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February 03, 2017

Faith Leaders Join Forces against Trump’s Executive Order

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(Image courtesy of Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washinginton)

Thousands of faith leaders have voiced strong opposition to President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants—including refugees— from several predominately Muslim countries. Faith-based organizations from all around the United States drafted open letters to Congress and President Trump condemning the order.

In response to the executive order’s implicit “Muslim ban”—a term that, while not stated in the order itself, was used by Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani to describe its intentions—more than 35,000 diverse faith leaders and supporters signed a letter opposing such practices: “Together, representing our various faiths, we decry derogatory language that has been used about Middle Eastern refugees and our Muslim friends and neighbors. Inflammatory rhetoric has no place in our response to this humanitarian crisis.”

The letter also called on America to live up to its ideals, emphasizing that “As people of faith, our values call us to welcome the stranger, love our neighbor, and stand with the vulnerable, regardless of their religion.”

Legions of national faith groups also released statements supporting refugee resettlement based on vulnerability—not geography or religion as indicated by the executive order. According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “The refugees fleeing from ISIS and other extremists are sacrificing all they have in the name of peace and freedom... Our nation should welcome them as allies in a common fight against evil… The actions of our government must remind people of basic humanity. Where our brothers and sisters suffer rejection and abandonment we will lift our voice on their behalf.”

The National Association of Evangelicals also weighed in: “Evangelical churches and ministries have long played a key role in welcoming, resettling, and assisting in the integration of refugees from various parts of the world. As such, we are troubled by the recent Executive Order temporarily halting refugee resettlement and dramatically reducing the number of refugees who could be considered for resettlement to the U.S.”

In addition to these Christian voices, more than 1,900 prominent Rabbis from the Jewish community voiced their concern: “We also know what it looks like for America to turn its back on refugees. We have seen xenophobia overwhelm our nation’s capacity for compassion, and we have seen the doors slam shut in our greatest hours of need. Severe restrictions kept countless Jewish immigrants in danger, and too many people faced death in Europe after being turned away from these shores. We appeal to our elected officials to ensure that the refugee program be maintained and strengthened for refugees of all ethnic and religious backgrounds—not halted, paused, or restricted.”

The executive order also prioritizes resettlement of Christian over non-Christian refugees, a policy that some Christian groups consider “un-American.” The National Council of Churches writes, “The president has stated his preference to come to the aid of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. The National Council of Churches, too, is deeply concerned about the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in war-torn regions. Our Christian sisters and brothers have been deeply impacted by anti-Christian persecution in Syria, Iraq, and other countries. Nevertheless, placing a religious test upon those fleeing persecution is un-American.”

Faith leaders continue to join forces, demonstrating their unity and quest to protect American ideals of diversity and religious freedom. At a press conference hosted by The InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, more than two dozen faith leaders gathered to issue a joint statement outlining “An Interfaith Vision for Our Community.” At the event Washington Archdioceses Cardinal Wuerl said, “While we are very aware of the need for security, we also very much recognize that cannot be at the cost of a failure to recognize the needs of people being persecuted. We very strongly invite people who are suffering persecution to come and be welcomed by all of us.”