Lord God, during this Lenten season, teach us to come before you in humility, lamenting the signs that your kingdom has not yet come in its fullness. Help us to acknowledge our finitude and failings, and guide us into a journey of remembering rightly, repenting honestly, and responding faithfully. We long for the coming of your mosaic kingdom in Jesus Christ, our Lord, and invite your Holy Spirit to lead us now.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY: MARCH 26, 1790
U.S. Naturalization Law of 1790
In 1790, the United States government passed the U.S. Naturalization Law of 1790, which provided the first rules to be followed by the United States in regards to the granting of national citizenship. This Act reserved naturalized citizenship exclusively for “free white persons of good character.” It thus excluded American Indians, indentured servants, slaves, free blacks, and Asians from being able to live as citizens of the United States, and thereby restricted them of the basic protections and entitlements that white citizens were granted.
In the face of the Declaration of Independence’s claim that “all men are created equal,” nonwhites were denied the right to vote, own property, testify in court, or receive governmental liberties and protections throughout much of U.S. history. African Africans were not granted full citizenship until 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution was ratified in the wake of Reconstruction. Additionally, Native Americans could only become citizens through individual treaties or intermarriage, until the passing of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. Asian immigrants faced a number of different exclusionary policies, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Immigration Act of 1924, which favored immigrants from northern and Western Europe over the “inferior races” of Asia and southern and eastern Europe. Asian immigrants were ineligible for citizenship until the 1954 McCarran-Walter Act removed all racial barriers for naturalization.
Despite these exclusionary immigration policies based on race, many of these ethnic groups have provided to the economic prosperity and well-being of our nation. Today, views regarding immigration and citizenship continue to be racialized, as“white persons” are consistently equated with citizenship, while people of color struggle to be seen as true Americans.
SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: Leviticus 19:33-37
33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
35 “‘Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. 36 Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.
37 “‘Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the Lord.’”
RESPONSE OF LAMENT AND CONFESSION: Please spend some time in personal response, crying out to God with prayers, poems, songs, or art that expresses your lament and confession. If you feel led, please share these responses with others, using #lentenlament #day26
You may close with the following:
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.
CLOSING PRAYER: AND NOW WHAT WAIT WE FOR? (Maria Stewart, 1835)
“Almighty God, it is the glorious hope of a blessed immortality beyond the grave, that supports thy children through this vale of tears… Grant all prejudices and animosities cease among men. May we all realize that promotion cometh not from East nor from the West, but that it is God that putteth one up and setteth down another. May the rich be rich in faith and good works towards our Lord Jesus Christ, and may the poor have an inheritance among the saints in light, a crown incorruptible that fadeth not away, eternal in the heavens. And now what wait we for? Be pleased to grant that we may all at last join with the Israel of God, in celebrating thy praise.”