Diverse Faith Leaders Denounce President Trump’s Anticipated Announcement on Refugee Resettlement

January 27, 2017


Faith leaders from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions express their grave concern and opposition to reports of troubling executive orders that are anticipated by President Trump regarding immigrants and refugees. These orders include building a wall across the U.S. southern border, forcing local police to serve as federal immigration agents, and detaining families and children as soon as they cross the U.S. border to keep them from seeking safety. There are also media reports of pending announcements that would grind refugee resettlement to a halt, bar refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, and preference religious minorities from certain nationalities – tantamount to a ban on Muslims.

More than 2,000 faith leaders have sent a letter to President Trump and the U.S. Congress opposing any policy that would deny refugees access to resettlement based on their nationality or religion. To read their statement please visit http://bit.ly/FaithLeaders4ALLRefugees.


Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church:

“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. Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

“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. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ:

“Many of our congregations in the United Church of Christ are involved in welcoming refugees and aiding in the resettlement  and integration process. It is part of our faith tradition and a moral imperative to serve those who have faced life threatening, trauma, and extreme injustice. We cannot condone excluding people based on their nationality or religious background, but instead must work towards inclusivity and justice for all, no matter where they are on life’s journey. The UCC will continue to be in solidarity with refugees as we advocate for policies that welcome all people.”

Rabbi Jack Moline, President, Interfaith Alliance:

“Our country has always welcomed those fleeing persecution and violence; it is, in fact, the story of how we came to be.  We must stand up to those peddling xenophobia.  We must choose wisdom over hateful rhetoric. Our elected leaders must live up to the mandate inherited from our ancestors, starting with President Washington who celebrated that our United States offered “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church:

“As followers of Jesus, we reject in the strongest terms efforts to halt refugee resettlement or impose a religious test for those facing forced migration. United Methodists around the world are loving their neighbors by welcoming refugees into their congregations and communities. We pray and ask that our political leaders and policy makers follow their lead and compassionately welcome those in need.”

Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church:

“We are guided by our faith in the commandments to love God and love our neighbors, whoever they may be. We cannot separate the two, and seek to be welcoming of all people because loving God means loving our fellow human being. We pray that our country reflects principles of both welcome and of religious freedom, and that we remember the value of diversity. As refugees flee conflict, may we seek to offer them compassion, and not turn them away for any reason, including their religious identity.”

Jim Wallace, President and Founder of Sojourners:

“U.S. citizens, immigrants and refugees who practice their Islamic faith in this country — our friends and neighbors — are our brothers and sisters as fellow human beings and children of God.. We will never accept a religious test for entry into the United States. As Jesus taught us in Matthew 25, our Christian faith should compel us to act — to advocate for welcoming refugees of all faiths into our country instead of turning them away. Religious tests, in addition to being morally repugnant, would threaten our nation’s democratic principles and the constitutional rights of every American. The violation of the religious freedom of our Muslim brothers and sisters must be not be accepted by any people of faith.”

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice:

“Catholic teaching is very clear: we are called to welcome the stranger. President Trump’s actions today are antithetical to our faith. As Pope Francis said when he addressed Congress, “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.” The Catholic Sisters and community of NETWORK Lobby will continue to do all they can to welcome refugees and immigrants in accordance with this core faith belief.”

Rev. Dr. William Barber, President, National Senior lecturer, Repairers of the Breach, Architect of Moral Mondays and Moral Revival:

“The United States Constitution expressly establishes freedom of religion as a core American value. Furthermore, our deepest religious values call us to welcome and not to refuse our brothers and sisters. When these words “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” were placed on lady liberty, it did not mean only some, or only white, or only non-Muslims.  This ban on travelers, even children, from Muslim-majority and Middle Eastern nations, these threats against Mexicans and others who try to enter our country at our southern border, are the first steps in a Trump-era agenda that criminalizes faith, nationality, and people of color, and it flies in the face of the American and moral values we hold dear. These acts smell of racism and reek of xenophobia. They will make us less safe, and weaken our democracy. We do not — we will not — ban, register, or deport people based on their religion, their country of origin, or their skin color – not Muslims, not Mexicans, not Syrians – not anyone.”

Rev. Dr. Richard Cizik, President, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good:

“Let me clearly state what should be obvious: American political history, the moral principles of Christian faith, and the enormous contributions made by immigrants to America combine to make refugee admissions — even from war-torn Syria — a good and compassionate thing to do.  However, to expand the boundaries of our inclusion will require a greater degree of political vision, compassion, and bold determination.  We who are the “new evangelicals” will oppose violations of these principles by President Trump with equal determination.”

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, San Francisco Area, The United Methodist Church:

“Religious faith should never be an obstacle to whether we extend a hand of welcome to the refugee or the immigrant. To close the door to those who are Muslim or of other living faiths, is not a faithful expression of Christian faith or of the principal, that all are created equal, that the U.S. was formed upon. The direction the Trump administration would take us in, is but a veiled attempt to exclude receiving refugees who are not Christians, but whose lives are just as worthy.   Such a direction only weakens what has made our country strong – a commitment to stand with the vulnerable, the oppressed, the suffering, regardless of their religious faith.”

Rev. John L. McCullough, CWS President and CEO:

“Church World Service is staunchly opposed and gravely disheartened by this callous, discriminatory decision, which turns our backs on refugees when they are most in need of safety. Make no mistake––by restricting access to resettlement for Syrians, President Trump is manifesting the “Muslim ban” that he threatened on the campaign trail. My heart is heavy for Syrian refugees who believed our promise to them; for their family members who are here and desperately waiting to be reunited with their sister, brother, parent or child; and for the very soul of this nation.”

Imam Omar Suleiman, President, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research:

“Refugees have had to fight multiple battles in these last few years. While trying to survive the harshest of conditions, they’ve had to convince the world that they too are human and worthy of basic dignity. Our anger should not be directed at the refugees, but those who have made them refugees.”

Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA:

“By effectively preventing the entrance of refugees into this country, President Trump is establishing a policy would have kept Joseph, Mary, and Jesus from entering our nation. We ask President Trump to repent and show kindness to the stranger and the refugee that is central to Christian and American values.”

The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association and Hon. Thomas Andrews, president and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee:

“In the face of looming threats to immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and the LGBTQ community and the rise of hate speech, harassment and hate crimes, we affirm our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We will oppose any and all unjust government actions to deport, register, discriminate, or despoil. As people of conscience, we declare our commitment to translate our values into action as we stand on the side of love with the most vulnerable among us.”

Catherine Orsborn, Campaign Director, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign:

“In my own upbringing in an evangelical Christian community, I learned early on that loving my neighbor (as well as my enemy), and seeking to come alongside “the least of these” were core to what it meant to live out the message of Jesus in the world.  I am also a student of the history of religious and racial prejudice in our nation, and I am convinced that right now, the patriotic and  Christian response is to stand alongside refugees fleeing unimaginable conditions to find safety, rest, and opportunity on these shores.  To ban any person based on their religious identity flies in the face of America’s promise of religious and racial equality.  Not only is it immoral to take this route, but it does nothing to make us more safe.  People of faith and moral conviction should take every step to oppose this action.”

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights:

“The Torah teaches thirty-six times that the Jewish experience of being strangers in Egypt and fleeing to freedom compels us to care for the stranger in our own midst. The Jewish community knows too well the dangers facing refugees fleeing war and violence, as too many of our own families died because the US borders were virtually closed to Jewish refugees during the Nazi regime. T’ruah joins with the more than 1500 rabbis who have signed the HIAS rabbinic letter welcoming refugees in calling on our elected officials to keep America’s doors open and to maintain our historic and moral commitment to serving as a lifeline to those fleeing persecution and violence.”

Rev Jennifer Butler, CEO Faith in Public Life:

“As a community of faith, we must fiercely condemn Mr. Trump’s vicious and unprincipled attack on Muslims. Welcoming immigrants and refugees who come to America to make a better and safer life for their families is a defining feature of our nation’s past, present and future. As a Presbyterian pastor speaking to a Presbyterian president, I urge Mr. Trump to not allow unchaste discrimination to be the hallmark policy of his burgeoning administration.”

Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO National Council of Jewish Women:

“NCJW opposes any actions to reduce refugee resettlement, including measures that would discriminate based on religion or nation of origin. As Jews we are taught va’ahavtem et ha-ger — as we were once strangers, so must we love the stranger. We must rise above prejudice and fear to open our communities to the individuals and families who seek sanctuary in the United States.”

Peter Vander Muelen, Coordinator of the Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church in North American:

“My Christian denomination has proudly welcomed refugees for as long as I can remember — it’s part of what makes us who we are. In the wake of the largest refugee crisis in modern history, we cannot refuse certain nationalities or religious groups, or reduce the numbers of people we welcome. These policies will be a devastating blow to the infrastructure of our crucial resettlement programs, and it’s also just morally wrong. I hope the faith community speaks — loudly — against these policies which so directly works against what has long been our calling.”

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Vice President for Community Engagement, HIAS (New York, NY):

“Jewish tradition teacher that every person is created in the image of God, and that we should welcome the stranger with respect and compassion. The outpouring of support from more than 1,700 rabbis, working alongside other faith and non-sectarian partners to stand up for refugees, comes at a critical moment. Compelled by our community’s own history as a refugee people, rabbis from across the country are raising their voices in support of the U.S. legacy of welcome.”

Imam John Ederer, Islamic Society of Tulsa:

“The Islamic Society of Tulsa has already been working with our partners from Catholic Charities and are currently caring for many refugee families. It is the responsibility of the faith community to come together to spread compassion for the less fortunate. These people have been put through unspeakable hardships and it would be absolutely unequivocally wrong to shun them assuming they could be terrorists after the Norma interview and vetting process.”

Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk, Senior Rabbi, Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple (Beachwood, OH):

“When I have met refugees arriving in Ohio, I see in them memories of my own ancestors seeking safety, hope, and protection. I refuse to respond to refugees arriving in the U.S. with suspicion and enmity. We must combat the view that refugees are to be feared.”

Patrick Carolan, Executive Director Franciscan Action Network:

“The Gospels call us to welcome the stranger, so as people of faith, we advocate and support the rights and dignity of all people, especially immigrants and refugees. The United States was built by immigrants and we must continue to protect our immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers and keep families together.”

Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, Ph.D, Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies, Jewish Theological Seminary:

“The Torah, a pillar of Judeo-Christian thinking and a fundamental document for the Abrahamic religions, thoroughly informed the ethos of our Founding Fathers and the “city on a hill” we call America. Throughout the Torah God repeatedly exhorts us to “be kind to the stranger,” to have “one law for yourself and for the stranger who dwells among you,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” We have always been a country that welcomes the refugee, and are proud to be a nation of immigrants. The Statue of Liberty reminds us “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. “ We must continue to “lift our lamp” of welcome “beside the golden door.” To do otherwise is to lose the very soul of our great nation.”

Scott Wright, Director, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach:

“Welcoming refugees and immigrants is at the heart of our faith traditions. We must never forget that we are a nation of refugees and immigrants. Now more than ever, we must not close our doors to Syrian refugees and all those who flee persecution and violence, and stand in solidarity with them.”

Gerry Lee, Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns:

“We cannot let fear blind us to the despair of migrants and refugees, including refugees from Syria and from different faith traditions. Pope Francis proclaimed that “refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women, and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes…the flesh of Christ is in the flesh of the refugees.” The faithful response is not to build a wall or to discriminate against Muslims, but to open our hearts and our homes to refugees of all faiths in recognition of our sacred call to protect and nourish life. If we refuse to welcome refugees in urgent need, we risk becoming like those we claim to deplore.”

Rev. Paula Clayton Dempsey, Director of Partnership Relations, Alliance of Baptists

“The plight of the displaced is well-documented with the influx of refugees evident along borders, or in small, vulnerable boats dangerously crossing the Mediterranean Sea, or in the overflowing camps in host countries providing emergency relief. More than fifty percent of the refugees are children, many of them orphaned and/or dealing with the loss of family members through the nightmares of trauma and violence they’ve experienced. The Alliance of Baptists joins the international call for justice and mercy for such vulnerable people. Our faithful actions of advocacy for the rights of refugees is rooted in our concern for all human beings and the protection of the resident alien in biblical justice and Jesus’ call of righteous acts of compassion to those in need.”

Sr. Madeleine Munday, Provincial, Province of Mid-North America, Sisters of the Good Shepherd

“Refugees fleeing for their lives should not be denied entry into our country because of their religious beliefs. Such a policy is contrary to our most cherished beliefs as Christians and as a nation.”

Rev. Greg Allan-Pickett, Director of Global Mission, First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta

“The call for hospitality towards the immigrant, refugee and stranger does not come simply from one or two verses in the Bible; it really does represent the entire narrative arc of Scripture. God frequently shows hospitality and compassion to the alien, foreigner, immigrant, sojourner, stranger and refugee — and God repeatedly requires the same of God’s followers, of us. There is no escaping our collective call towards this vital ministry of love. Refugee resettlement has transformed my congregation. By opening our doors and our hearts to people who have been displaced due to violent wars and conflicts, we are sharing the love and light of Christ in profound ways. While initially there was fear, that has been replaced by love and joy when we meet the families and walk with them in the resettlement process. Don’t deny this opportunity to the thousands of churches and millions of Christians around the United States who receive many blessings through this ministry of hospitality and love. We must work to overcome that fear and live into our calling to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6) and seek to take care of the stranger, foreigner, refugee and immigrant, the “least of these” remembering that whatever we do for them, we do for Jesus himself. (Matthew 25) Our faith requires us to do so. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

The Rt. Reverend Rob Wright D.D. , Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

“To welcome the immigrant and refugee with compassion is to be an American guided by the words the Statue of Liberty has inscribed on her base. To welcome the immigrant and refugee with compassion is among the highest expressions of faithfulness there is according to Jesus.  Remember Jesus and his family were immigrants and refugees too.”

Rev. Dr. James Rissler, Pastor, Atlanta Mennonite Fellowship

“No one leaves home and family for the unknown, often at great risk, lightly. Refugees flee violence and oppression that most of us can’t even imagine. I hope that the wealth of our nation can be matched by a generosity of heart that has characterized the best of who we are as Americans. I hope that we will expand our embrace of those seeking safety and opportunity among us, not close ourselves off out of fear to refugees seeking new life among us.”

Kent French, Senior Pastor, The United Parish in Brookline

“Throughout our scriptures, we read about God’s people welcoming the stranger (Genesis 18), and that sometimes when we do so, we are entertaining angels without even knowing it (Hebrews 13:1-2).
Just a few weeks ago, we reminded ourselves that Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus were refugees in their flight to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-23) and remember that the people of Israel were refugees again and again throughout their exiles. As people of faith, we are called to welcome all, to show hospitality, to offer refuge and to seek and nurture our common humanity as beloved children of God.”

Rev. Rob Mark, Pastor of Church of the Covenant, Boston

“As a follower of Jesus, and a minister of the gospel of love, ever fiber in my being is called to love my neighbor and the stranger in my midst- as myself. Therefore any policy or rhetoric of “othering” is deeply against my religion and I will stand boldly against it at every turn. I and my entire congregation in the heart of downtown Boston are firmly against any policy coming from our new presidential administration or congress that halts, suspends or caps Muslim/ Arab immigration. We will also stand firmly in opposition to any such hateful policies.”

Rabbi Eliana Jacobowitz. Temple B’nai Brith of Somerville.

“The Torah teaches us to not stand idly by when another is being oppressed. We are commended to help the needy and to welcome the stranger. In the face of the tragedy of millions of Syrian refugees there can be only one response. Open our borders and let them in. Let them find safety. Let them find peace. Let them find a home with us in the United States.”

Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird, First Baptist, Louisville

“As people who follow Jesus we are clearly instructed that what we do to “the least of these” we do to him.  Jesus’ solidarity with the marginalized demands that we too speak up for those who are being oppressed.  To deny refugees, or anyone, welcome to this land because of their religion is not only un-American, it is antithetical to the Christian faith.”

Amanda Tyler, Executive Director, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty

“Any attempt to ban Muslim refugees based on their religion betrays our values and sends the un-American message that there are second-class faiths. Our country, founded by immigrants who established religious freedom as a bedrock principle, is better than this. A threat to anyone’s religious liberty is a threat to everyone’s religious liberty, and we as Baptists stand with those facing religious persecution around the world, regardless of their faith.”

The Rev. Amy McCreath, Rector, Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopal), Watertown MA

“As a person of faith and an ordained Christian minister, I oppose all policies to halt Muslim or Arab immigration or to cap immigration artificially. There is nothing in the scriptures upon which my faith rests to support such policies and they are in direct conflict with the example of Jesus and the call of the gospel. My position is in keeping with the long record of support for open immigration of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and several recent public statements from our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry.  In my ministry, I have come to know many Muslim families in Watertown and Belmont, all of whom are models to me of positive civic involvement and all of whom are praying for loved ones who are living with the ravages of war back home or living as refugees. We pray each week in my church for specific people from Syria and Iran, by name, for whom coming to a new home in this nation is the only hope. As the second-largest community of Armenians in the U.S., Watertown is a place that has been built by refugee families. This Armenian community is clear about its call to welcome those who have lost everything because of oppression and prejudice and invite them to use their gifts and skills to build a new life and contribute to the common welfare here. Halting Muslim or Arab immigration would be an abrogation of our commitment to human rights. We would be rescinding all claims to be a moral leader in the global community. “

The Reverend Matthew R. Rasure, Minister, The First Baptist Church of Medford

“In Matthew 25, Jesus said that whatever we do for the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and the hopeless, we do for HIM. Events across the world have bought him to us once again. Issa, “Hay-zoos”, Yezu, and Jesus by many other names all stand at our gate crying for justice and compassion. The true Church will never turn them away. We will welcome them when we have little more than our own bread, water, and clothing to share. We will welcome them when it is inconvenient for us.  And we will welcome them in defiance of any government and authority that would create policies in defiance of God’s higher call to compassion.”

Dani Passow, Orthodox Rabbi, Harvard Hillel, Harvard Chaplain

“The Jewish people were born as a nation of refugees, feeling the tyranny of slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago.  The Torah, our holiest text, calls upon us, time after time, to remember our suffering in Egypt, to learn from that experience, and to treat foreigners in our midst with deep compassion.  In modern history, we lived in perpetual exile from our homeland, and, as refugees, were persecuted throughout the world.  America has served as a refuge from that persecution, for us and for countless others.  This is our great value, and we must continue to be a sanctuary for those who are persecuted.

Rabbi Howard Berman, Rabbi Devon A. Lerner of Central Reform Temple

“The Torah teaches us “You shall not wrong or oppress the stranger (foreigner), for your were once strangers in the land of Egypt.”  Throughout history we have experienced the dehumanization of discrimination.  We strongly oppose any laws that would indiscriminately ban all Muslim immigration to this country. “

Reb Moshe, Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Zion

“Immigrants have been the lifeblood of our country. The closing of the gates to immigrants in 1924 precluded the continued influx of Jews and others from Eastern Europe. The doors closing on immigration to the United States spread throughout the world and when Hitler observed that no one “wanted” the Jews  in 1938 his plans for their annihilation were aided and abetted. When doors are closed to people who lives are endangered we violate the basic values of our traditions.  We all identify with the story of the Israelites in Egypt. Our traditions of hospitality and openness to strangers are always based on the facts that “we were once  slaves in Egypt”. That is why the 5 Books of Moses has over 30 demands that we love the stranger.”

The Rev. Dr. James Moos, United Church of Christ, Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries

“We stand firm in our call for an extravagant welcome for refugees, without discrimination as to place of origin or religion.  Anything less is a denial of justice and a subversion of America’s highest ideals.”

Imam Adeel Zeb, Muslim Chaplain of the Claremont Colleges.

“The Prophet Muhammad taught that none of you truly believes until you love for your brothers and sisters what you love for yourself. How would we feel if ourselves or our families were suffering and needed refugee in America? I am vehemently opposed to the Trump administration’s banning of immigrants and Muslims, this country was built upon and became golden through the tireless contribution of immigrants and we wouldn’t be the same without all of America’s family.”

Rector. Holly Lyman Antolini, St. James’s Episcopal Church

“At St. James’s Episcopal Church in Porter Square Cambridge, our Anti-Oppression Team has begun immigrant rights training in preparation to support our sister congregations offering sanctuary to immigrants afraid of deportation. Here’s why, in a nutshell: When we are baptized into Christ, we vow to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves’ and to ‘strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being. No exceptions. Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 25 that whatever we do