Presiding Bishop and others call on Trump not to block refugees

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Episcopal Migration Ministries director Reverend E. Mark Stevenson have responded to Donald Trump’s directives and proposed directives ordering the building of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, blocking grants to sanctuary cities and establishing new restrictions on undocumented immigrants and potential immigrants.

From an Episcopal News Service story:

“The work of Episcopal Migration Ministries is God’s work, and we show the face of God through the care and compassion in that work,” Curry said. “I ask President Trump to continue the powerful work of our refugee resettlement program without interruption, recognizing the long wait and screening process that means refugees wait months and sometimes years to enter the country.

“We ask that we continue to accept as many refugees as we have in the past, recognizing the need is greater than ever. We ask that refugees from all countries receive consideration to come to the U.S. and not to ban those who come from countries most in need of our assistance.”


“Isolating ourselves from the world does not make us safer; it only isolates us,” he said. “Being afraid of those who differ from us does not make us wise, or even prudent; it only traps us in an echo chamber of suspicion and anger, and stops us cold from loving as Christ loved.”

The United States cannot solve the problem of violence in other countries, Stevenson said, but “we can act morally and show leadership” by offering refugees a new life in a safe place. He pledged that EMM will “continue to minister to those who have fled their homes because of persecution, violence or war.”

A webinar planned already by EMM will take place on February 1 (we published that announcement on January 19). The ENS story can be read here.

A release from the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service issues a condemnation of Trump’s actions:

“At a time when so many people are fleeing unspeakable violence and persecution to seek refuge in the U.S., today’s decision is a drastic contradiction of what it means to be an American. As the world has its eyes on us, it is imperative that President Trump uphold the values that America has always lived by: compassion, empathy, family, human rights, and protection for those seeking a safe haven from danger and persecution,” said Linda Hartke, LIRS President and CEO.

“As Christians, we do not fear our new neighbors who have fled for their very lives – we embrace them. As people of faith, we are called to love and serve our neighbors – and as a result, our churches, our communities and our nation are stronger,” said Hartke.

We’ll update this post as we are aware of other similar statements.

Photos from Episcopal Migration Ministry

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  1. Where Trump is concerned, we might as well save our breath to cool our soup. However, petitioning our congressional representatives might make some slight impact.

  2. Helen Kromm

    Probably wasn’t such a great idea then to permit a virulent racist, bigot, and homophobic pastor like Robert Jeffress to spout his rhetoric from the lectern of an Episcopal church.

    You can put whatever spin you want on that. Sprinkle it with nuance and try mightily to distance yourself from that. But in the end, when the words “You see, God is not against building walls” are spoken from the lectern of one of your churches located in the center of political power, your credibility to speak against this is compromised.

  3. Anthony Christiansen

    I am so disappointed in our church for hosting the prayer service and particularly for allowing Jeffress to preach from the lectern in one of our churches. And now such weak tea as we read in this statement. The world is crying out for prophecy in response to what is occurring. Apparently it won’t be coming from TEC. I’m embarrassed.

  4. Philip B. Spivey

    I stand in solidarity with our Presiding Bishop, Curry. I don’t hold the Bishop responsible for the blasphemous sermons at the National Cathedral and at St. John’s; I hold the dean and the rector responsible.

    Bishop Curry, like the rest of us, has entered uncharted waters. The coming months and years will involve a very steep learning curve for TEC, and it will test us mightily with this nagging question: “Which side are you on?”

    Unfortunately, right-wing Evangelicals, and their political operative offshoots in the municipal, state and federal houses, have drawn swords with no intention forging them into plowshares. Compromise is gone; accommodation is gone; gray is gone; the fix is in. Christ’s universal Tent has devolved into beach umbrellas for the very wealthy. Or at least, that’s their hope.

    The Episcopal Church has nominally stood as the National Church since the beginning. Is that about to change? I would recommend patience with TEC. We are going to face unprecedented pressures to respond, not to the Trump administration—though there’s a place for that— but to the many millions in the United States who will be victims of his regime. This emerging demographic will need the comfort of our theology, the safety of our churches and the knowledge that we will lend a prophetic voice in this new era, that is courageous and strong.

    We’ll all have to wrap our heads around the fact cozying-up to THIS administration, as the world-wide demonstrations attest—will not play well, even in Kansas.

  5. Philip Snyder

    The government has the primary duty to protect the citizens of the USA and ISIS and other terrorist organizations have indicated their willingness to use refugees to smuggle Jihadis into the USA and other Western countries. Refugees have killed people in the name of Islam in countries such as France and Germany.

    We also have an obligation to care for the refugees. This is a biblical mandate.

    So, I propose a compromise. We let in all women, children under the age of 16, and men over the age of 50. The others we hold, in comfort, until they can be more thoroughly vetted for ties to terrorists organizations. While they are being vetted, and for a period after they come into the country, their electronic communication (phone, email, computer use, etc.) will be monitored to see if they are becoming or are communicating with terrorists.

    I believe that this will minimize the risk of terrorists coming into this country while maximizing the number of refugees that we help.

    • Anand Gnanadesikan

      Mr. Snyder,

      I appreciate that you recognize the Biblical mandate. And if we were dealing with people just washing up on our shores (as is currently happening in Greece) I’d admit you’d have a point.

      But in reality your criteria is excluding some of the very people we want to help most- those who worked for US forces in order to try to build a better Iraq and are now living under death threats in their native country.

      As well as these folks

      Moreover, by excluding US green card holders (who are US nationals under law) the current order violates the Constitution and due process.
      Which is why it’s already been stayed.


  6. Scott Fisher

    Mr. Snyder is exactly right that the primary duty of the government of the United States is to protect our citizens. Despite the President’s many issues he does understand very well that ISIS is infiltrating the United States and Europe with jihadis posing as refugees. Generals Kelly and Mattis have advised him well on this unpleasant reality and the President has made the wise and appropriate decision to no longer allow people into our country from nations that promote jihadi activity. It’s also clear that people allowed into the United States from places like Iraq, Somalia etc over the last several years were not properly screened and evaluated. The reevaluation process of these folks has already started and is necessary. As we have no idea really who these people are or their true motivations, it would be irresponsible to allow any immigration into the United States from these countries. Remember that the San Bernardino murderers were a husband and wife team.

    • Ann Fontaine

      There is already an excellent vetting system in place. The President is just grandstanding and sharing his #alternativefacts
      From Politifact
      The system (which exists) and how it works

      The vetting begins with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee, which determines who counts as a refugee, who should be resettled (about 1 percent) and which countries would take them. This alone can take four to 10 months.

      If the UNHCR refers refugees to the United States, they then face scrutiny from federal intelligence and security agencies.

      Their names, biographical information and fingerprints are run through federal terrorism and criminal databases. Meanwhile, the refugees are interviewed by Department of Homeland Security officials. If approved, they then undergo a medical screening, a match with sponsor agencies, “cultural orientation” classes and one final security clearance.

      Syrian refugees in particular must clear one additional hurdle. Their documents are placed under extra scrutiny and cross-referenced with classified and unclassified information.

      The process typically takes one to two years or longer and happens before a refuge ever steps onto American soil. Ultimately, says the State Department, about half are approved, and there’s no real precedent of a terrorist slipping in through the vetting system.

      • Scott Fisher

        Well I guess Tashfeen Malik of San Bernardino fame just slipped thru after five different background checks. The whole vetting process is about to be radically altered with General Kelly now at Homeland Security and General Mattis at The Defense Dept.

      • Ann Fontaine

        Like Timothy McVeigh

      • Ann Fontaine

        They were Pakistani

      • Bill Louis

        I stopped reading your post at the mention of the UN. Having the UN vet anything is like having the fox look after the hen house. Politifact has been proven to Left biased, disproving the Right’s claims 3X more than the Lefts so one should be skeptical of anything they say. The INS has said they have little or no way to vet the refugees flowing into our country. Most have no documentation nor does the country they came from. Thats good enough for me! Let’s err to the safe side and hold off taking anymore refugees until we are sure of who they are before we suffer the fate of Sweden, Norway, France and Germany.

      • David Allen

        Politifact has been proven to Left biased, disproving the Right’s claims 3X more than the Lefts so one should be skeptical of anything they say.

        Mr Louis, that makes no sense and shows your own bias. Because there is no way the Right could be wrong three times more often than the Left, Politifact has to be biased. They just have to be!

      • Bill Louis

        David, I thought that’s what I said. Politifact is biased. That wasn’t my point. Any of these fact check sites will lean one way or the other to support whatever side they lean toward. My point was what they say about refugees being properly vetted is tripe. They are not being properly vetted if they are vetted at all.

      • David Allen

        Mr Louis, I was disagreeing with your opinion. I was using sarcasm to do so.

  7. Philip B. Spivey

    I do wish that some commentators would not objectify “refugees” and speak of “Muslims” and “terrorists” in the same breath. It dehumanizes each of these groups so that it is a short walk to conflating all three entities. We can’t act humanely if we have dehumanized people in crisis.

    Since when are refugees a dirty word when many of us can trace our ancestry to refugees from some God-forsaken environment.

    With the Trump administration, we will find that our most dangerous enemies are not outside. Authoritarian leaders invent straw men like ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and the ‘the murderous, great unwashed refugee horde’ to distract us from the regime’s mischief in the halls of power. In fact, these leaders go a step further: They work to destabilize geo-political regions in the Middle East that are most likely to retaliate against the United States. Hence, another war.

    God doesn’t care about geo-politics, but he does care about us and our relationships. I pray the global women’s marches launched last Saturday become a high water mark to which we ALL aspire. These marches represent our very better angels.

    • Scott Fisher

      Better angels? Perhaps you could explain to Madonna that thinking about committing arson doesn’t help the cause. And to the folks who want to continue killing children via abortion that they need to repent of that evil.

      • Philip B. Spivey

        If you think Madonna and physicians who perform legal abortions are objectionable human beings, just wait until to you see what crawls out of the wormwood in the next few years. Shock and awe.

  8. Jean Lall

    Thoroughly vetted people are now being stopped at the airports and refused admission to the U.S.

    The nightmare is upon us.

    • Philip B. Spivey

      So, it begins.

  9. Helen Kromm

    It’s very clear what is happening here. Trump’s authoritarian orders and mandates have nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with exciting his base.

    There is also a business aspect to this that you simply can’t credibly overlook or dismiss. Trump did not include a single country on the exemption list where he maintains or has a personal business interest.

    Clearly, barring residents of any nation from entering your own country would negatively affect your own business interests in that nation. So, Trump has exempted all countries where he has a business interest from his edict.

    So you are left with this curious contradiction. Saudi citizens have caused more American deaths due to acts of terrorism than any other country, as evidenced by 9/11. Iraq, whos’ Army is now fighting against terrorism shoulder to shoulder with thousands of Americans is on the list.

  10. Jay Croft

    “So, I propose a compromise. We let in all women, children under the age of 16, and men over the age of 50. The others we hold, in comfort, until they can be more thoroughly vetted for ties to terrorists organizations. While they are being vetted, and for a period after they come into the country, their electronic communication (phone, email, computer use, etc.) will be monitored to see if they are becoming or are communicating with terrorists.”

    Yeah, women cannot possibly be terrorists, nor men over 50, nor anyone below the age of 16.

    And who is going to “monitor their electronic communication?” Trump has frozen Federal hiring, so where would these monitors come from?

    • David Allen

      Homeland is preparing the files for the 10 immigrants that Phillip will be personally monitoring.

  11. The ones who need to be monitored are Trump and his billionaire buddies. By the time they’re done, we’ll all be as poor as the Syrians and they’ll be as rich as the Saudis. Oh yeah. And Comrade Putin.

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