PRESS RELEASE: Faith Leaders Denounce Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Statements, Say Do Not Appropriate Our Sacred Texts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 22, 2018

Contact: Jennifer Amuzie - Interfaith Immigration Coalition | jamuzie@interfaithimmigration.org | 202-867-4567

Faith Leaders Denounce Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Statements, Say Do Not Appropriate Our Sacred Texts

WASHINGTON - Offended that Attorney General Jeff Sessions used sacred texts to justify border tactics that are “immoral, inhumane, and unnecessary,” on Friday, June 22, dozens of local and national faith delivered the letter denouncing the practice and his rationale. 

Within the letter, interfaith signers urged Congress to reject bills that expanded child detention, like the Ryan compromise bill and its equivalent in the Senate, and encouraged compassionate legislative solutions that include long-term solutions and alternatives to detention which affirm each person’s God-given dignity. 

Sessions’ ‘zero tolerance’ policy destroys families, punishes people fleeing violence and effectively turns those most vulnerable people who  try to cross the border between ports of entry into criminals. Even with the executive action that reverses the cruel practice of separating children from their families, children and their caregivers will face another reality faith leaders find unacceptable - indefinite placement in detention facilities. 

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The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is made up of nearly 50 national, faith-based organizations brought together across many theological traditions with a common call to seek just policies that lift up the God-given dignity of every individual. In partnership, we work to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of all refugees and migrants.

Letter Content:

Faith Leaders to Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Do Not Appropriate Our Sacred Texts

As national and local faith-based organizations and groups we are appalled at Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recent use of the Bible as justification for forcibly separating families seeking asylum at our border.

Let us be clear; the Administration’s border enforcement tactics are, immoral, inhumane and unnecessary. It is an affront to religious faith that Administration officials are using the Bible to rationalize and validate these immoral actions. As it was in the eras of slavery and legal segregation, this perverse misuse of sacred scripture once again appears to be designed specifically to single out people of color.

Children should not be forcibly taken away from their parents; they and their parents should not be subject to inhumane conditions. As the prophet Isaiah says in chapter 10: “woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.”

We are called to ‘welcome the stranger’ and to ‘love our neighbors,’ and as a nation of immigrants we should be ashamed. The Bible is unambiguous in the call to love God and love our neighbor as St. Paul's Letter to the Romans tells us: "Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:10 New International Version)

This is not merely a sentiment found in New Testament Christianity but in a wide variety of faith traditions. For example, The Torah teaches 'kavod ha’briot' – that all people deserve respect and dignity – as well as commanding us to welcome the stranger, for once we were strangers in the land of Egypt. The Qur'an directs us to “do good to...those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer that you meet” (4:36)

Our country has a moral obligation to help those fleeing persecution, violence and harmful living conditions. Those vulnerable populations deserve our compassion and assistance and are instead cruelly detained and further traumatized.

These horrific human rights abuses perpetrated on and in our borders are intolerable. As people of faith we are committed to ensuring everyone is treated with dignity because everyone is made in the image and likeness of God.

We call on Congress to enact policies that honor the core tenets of human dignity and family unity. Compassionate immigration reforms would help heal our communities and our nation. Congress should invest in long-term solutions rather than endless enforcement.

We call on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to cease this cruel separation and incarceration of parents and children seeking refuge in our nation.

We join people of faith and goodwill throughout America who are speaking out and acting against these appalling practices.

Alliance of Baptists
American Baptist/Alliance of Baptist Clergy
American Jewish World Service
Center for Pluralism
Central Baptist Church, Wayne PA
Christ House
Church World Service
Conference of Superiors of Men
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
Corinthian Baptist Church
Disciples Center for Public Witness (Disciples of Christ)
Disciples Justice Action Network
Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice
Equity for Women in the Church
Franciscan Action Network
Franciscan Friars, T.O.R.
Franciscans for Justice
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)
Interfaith Council of Alameda County
Interfaith Worker Justice
Islamic Association of The Colony
Lake Shore Baptist Church
Leadership Conference  of Women Religious
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Pacific Coast Baptist Association
Palisades Community Church
Pax Christi USA
Peace of Christ Church
Royal Lane Baptist Church
School Sisters of Saint Francis
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas' Institute Leadership Team
Sisters of Saint Francis of Penance and Christian Charity
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee
Texas Muslim Women Foundation , Inc
The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church & Society
Third Order, Society of St. Francis
Twinbrook Baptist Church
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries

 
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