Going into the holiday weekend, I was thankful that Elian Gonzales would at least know the joy of one Easter in his lifetime, before Fidel Castro turns the child into a model Young Communist.
With the INS commando raid on Holy Saturday, Janet Reno robbed Elian of that tender mercy. Presumably Reno ordered Elian snatched at that time because no one, not even paranoid Miami Cubans, would think the government capable of violating the holiest feast on the Christian calendar to seize the boy at gunpoint.
From a purely strategic point of view, this was a smart move. From a religious point of view, this traumatic act defiled the sacred holiday and inflicted a cruel insult upon the deeply Christian community in Cuban Miami, many of whom have been praying daily outside the Gonzalez home.
And not only Cubans: the Easter blitzkrieg signals to all Americans of faith that the U.S. Government does not respect the sanctity of your holy days when they interfere with its will, even when it has the freedom to grant that common decency. As a religious believer, this makes me sleep a little less easy these days.
If Juan Miguel Gonzales, Elian's father, were a practicing Christian, perhaps it would be understandable that Reno wanted to reunite the two so that they could worship together. But Juan Miguel is a devout communist. Religion is by definition anathema to him. There was no compelling reason to violate the Easter weekend to seize this child, particularly in such a violent manner. What would two more days have mattered?
Even if one believes that Elian belongs with his father now--and I do hold that people of faith can, in good faith, disagree on this wrenching issue--I cannot understand why the Easter blitzkrieg attack upon the Gonzalez house is not being thoroughly and loudly condemned by religious leaders.