Saturday, April 25, 2015

"One Nation Under God? Be Careful What You Ask For

Please pray for this man and his family. He doesn't belong in prison.

Quintin Alonzo

I've known Quintin- QT's- story for nine years and it still scrapes the skin off my soul every time I pause to consider it. Convicted more than ten years ago of shooting another teen at a West Dallas party, in spite of the fact that evidence did not add up to a guilty verdict, he has languished in prison while he, family and friends have made attempt after attempt to have his trial reviewed and numerous wrongs set right.  If you want to read about the particulars, you can go here: Recreating a Murder. I don't understand a country like the US that won't do everything within its power to to see that EVERY innocent human being is released from their chains. It seems to me that we trot out the doublespeak about liberty and freedom only when we want to send people off to kill and be killed.

We wave the bloody shirt when one US citizen gets killed while we lock up thousands without due process or a chance to genuinely redress their wrongful convictions.

A System Unable to Face Its Mistakes

To watch the television one moment while listening to a Texas politician scream about freedom and liberty then to hear on the phone THE VERY NEXT minute about an open admission by a state functionary that an innocent man's case won't be heard again because the state sees but will not admit its own faults-- that is the kind of thing that turns my blood cold.

It is almost unimaginable to contemplate what QT is suffering through.  I am most in touch, however, with the intense, no-end grief that has been foisted on his mother, his siblings, his cousins, grandparents and aunts and uncles.  In the words of one aunt, Joanne, 

"It's been a long time since I've woken up from a dream crying, but this morning was my turn. I dreamed of my nephew QT when he was about 2/3. . . . The dream was so real and clear his voice sounded just like when he was 3 and his hair I touched his hair and his curls were so thick and his eyes so big! . . . the smell of him, the smell of a baby...woke me crying with an aching in my heart so bad. He said, "tia don't leave me" Wow what away to start the morning."


Witnessing the suffering QT and his family have been made to endure has shaken my belief in one of the dearest rituals of democracy I have engaged in, the pledge of allegiance.  Since I was a child I have treasured the moment of taking the pledge a thousand times in classrooms, on football and baseball fields, and at civic events.  Thinking of it now brings back sense-memories of hot summer breezes, purple horizons brought about by setting suns, freshly mown grass and most of all the physically palpable sense of belonging to a community that stretches from "sea to shining sea."

My friends' experience, however, makes it very hard for me to believe in the pledge of allegiance nowadays. The fact that some people are livid about the slight possiblity that "One nation under God" may get taken out of the pledge makes me want to laugh. And to cry.

Condemning Ourselves

Because EVERY TIME we mouth that false promise we are condemning ourselves for our failure to dedicate ourselves to liberty and justice for every human being, so help us God. 

I believe even now that God is judging this country.  I believe with just as much conviction that our judgment is not based on the negligible sins of some "others." I am convinced that we stand in the dock today because of our hypocrisy in claiming that we are a "Godly nation" while simultaneously turning a blind eye to the every-day promise of justice for all.

So, Christ follower, faithful church goer, 
bible thumper, advocate for putting the ten commandments on the courthouse lawn, be careful that your zeal does not carry you right over the precipice of a false and sadly deluded piety.  We will surely reap what we sow.

People who believe most deeply in God should be rushing to take that phrase out of the pledge because we are condemned by it each and every time we speak it. "I hate your solemn assemblies, your sacrifices and your religious services," says the Lord God. (Amos 5:21)

Who Is The Hero and Who the Villain?

Meanwhile QT Alonzo remains in prison, not the only person by far whom our state has required to pay for the sins of others, but one more flesh-and-blood reminder of the cruelty that comes of mouthing phrases we do not have the courage to back up with our sacred honor- we "free people" who freely pledge to defend the rights of freedom "for all."

And what, might you ask, has QT's response been to the steady grinding of a system that so carelessly took away his rights as a citizen?  Read for yourself:
"The day the verdict was gonna be handed down I remember it so clearly that I got on my knees in my cell and I said "God you know the truth, I know I have done alot of things wrong in my life.. I'm not perfect but you know that I am not guilty of this but if this is where you want me to be send me I will go".. I remember seeing all of my family there and Santos family and friends there too.. Sometimes people ask me if Im angry, if Im mad, is there hate in me . . . I thank God for my family and friends who have stayed on their knees, praying not only for me but for the family of Santos Gauna (the murder victim), because I know I serve a God who is just."

It isn't that the phrase "One nation under God" is empty of meaning. Quite the opposite. It is overloaded with the true meaning of our hypocrisy, our cruelty, 
our failure to pursue justice and liberty for ALL.

Photo Credit:

"And what does the Lord require of you? That you do justice, love kindness and walk humby with your God."  (Micah 6:8)


  1. Amen, thank you for always praying, supporting and being here as a friend and Pastor to our family. God bless you

    1. You are welcome, Joanne. We prayed for QT and Licho tonight, asking God for justice, to bless the souls of both of these men, especially Licho until there is no room left for anything but truth and love.


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