A breathtaking number of faith groups across denominations and traditions have condemned the Trump administration’s new decision to separate families at the border, along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ remarks about why this practice is biblical. From leaders like Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention and Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, even Franklin Graham, a longtime and vocal Trump supporter, to groups like the Sikh Coalition, the Jewish Orthodox Union, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Friends Committee have all made statements condemning the approach.
Here are a few statements from some of the organizations that have spoken out against the separation of families, and the policies pursued by the Trump administration:
This statement was signed by Bishop Michael Curry, Anwar Khan from Islamic Relief U.S.A., and Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller from the Monrovian Church.
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.
The separation of families illegally crossing the border is heartbreaking and tragic, part the larger tragedy of a broken immigration system that does not reflect our values or our faith. We urge Congress to act now to end the separation of children from parents at the border, reunite families legally entering the country, and secure the border. The Bible instructs God’s people to show compassion and love for the foreigner and the immigrant. Scripture combines this obligation to care for the alien with a corollary responsibility of the immigrant to obey the law and respect the customs of the nation in which he resides. How these principles apply to immigration reform is a matter of prudential judgment in enacting sound public policy.
The statement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Press Secretary Huckabee Sanders is a reminder of the recurring themes of the Trump Administration on African nations and immigrants to America. The Bible does not justify discrimination masked as racism, sexism, economic inequality, oppression or the abuse of children. Jesus, who was an immigrant who had to leave the place of his birth and immigrate to Egypt because of an oppressive leader and system, admonishes all that the poor, children, the elderly, widows, and widowers should have a special place of justice and compassion in every nation.
Whatever the legal status of those attempting to enter the US, separating children from their parents is a contravention of basic human rights. Parents seeking asylum make long, dangerous and arduous journeys in an attempt to find safety and well-being for their precious children. Ripping these vulnerable children from their parents is cruel, inhumane, and against the principles of compassion and mercy espoused by all religious traditions. From a Buddhist perspective, it is the close bond between parents and children that nurtures not only the physical well-being of children, but their psychological health and their moral formation.
What has this nation become? How have we wandered so far from Jesus’ kind admonition, “Let the little children come to me … for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs”? How can this be happening in a nation in which so many claim the traditions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam and the critical importance of families to the fabric of our lives together?
26 Jewish organizations including American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, and the Jewish Labor Committee:
On behalf of the 26 undersigned national Jewish organizations and institutions, we write to express our strong opposition to the recently expanded “zero-tolerance” policy that includes separating children from their migrant parents when they cross the border. This policy undermines the values of our nation and jeopardizes the safety and well-being of thousands of people. As Jews, we understand the plight of being an immigrant fleeing violence and oppression. We believe that the United States is a nation of immigrants and how we treat the stranger reflects on the moral values and ideals of this nation.
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