GCORR Suggests Giving up 'the I-Word' During Lent

March 15, 2012

By Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger
Advocacy Intern, General Commission on Religion and Race

Paul tells us in Galatians 3 that, "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Paul is encouraging the Galatians to stop constructing false divisions, and barriers between each other.
As we conclude the third week of our Lenten journey as a community of faith, we are called to examine those things in life that separate us from God's love. We are invited to remove the barriers in our life that we place between God and ourselves.
The use of the word "illegal" in the media and in the discussions on immigration creates a rhetoric that does not allow God's love to be shown to all people. The use of the I-Word creates an environment of hate by exploiting racial fear and economic anxiety, creates an easy scapegoat for complex issues, and makes violence permissible against those labeled with the I-Word. It has become a stereotype that especially negatively impacts people of color and immigrants, and it short-circuits the conversations of all who use the term. It allows barriers and stereotypes to divide us from our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Consider making a commitment to Drop the I-Word during Lent, both personally and as a community.
At GCORR we are using Lent as a time to pray, prepare, and practice living in a world without the dehumanizing word "illegal." You are invited to journey with us through Bible study, prayer, conversations, letter writing, and other actions that will be posted weekly on our blog.
This week on the blog, you are invited to post a video of yourself talking about why dropping the I-Word is important to you. Next week, you will be invited to send a letter to a member of your General Conference Delegation, asking them to Drop the I-Word.
At the end of Lent we will move into General Conference, and pray that our delegates and our Church will officially endorse the Drop the I Word campaign, and become a beacon of God's love and care for a group of people now devalued and dehumanized by our media and by all who use the word "illegal."
Please join us this Lent in a creative journey to Drop the I-Word – by reading our blog, and using the blog as a means to share with the campaign each week, and support each other as we seek to change the rhetoric around immigration to be more loving and people-focused.
As we seek to grow to 10,000 strong against the I-Word, here are a few ways you can help:
  • Share the invitation to pledge with your friends, colleagues, and local churches.  
  • Send an email with your address, to droptheiword@gcorr.org, toreceive new media resources shared at the Immigration Task Force meeting about Drop the I-Word.
  • Use our toolkit at www.gcorr.org/droptheiword, which includes a Drop the I-Word FAQ, individual and group Bible studies on immigration, a sample resolution that asks your Annual Conference to actively and prayerfully change the conversation on immigration by choosing to use the word "undocumented," replacing the racially charged I-Word.
  • Share what's happening with the conversation in your church and community. We want to hear about the challenges and the successes. That's one way to re-craft the dialogue, and practice being present in emotional conversations while remaining respectful and passionate.
  • "Like" us on www.Facebook.com/GeneralCommissiononReligionandRace – and follow us on Twitter: @GCORR_IWord, @GCORR_UMC
Don't forget to visit www.gcorr.org/droptheiword as well as www.ColorLines.com, for more stories and progress on this public education campaign led by the Applied Research Center.