Letter 31

DAY 31

Patrick B. Reyes

Senior Director of Learning Design
Forum for Theological Exploration
February 19, 2021

Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Members of the 117th Congress,

Remember the child.

Herod murdered children for fear of losing his power (Matthew 2:16-18). Saul destroyed the Amalekites, “child and infant” alike (1 Samuel 15:3-9). Pharaoh murdered all the Hebrew boys (Exodus 1:15-22); and then, with the tenth plague, God killed every first born (Exodus 12:29-30). Abraham threw out Hagar and Ishmael for Sarah’s fear of a shared inheritance (Genesis 21:8-21).

“Let all the children come. Let us not hinder them.”

Our religious traditions and our nation are tethered together in the failed imaginations of male leaders who cannot dream big enough dreams for every child. From enslaving Black bodies and committing genocide against Indigenous peoples to limiting access to basic needs like clean water, health care, housing, and education for Black, Indigenous, Latinos/as, recent arrivals, and broader peoples of color, the nation’s narrative has been marked by a war on children.

This is not a distant history. On our southern border, children are locked in cages. Five million children in the U.S. live in poverty, 73 percent of whom are children of color. The education gap begins in early education for Latinx, Indigenous, and Black children.

And yet, our tradition also tells us that God met Hagar and Ishmael near the water, called the young boy to live, and spoke great promise over his life (Genesis 21:14-21). Moses’ mother placed her infant son in a basket of reeds, and his sister Miriam advocated to Pharaoh’s daughter for his mother to care for him (Exodus 2:1-10). Mary saved her child, Jesus, by migrating to a distant land (Matthew 2:19-23).


President Biden,
In the eyes of all children
In the laughter of the child
In full-bellies
In the image of a small pointer finger running across the lines of a children’s book
In the hopeful raised arms that calls for us adults to lift and love big hearts
In these moments, you, and this nation, can find its heart and soul.

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’” (Matthew 19:14).

Let all the children come. Let us not hinder them.

With love and admiration,

Patrick B. Reyes

Dr. Patrick B. Reyes
Senior Director of Learning Design
Forum for Theological Exploration

the author

Patrick B. Reyes currently serves as Senior Director of Learning Design at the Forum for Theological Exploration, where his portfolio includes oversight of organizational thought leadership, resource development, and annual grant funding. Dr. Reyes is the author of The Purpose Gap: Empowering Communities of Color to Find Meaning and Thrive and Nobody Cries When We Die: God, Community, and Surviving to Adulthood. A Chicano educator, religious scholar, and institutional strategist, he also is president-elect of the Religious Education Association and serves on several boards supporting the next generation of religious leaders and educators of color.