the decision to use tear gas on the basis that officers were being threatened.

"What I find unconscionable is that people would intentionally take children into this situation," Scott said. "The caravan would push women and children toward the front and then begin rocking our agents."

On Monday, Trump recommended that Mexico send those traveling with the migrant caravan back to their countries of origin because they would not be allowed into the United States. If the situation warranted it, Trump said he would close the border permanently and called for funding for a wall along the southern border.

Since taking office, Trump has succeeded in casting all immigration as a crisis. His words and themes have been amplified by the news media.