2,000 Religious Leaders Send Letter to President Trump Opposing Anticipated Refugee Announcement

January 27, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017
Contact: Wardah Khalid | media@cwsglobal.org | 713.587.6342

2,000 Religious Leaders Send Letter to President Trump Opposing Anticipated Refugee Announcement

Washington, D.C. – More than 2,000 religious leaders from across the country signed a letter to President Donald Trump in support of refugee resettlement in the United States and in opposition to any policy change that would bar refugees based on their religion or nationality. A portion of the letter, which can be viewed in its entirety here, reads:

“The U.S. Refugee Resettlement program has been and should remain open to those of all nationalities and religions who face persecution on account of the reasons enumerated under U.S. law. We oppose any policy change that would prevent refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, or individuals who practice Islam and other faiths from accessing the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Proposals that would have the U.S. State Department disqualify refugees from protection based on their nationality or religion fly in the face of the very principles this nation was built upon, contradict the legacy of leadership our country has historically demonstrated, and dishonor our shared humanity.”

In addition to this letter, faith leaders from various religious traditions have made statements denouncing Trump’s announcements on immigration and refugee resettlement. They can be found here, with excerpted statements below:

“Presbyterians, professing a faith in Jesus who entered this world a refugee, have supported refugee resettlement since World War II. Many of our congregations are led by and comprised of former refugees and many more have been transformed by the new friends they have encountered when assisting in resettlement. We are in the midst of a worldwide refugee crisis. Repressing mercy and compassion, in times like these, with groundless limits placed on the faith and nationality of those we should welcome, will not make our nation safer. It will only serve to harm hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting desperately for a safe home and will drive rifts between us and our global neighbors. Our nation is better than this and our congregations stand ready to welcome refugees of all faiths and nations.” – Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church

“The expected executive order defies the best American tradition of being a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution.  As Jews, we recognize the danger in any action that singles out people based on their religious beliefs. If the order is made as anticipated, it is deeply troubling, rooted in exclusion and discrimination, and echoes the most shameful parts of our history.” – Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

“Refugees are called so because they are seeking refuge from threats, violence and persecution. To deny them sanctuary is in effect acquiescing in support of their persecutor. Our values as a nation are built upon a quintessential idea: all men are created equal. And we hold this idea to be a self-evident truth. How we treat refugees reflects our commitment to these values which define us as Americans. We cannot simply see them as a burden. In fact, they are survivors, just as the many generations before us arrived into this country of ours as survivors. Our humanity, our values and our faith, all call for us to be hospitable and to show mercy and compassion to those seeking refuge. Doing otherwise and ignoring this call would simply amount to an act of hypocrisy.” – Imam Ismail Fenni, Islamic Society of Boston

“Temporarily banning vulnerable refugees does not guarantee our security nor reflect our values as Christians. Refugees being resettled in the United States have fled persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political views or association with a particular group. They have waited well over a year to successfully complete security screenings by multiple intelligence agencies while living in a completely foreign culture, many times, still facing danger. As Lutherans, many of our ancestors faced the pain of having to flee our homes and the joy of being welcomed in new communities across the United States. As we have done throughout history, I urge our elected officials to honor our biblical witness as well as the best of our nation’s traditions of refuge and stand firmly against any policies that result in scaling back the refugee resettlement program.” – Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty.