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Christian Leaders Issue Statements on Separation of Families at the Border

A shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel

In recent weeks, we have watched with horror at the implementation of policies from the Department of Justice regarding the treatment of people migrating to the United States.

In early May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy resulting in de facto family separation: children are immediately removed from their parents as they are apprehended after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. And three days ago, the Attorney General also announced a policy reversing protections for asylum seekers fleeing domestic abuse and gang violence. Neither threat of violence is now considered grounds for asylum.
Furthermore — and in response to the ardent opposition from a wide array of faith communities — the officials responsible for these policies have recently used Christian scripture to justify their actions.
To argue that these policies are consistent with Christian teaching is unsound, a flawed interpretation, and a shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel.
Administration officials have used the Christian text of Paul’s Letter to the Romans — his first and weightiest epistle — to justify their actions. The ethical teachings of Romans 12-16 describe that consecrated Christian life requires the duties of love and hospitality. The commandment in Chapter 13 to “be subject to the governing authorities” is bracketed by preceding and following passages containing the command to “love.”
Earlier verses detail what love looks like:
Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord…extend hospitality to strangers. (Romans 12: 9-11, 13 NRSV, emphasis added)
Subsequent verses further clarify the centrality of love and its comprehensive nature, stating that all the
commandment[s] are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13: 9-10 NRSV, emphasis added)
We are reminded by Paul that love is the way.
Jesus is our way, our truth, our life. The Christ we follow would have no part in ripping children from their mothers’ arms or shunning those fleeing violence. It is unimaginable that faith leaders even have to say that these policies are antithetical to the teachings of Christ.
Christian sacred texts should never be used to justify policies that oppress or harm children and families.
Those using the Bible to justify these horrific policies, should also read the prophet Isaiah:
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, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10: 1-3 NIV)
The Trump Administration implemented these policies. They have the power to stop these horrific actions. Join me in calling on the Department of Justice, and especially on our fellow United Methodist, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to immediately reverse these decisions.
When you reach out, be sure to share with them the Social Principles of our United Methodist Church, which uphold the rights of immigrants, oppose family separation, and demand protections for womenchildren and men from violence.
U.S. Department of Justice
Phone: 202-353-1555
Twitter: @TheJusticeDept

Secretary Nielsen,
As women of faith, we call on the Department of Homeland Security to immediately stop tearing apart families. As Secretary of the Department, you bear moral responsibility for ripping toddlers from their mothers’ arms in a cruel effort to deny them the ability to seek asylum and safety in accordance with our laws. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has separated over 600 children from their parents at the border in May alone. In many cases, parents are not told where their children will be taken.
Many of these families seek to apply for asylum; by international law, these families should receive a fair hearing, not immediately be judged as criminals.
In all of our faith traditions, women have always taken action when their families and communities have been at risk of grave evil and injustice: from Hagar fleeing with her son, to Esther intervening on behalf of her people, to Mary escaping with Jesus to protect him from Herod’s genocide. We stand in the tradition of these women of valor to defend families from the pain and trauma of our government’s cruel and inhumane treatment.
By tearing apart families, our government traumatizes children of God and tramples on our values. The soul of our nation is at stake.
A society is measured by how we care for the most vulnerable among us. Children arriving at the border with their families, many fleeing violence in their native countries, have already experienced significant trauma. The least we can do is to refrain from adding to this trauma by ripping these children away from their families.
As women of faith, we are united in moral conviction that justice is a deed, not just a word. As a public servant, you have the power and the duty to do justice by keeping children united with their families instead of coldly pulling them apart. As a leader and as a woman, you must put an end to this horror. Whether at the border or in their homes, children belong with their families.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          
Thursday, June 7, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is joining other faith organizations in a statement urging the U.S. government to stop its policy of separating immigrant families.
Below is the full statement signed by dozens of faith organizations. Bishop Kenneth H.  Carter, president of the Council of Bishops, signed on behalf of the Council.
Recently, the U.S. Administration announced that it will begin separating families and criminally prosecuting all people who enter the U.S. without previous authorization. As religious leaders representing diverse faith perspectives, united in our concern for the well-being of vulnerable migrants who cross our borders fleeing from danger and threats to their lives, we are deeply disappointed and pained to hear this news. 
We affirm the family as a foundational societal structure to support human community and understand the household as an estate blessed by God. The security of the family provides critical mental, physical and emotional support to the development and wellbeing of children. Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children.  
As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the children and families that will suffer due to this policy and urge the Administration to stop their policy of separating families.
His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian
Diocesan Legate and
Director of the Ecumenical Office
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America
Mr. Azhar Azeez
Islamic Society of North America
The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton, PA
Chair, Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
Senior Bishop George E. Battle, Jr.
Presiding Prelate, Piedmont Episcopal District
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr.
President, Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer
General Minister & President
United Church of Christ
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Rev. David Guthrie
President, Provincial Elders’ Conference
Moravian Church Southern Province
Mr. Glen Guyton
Executive Director
Mennonite Church USA
The Rev. Teresa Hord Owens
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rabbi Rick Jacobs
Union for Reform Judaism
Mr. Anwar Khan
Islamic Relief USA
The Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller
President, Provincial Elders’ Conference
Moravian Church Northern Province
The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II
Stated Clerk
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rabbi Jonah Pesner
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
The Rev. Don Poest
Interim General Secretary
The Rev. Eddy Alemán
Candidate for General Secretary
Reformed Church in America
Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick III
Presiding Bishop, The 8th Episcopal District
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
The Rev. Phil Tom
Executive Director
International Council of Community Churches
Senior Bishop McKinley Young
Presiding Prelate, Third Episcopal District
African Methodist Episcopal Church