I want to share with you the Sanctuary statement drafted by myself and fellow Interfaith colleagues. We will be publishing this statement this week. We are also planning a vigil next Thursday. I will send details as they develop.
I am also including the Disciple’s Home Mission and Refugee & Immigration Ministries response to Executive Orders against Refugees & Immigrants that was released on Tuesday of this week.
As you must know, raids on undocumented and documented immigrants have ramped up since President Trump’s orders. There have been a growing number of churches throughout the nation who are stepping up to invoke their historical rights to provide sanctuary.
I am proud to be a part of a denomination that has issued strong statements of support for providing sanctuary. I am also proud to be a part of an interfaith clergy group who are willing to stand together for justice.
My faith compels me to speak and act when injustice is happening…especially injustice toward the most vulnerable and most marginalized. After all Jesus was a refugee, and an immigrant.
I hope that you will join with me and my colleagues and their communities of faith as we stand together in this time of injustice. May we be a sign of hope and a place of peace and safety in the midst of great turmoil and fear.
Isaiah 9:2 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
2 [a] The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
Read Disciple’s Home Mission and Refugee & Immigration Ministries response here.
HONORING RELIGIOUS SANCTUARY
At this time in our nation’s history, each of us is called to affirm our profound commitment to the fundamental principles of justice, equity and compassion, to truth and core values of American society. In the face of looming threats to immigrants, Muslims and people of color, and the rise of hate speech, harassment and hate crimes, we as religious leaders affirm our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and declare opposition to any and all unjust government actions to round up and deport individuals in this country.
As people of conscience, we declare our commitment to translate our values into action by recognizing the right of religious communities to offer sanctuary and to stand with the most vulnerable among us. In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, sanctuary is one way for faith communities to resist the divisive and racially charged immigration policies the current administration seeks to enact.
A Short History of Sanctuary
A Sanctuary congregation is one willing to physically shelter an immigrant in danger of immediate deportation, and embodies that faith community’s commitment to justice by providing safe space to those who are victims of unjust laws. Sanctuary is grounded in core religious truths that celebrate diversity, advocate racial justice, honor the dignity of each person, and help create the world we envision.
Sanctuary was recognized both in Roman law and in medieval canon law. English common law provided for sanctuaries as places of refuge for accused criminals in order to provide a due process for determining guilt or to enable the accused to leave the country in safety. The churches served as such a sanctuary. The tradition of sanctuary was appropriated in the “Underground railroad” which provided refuge and protection for fugitive slaves. The meaning of sanctuary was reappropriated in the context of the Vietnam War. Draft resisters and other people who opposed the war entered church sanctuaries to dramatize the immorality of the United States involvement in Vietnam..
Several decades later, beginning in 2007, the New Sanctuary Movement took shape among coalitions of congregations in major cities throughout the country. As immigration raids in neighborhoods and work places escalated in a climate of political paralysis for immigration reform, these congregations opened their doors to provide refuge to those facing deportation. Under a policy set by the Obama administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are supposed to avoid churches and other “sensitive locations.”
THEREFORE, as faith community leaders, we call upon our public officials and all citizens to acknowledge and respect the long tradition of sanctuary.