Faith Leaders United: End Family Separations

As previously mentioned, the US Government is, at the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, implementing a plan first proposed in March 2017 by then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to separate families detained while illegally crossing our southern border.

Faith leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds have publicly spoken out against this immoral step. The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA, joined with the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop H. Kenneth Carter, president of the Council of Bishops for the United Methaodist Church, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, Mr. Azhar Azeez, president of the Islamic Society of North America, and numerous other religious leaders from diverse backgrounds, in condemning these actions. They write:

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.

Roman Catholic bishops also spoke out. The Most Rev. Joe Vasquez, bishop of Austin and chairman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, says:

Forcibly separating children from their mothers and fathers is ineffective to the goals of deterrence and safety and contrary to our Catholic values. Family unity is a cornerstone of our American immigration system and a foundational element of Catholic teaching. ‘Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.’ (Psalm 127:3) Children are not instruments of deterrence but a blessing from God.

President of the USCCB and archbishop of Houston, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, writes in affirmation of Bishop Vasquez’s statement:

Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.

Meanwhile, the Southern Baptist Convention, in session this week, passed a resolution on immigration that reads in part:

RESOLVED, That we desire to see immigration reform include an emphasis on securing our borders and providing a pathway to legal status with appropriate restitutionary measures, maintaining the priority of family unity, resulting in an efficient immigration system that honors the value and dignity of those seeking a better life for themselves and their families….

Franklin Graham, a frequent supporter of the Trump Administration, offered this rebuke of the family separation policy on the Christian Broadcasting Network:

I think it’s disgraceful, it’s terrible, to see families ripped apart, and I don’t support that one bit. And I blame the politicians for the last 20, 30 years that have allowed this to escalate to the point where it is today.

All of this is to say that the faith community is nearly unanimous in their condemnation of these actions.

It takes a lot to get the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Franklin Graham, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Islamic Society of North America, the ELCA, and the United Methodist Church to speak in unison on a social issue. There’s a lot that divides us.

But this evil is enough to unite our voices.

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