Recently I’ve heard about students who object to what I am about to say because they say, “We shouldn’t break the law.” But sometimes to do what is right, we have to break an unjust law. Daniel broke the law in Babylon by praying five times a day. As a result, he was thrown in the lion’s den. Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego broke an unjust law. They would not bow down and worship the statue. As a result, they were thrown into the furnace. Early Christians broke the law. They continued to meet. They went down into the catacombs or were burnt at the stake.
Those who hid Jews and helped them during World War II broke unjust Nazis laws. Christians all over the world break unjust civil laws by meeting together, by sharing the gospel, and by distributing literature about Jesus. They are breaking their countries’ unjust laws.
Also, many who were a part of the underground railroad in the United States–broke the law. Those who didn’t abide by Jim Crow laws and those who spoke out against them were retaliated against even though they were doing what was right. History shows they were right; but there were Christians who said back then as they do now, “But you are breaking the law” or “It’s the law.” What we fail to remember is that laws can be unjust. There were laws here in the U.S. that at one time discriminated against the Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Irish Catholics and others. These were law. But they were unjust. And much injustice resulted from these laws. Travesties, in fact.
Over the years I’ve asked myself: Would I break the law to hide the Jews? Would I have been an abolitionist or stood with African-Americans and have broken an unjust law during the Civil Rights Movement? Would I have stood together with Native Americans who have been mistreated since the inception of this country?There is no way to know for sure what I would’ve done back then. I’d like to think that I would have. But all I have is now.
John Perkins, a Christian and founder of Christians for Community Development (CCDA) has said that immigration is the new Civil Rights Movement. I stand for immigration reform now (even if it isn’t popular). These are unjust laws that need to be changed. Flagrant human rights abuses are occuring. Families are being torn apart. And these aren’t just “those people.” They are part of our churches and communities. It is a problem for the Church. Jesus, please help us to change these laws and reach out to our brothers and sisters. If you want to be better informed about what is going on, I welcome you to watch this video from PBS’s Frontline Series: http://video.pbs.org/video/2155873891