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Bodies Matter: a footwashing protest

April 2nd, 2010 by isaac · 3 Comments

For Holy Thursday a bunch of gathered at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Cary, North Carolina, and held a footwashing worship service—we told them we wanted to wash the feet of the people detained inside. If you haven’t heard about these ICE detention centers, that means the federal government is good at what it does: Obama is turning out to be just as good as Bush in keeping secrets from U.S. citizens. ICE sets up field offices in unmarked buildings, tucked away in business parks throughout suburbia. Once citizens find out about a particular site, ICE closes up shop and moves to another unmarked building, tucked away in one of the other many business parks in a different suburb (it sounds like a strange performance of the fluidity of Deleuzian politics, but played by the wrong actors). The detention center in Cary we visited is next door to the offices of Oxford University Press, the publisher of many of the books on my shelves. (For more information on ICE detention centers, read this article from The Nation: America’s Secret ICE Castles).

Here’s some local media coverage of our worship service and protest: “Protesters hold demonstration,” and “Taking the Cross to the streets.”

And here’s an excerpt from the short sermon I preached at the detention center as a Cary police officer kept telling me to stop preaching and leave the premises:

This chair here will remain empty as a sign of all the bodies that the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement have hidden from us, the bodies that law enforcement agents have torn from our communities and our families in the middle of the night, the bodies that they have ripped away from our churches. By refusing to let us wash the feet of the people hidden in their detention centers, the federal government has dismembered the body of Christ, they have torn apart the church, they have pierced and severed the body of Jesus.

For the rest of the sermon, follow this link to my church website: “Bodies Matter, part 1

Tags: church life · immigration · political power · sermons · theology

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Joel Urbina // Apr 4, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    So, I was going through some of the code on your site and randomly read this story about the ICE detention center on your blog and think it’s great what you guys did! I don’t really practice any particular religious activity regularly (ie I don’t go to church, but read about and try to understand the beliefs of everyone in order to form my own beliefs (which in the end, most religions seem to come down to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ and ‘love God’ as in the Bible)), but I understand Christianity as it is written in the Bible thoroughly. This ‘foot-washing protest’ is a fabulous example of human compassion, ‘doing unto the least of these’ and not just sitting by passively with the wool pulled comfortably over your eyes (which seems to be what so many Christians in America believe is their ‘Christian duty as American citizens’).

    Again, nice work!

  • 2 isaac // Apr 14, 2010 at 4:14 am

    hi Joel,

    Thanks for reading the post and for sharing your thoughts. I am encouraged that, although you aren’t Christian, you can see the profound significance of our attempt to wash the feet of the detainees. If you’re ever in the area, maybe we can plan another interesting churchy activity!


  • 3 Joel // Apr 14, 2010 at 4:51 am

    Thank you very much for the invite, sound good!
    Keep up the good work!