Wetbacks: Following El Buen Coyote

Image by Manfred Werner. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.
Image by Manfred Werner. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

Reading Jesus as a coyote who brings us into God’s reign against the law at no charge, or presenting baptism as making us all equally “wetback” strangers and aliens, are understandings coming directly out of years of working with undocumented immigrants struggling with the constant reality of possible deportation…

Reading Paul with undocumented immigrants, inmates, and “criminal aliens” cam clearly bring new life to worn-out texts.  Reading these Scripture passages in a way that holds onto the radical grace that infuses them requires faith and risk.  Though I am fully aware of other texts that emphasize the importance of being subject to governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7) and of walking by the Spirit and not by the flesh (Gal. 5:16-26), I do not believe that people always need to be presented with the “whole picture.”  Most people on society’s margins assume the Scriptures are only about lists of dos and don’ts and calls to compliance.  Reading with people whose social standing, family of origin, addictions, criminal history, and other factors make compliance with civil laws or scriptural teachings impossible requires a deliberate reading for and acting by grace.  The good news alone must be seized by faith as having the power to save, heal, deliver, and liberate.  This good news is no one other than Jesus Christ himself, who meets us through the words of Scripture and the sacraments, and through the flesh of his family of buen coyote followers.

Rev. Dr. Bob Ekblad, Reading the Bible With the Damned, p. 179-180, 195-196


The Immigrant Apostles’ Creed

Rio Grande on the USA-Mexico Border. Image by Bob Palin. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.
Rio Grande on the USA-Mexico Border. Image by Bob Palin. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

This was posted to Facebook by Neal Presa, the current moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  I’m told it was originally written by Rev. Jose Luis Casal.  Fruitful theological food for thought for anyone who cares about USA immigration policies.

Also worth reading on this subject is this sample chapter from Reading the Bible With the Damned by Bob Ekblad:


And here is the Immigrant Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in Almighty God,
who guided the people in exile and in exodus,
the God of Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon,
the God of foreigners and immigrants.

I believe in Jesus Christ, a displaced Galilean,
who was born away from his people and his home, who fled
his country with his parents when his life was in danger.
When he returned to his own country he suffered under the oppression of Pontius Pilate, the servant of a foreign power. Jesus was persecuted, beaten, tortured, and unjustly condemned to death.
But on the third day Jesus rose from the dead,
not as a scorned foreigner but to offer us citizenship in God’s kingdom.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the eternal immigrant from God’s kingdom among us,
who speaks all languages, lives in all countries,
and reunites all races.
I believe that the Church is the secure home
for foreigners and for all believers.
I believe that the communion of saints begins
when we embrace all God’s people in all their diversity.
I believe in forgiveness, which makes us all equal before God,
and in reconciliation, which heals our brokenness.
I believe that in the Resurrection
God will unite us as one people
in which all are distinct and all are alike at the same time.
I believe in life eternal, in which no one will be foreigner
but all will be citizens of the kingdom
where God reigns forever and ever. Amen.