US denies visas to foreign church delegates

Ekklesia reports that the US has denied visas to people attending denominational conferences:


When the Baptist World Alliance held its global conference in Hawaii earlier in August, it was missing about 1000 attendees from around the world.

In June, the inaugural meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches in Grand Rapids, in the US state of Michigan, was missing 74, and the Seventh-day Adventists' general conference in Atlanta was missing about 200, Religion News Service reports.

The three church groups said foreign delegates' visas were denied by US officials, meaning some nations lacked representation at the global assemblies which occur only once every several years.

The Rev Susan Davies of the United Church of Christ said she was "outraged" at the WCRC visa denials. Organisers of the gathering erected a banner to mark their absence.

''I was deeply saddened" by the visa problems, said the Rev Clifton Kirkpatrick, the former president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, which merged with another group in Grand Rapids to form the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

''I don't think you hear of government events or corporate events that have this percentage of people denied visas."


Will this make exchanges with our partners in mission more difficult. What will we need to do to ensure easy exchanges for visitors?

Comments (10)

All this and Peter Akinola, who never answered questions about what he knew of the massacre at Yelwa roams free.

What will we need to do to ensure easy exchanges for visitors?

Hold meetings in a country where this does not happen.

I hear Cuidad Juarez has a number of convention openings at present.

Akinola was famously turned back at the Jordanian border causing a disruption in the start of the first meeting of Gafcon. Perhaps the Jordanians are more concerned about Yelwa. Or perhaps CANA was not handling his travel arrangements on that occasion.

This is extremely common for academic conferences and has been since 9/11. Routinely, our scientific colleagues are refused visas to attend or present. This is not limited to visitors from the Middle East, either. There are many horror stories of academic colleagues waiting in long lines, only to be turned down by some peach-fuzzed consular official.

The unwelcoming aspect of entry into the US is also putting off colleagues from Europe and Japan, who can enter without visas, but resent being treated as potential criminals at the port of entry.

It has also become an issue for people with perfectly legitimate visas who go home for a visit. I have had a Brazilian postdoc, and a Chinese PhD student, each delayed for over a month (basically stranded in their home country) because of strange delays in processing their renewals. This happens so frequently that some students don't go home to visit during their course of study.

Susan Forsburg

Let's hold our next General Convention in Curaçao or the Dominican Republic. They're in the Episcopal Church, no visa worries, and everyone would be too busy lying on the beach, sipping mojitos to get angry about the controversy du jour.

As an American I am made to feel like a criminal everytime I go through an American airport. Nude pictures are next then, I suppose, full cavity searches just to get packed into a cattlecar called an airplane.

Hey Paul, which country in the Americas are you from? Which country in Asia are Asians from? Which country in Africa are Africans from? Which country in Europe are Europeans from?

Da ved, I've seen a number of your posts, and I finally clued in to your point and distinction re American and "Statesonian". You make a very provocative and compelling point. I've heard singer songwriter Steve Earle make a similar point in interviews on both sides of the border. He likes to talk about being from Texas as being from occupied Mexico. I suppose all of us who are from the Americas ("Ameridians") can claim the name. But what do I know, being from Maritime Canada, where ties to New England have been/are stronger than ties to Ontario.

Thank you Rod for getting my point. It may well be too late to accomplish much on the matter accept make a number of Statesonians angry. And I have, made a number of folks angry, even among liberal/progressive Anglican blogs.

Unfortunately, most Canadians have responded that they do not wish to be thought of as Americans. They have felt that the name had acquired a connotation/reputation of being linked with a people for whom they did not wish to be mistaken or associated.

I have made a commitment to using an English translation of the Spanish name for people who are citizens of the United States of America, Estadounidense, which translated is United Statesonian. The word is similar in construction to the Spanish word for Canadian, which is Canadiense.

The name American does not belong to the people of any one nation in North or South America. Whether we choose to claim its use, or shy away from it because we feel it has been tainted, all of us who live in the Americas are Americans, which is why our hemispheric association of cooperation is called the Organization of American States. Regardless of the size or type or government we may have, every nation in the Americas is represented in the OAS, with the exception of one, the Republic of Cuba. (Also, the membership of Honduras has been suspended.)

Similarly a large number of the nations of Europe have created a different type of organization of cooperation and they have called it the European Union. But regardless of whether your country is a part of the EU or not, if you live in a nation in Europe, you are a European. The name does not belong to the people of any one European nation.

Interesting discussion Da ved. A Canadian Historian makes the point that for all practical purposes Canadians are Americans, they are just not "United Statesians". Lord Mountbatten ( WWII vintage) once said that he thought of Canadian soldiers as Americans in British uniforms. You are correct, however, that Canadians don't usually wish to be called Americans, especially when traveling abroad. Canadian bishops were quick to tell Cantaur's envoys that "we are not Americans". And I thought, don't worry, no one is going to mistake you guys for Americans. The British Olympic committee just last week released a list of faux pas,--referring to Canadians as Americans is on the list.I think in terms of being a North American. I have a lot of regard for the the political, cultural, and linguistic developments created in the Americas. I certainly place a high value on some of Canadian institutions such as bilingualism and multi-cultural ism. I don't mind being mistaken for an American. It's often an opportunity to engage in conversation. Last year I visited the American Cathedral in Paris. They had a Canadian flag next to the Americna flag at the west end, and in the cloister there is a memorial tablet to Americans who served in Canadian and other commonwealth forces in World War I. As for conversations, some of the most engaging I've had with folks in the States have been about the issue of immigration and undocumented workers. The whole language issue in the Sates is interesting to look in on, coming from an officially bi-lingual country like Canada. When I see help wanted signs in both English and Spanish in Florida, I feel quite at home; but I understand the politics of language are pretty huge.

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space