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From The Pews | Risking Your Freedom to Stand Up for Caged Kids

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The U.S. will celebrate its freedom with barbecues, fireworks and time off work with friends and family this week.

As we celebrate, we also will be faced with the stark reality of the reports of hundreds of children who are not free in our country. Children who are being detained in border facilities.

Reports that these children have not been able to change their clothes since they crossed the border and that 8-year-olds are taking care of toddlers have sparked donations that have been rejected by border patrol facilities.

It will be difficult for me to celebrate this week with the knowledge that those who have run from dangerous places hoping and dreaming for a better life only found inhumane conditions and separation from their loved ones once they crossed our border.

What does my freedom cost other people? Is my freedom more valuable than these children?

This is something we must wrestle with as we recognize the way that we have benefitted from our own privilege.

Because of where I was born and the opportunities for education, as well as food and clothing and shelter without any real threat of violence, I have freedom. This was not something I did. This was not something I deserved.

For a very long time, I defended my freedom to live into the calling to be a preacher and a pastor, who happens to be a woman. I fought hard for that freedom and wholeness.

Because I had to fight to stand in the freedom of whom I was and whom I was called to be, I thought that meant I had to denounce and deride others who had freedom. I thought I had to keep fighting for my freedom even after I had obtained it.

Now I am realizing that standing in my freedom means fighting for others to experience that same freedom, especially when it is for freedom for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Our freedom is at a cost this week. That cost is imprisoning children in conditions we would never tolerate for ourselves or for our own children.

Is it worth it? Or is it time to risk our freedom for the least of these?

Merianna Harrelson

Merianna Harrelson is pastor of Garden of Grace United Church of Christ in Columbia, South Carolina, editor-in-chief of Harrelson Press Publishing, and an EthicsDaily.com / Baptist Center for Ethics board member.