On the base of the Statue of Liberty are these words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
The recent executive order by President Trump to restrict entry by refugees from seven predominately Muslim countries is in direct conflict with the spirit of this message and the tenets of our faith.
America has long been a home for refugees and immigrants.
In the first five books of the Jewish and Christian scriptures the command to welcome the stranger is repeated 35 times, more than any other commandment.
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As people of faith, we strongly oppose the Trump administration’s decision to refuse asylum to people fleeing violence and persecution.
We also are concerned by misinformation about this order that attempts to connect it with conversations about undocumented immigrants.
It must be clearly stated: This order is not targeted at individuals who are seeking to enter this country without authorization or required documents.
The people being detained and turned away have valid U.S.-issued refugee travel documents.
They are being turned away not because they lack the proper documents but because the predominant religion of their nation is Muslim.
In the face of the largest refugee crisis since World War II, we, as a nation, must seek and find ways to respond that acknowledge and celebrate the humanity in all of God’s children.
We call on the administration to uphold our proud history of being a nation of immigrants by honoring our nation’s longstanding commitment to international humanitarian principles.
We call on the administration to apply the same standards to everyone seeking refuge from persecution and cease discriminating on the basis of religion or national origin.
Welcoming those fleeing oppression and violence does not make us more vulnerable to terror. Not one citizen of these seven nations has committed an act of terror in our country.
We call upon the administration to honor our nation’s tradition of welcoming those seeking light in the midst of a darkened world by rescinding this misguided order.
Erik K.J. Gronberg is bishop of the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
His co-authors are:
Brian Zimmerman, rabbi, Beth-El Congregation, Fort Worth
Rev. Dr. Tim Bruster, senior pastor, First United Methodist Church, Fort Worth
Rev. Karl Travis, pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Fort Worth
Rev. Dr. Nancy Ramsay, professor of pastoral theology and pastoral care, Brite Divinity School
Rev. Canon Janet Waggoner, canon to the ordinary, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
Rev. Dr. Melinda Veatch, executive director, Tarrant Churches Together
Rev. Kendra A. Mohn, lead pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Fort Worth
Rev. Craig Roshaven, Unitarian Universalist Church, Fort Worth
Rev. Carlye J. Hughes, rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Fort Worth
Rev. Fritz Ritsch, pastor, St. Stephen Presbyterian Church, Fort Worth
Rev. Dr. Katie Hays, Galileo Christian Church, Disciples of Christ
Rev. Tom Plumbley, senior minister, First Christian Church, Fort Worth
Rev. Charles Foster Johnson, pastor, Bread Fellowship of Fort Worth and executive director, Pastors for Texas Children
Jorene Taylor Swift, co-pastor, Bread Fellowship, Fort Worth
Rev. Dr. Warner M. Bailey, director of Presbyterian studies, Brite Divinity School
Rev. M. Gayland Poole, retired Episcopal priest, Diocese of Fort Worth
Rev. Jennifer Innis, consulting minister, First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church, Fort Worth
Rev. Megan Peglar, Trinity-Brazos Area Global Concerns Committee chair, Disciples of Christ
Rev. Kristin White Burrow, Disciples of Christ
Rev. Dr. Terry Boggs, chaplain, Cook Children's Medical Center
Rev. William T. Stanford, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
Rev. Shari Woodbury, minister, Westside Unitarian Universalist Church, Fort Worth