Reach Records’ newest signee WHATUPRG dropped his much-anticipated follow-up to Pleasant Hill with Raul. The former was deeply personal for RG. The latter, even more so. Much of the reaction to his project has been positive as he dove deep into his REAL LIFE issues with immigration and the loss of his father to deportation taking center stage. However, there has also been a lack of empathy and backlash toward his family’s plight that is a bit concerning.

RG’s emotions are on full display from the opening lines of, “I was just a kid when my dad got deported/
Ever since then everything I.C.E. cold/ I was just a kid when my dad got deported/ Ever since then everything I.C.E.”

Then again on “JR Interlude,” “Yeah, now I just have these like, like really high ups and really low downs, hmm. I wish my dad was here.”

That statement leads to the incredibly moving “4AM.” In that track RG chronicles the night the police came to deport his father back to Mexico.

“Whole house shook when the cops knocked
Whole house shook when the cops knocked
4AM and they want Pops
4AM and they want Pops
Daddy turned around said “farewell”
Momma cryin’ on the stairwell
Little brother go look out the window, huh
“Why Daddy got handcuffs on him?
He ain’t did nothin’
He ain’t never did nothin’
All he ever did was work for his children
Pay the rent, a little income
Why they gotta take him?
Why they gotta break us?”

Anyone can read those lines and discern the anguish and pain in those words. However, there were people who took to his comments on Instagram and Twitter like:

“Sure let’s just let all the illegals come here and become a third world country the Bible says to obey the laws of the land”

“I don’t understand why y’all push liberal views all the time and allude to the president being racist. I miss the old Reach that was focused on God”

“Um….illegal immigrants should not be over here period”

Obviously, WHATURG hit a nerve with some people. Perhaps it was the lines: “I had trouble believing the pastor say “God’s got a plan in all of this” / As he smiled in a MAGA hat, I had to question his common sense /
I mean can’t you see that we strugglin’ /And you gon’ hit me with Bible scripts? /Forget religion and politics man / I just wanna have my dad back”

For some people, this made RG’s statement and project an anti-Trump record. While that line sounds politically charged, there’s context in it that some people missed. Yes, his father was deported way before President Trump was in office, but when you seek a fellow Christian for comfort and their response to your hardship is, “Well, don’t break the rules” or “Good. We gotta build that wall,” how does that shine and show the love of Christ to someone who needs God’s touch?

Perhaps the most poignant four bars on the whole album read:

‘Cause half the pastors in America
Don’t want my family in America
And even Jesus was an immigrant
But don’t nobody seem to give a…’

This is a REAL feeling. We all can’t relate to this. This is pain and frustration that even leaders of the church can’t say, “Hold on, wait a minute, we not agree, but let’s pray for peace and healing. Let’s show compassion for families being broken up and destroyed.” This isn’t political, this is human empathy. This is being Christ-like and being the comforter He is.

Artist Micah Hampton had some amazing tweets. Read below.

Micah Hampton

That above response is the perfect summation of how Christians should view other people’s pain. Whatever side of the fence you stand on politically or however you feel about immigration is irrelevant to the heartache someone is going through.

Also, there are comments that speak of, “Well, Jesus says to bey the laws of the land.”

To that, Mykael V had the perfect response.

Mykael V

The whole basis of Christianity is God being OUR Father. We are his children. He cares comforts and looks after us with His Son, Jesus. We are a spiritual family. So then why, knowing the importance of the FAMILY and a FATHER, is it “just” and “okay” for children to lose their father, comforter, a guide for something not inherently wicked? There are rules in America, they are here to protect us, FACTS. But, there are hills to die on and battles to fight, and often times the ones we chose to fight, are not the right ones.

To RG’s credit, he has been very forgiving and willing to start this dialogue with people. He has shown incredible patience and gone beyond what is expected. That is already a sentiment to what Lecrae said to him above.

In summation, it’s okay to believe what you want. It’s fine to have an opinion on something that opposes someone. What’s not fine, is to step out without grace and compassion. First address the wound. Help find a way to cause healing and relief. Then sit back and figure out how to best have these conversations and have a solution. Also remember, you are called first to be a representative of Christ. How would He handle this situation?

The issue isn’t black and white and the church will be better off handling these discussions in a nuanced way. We need prominent church leaders to step up to the plate and try open dialogues with their congregation. The last few years have seen a bit of growth dealing with Black Lives Matter and the voices of African Americans. Another powerful step would be in the direction of immigrant families who are being torn apart in a country founded by immigrants who serve an immigrant Savior.

Listen to WHATUPRG Below:

Photo credit: Joe Gonzales