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Religious Groups Cite Christian Values in Disapproving Trump Refugee, Immigration Ban

( [email protected] ) Jan 30, 2017 04:45 PM EST
Clergy were part of a religious outpouring against President Donald Trump's plan to suspend refugee entry from seven Muslim-majority countries. Faith leaders who support the president's executive order as a way to fight terrorism were less vocal this weekend.
Many religious- and faith-based organizations and communities say they do not agree with the current immigration policy change that does not allow refugees to seek safety and religious freedom in the United States. Reuters / Aaron Bernstein

Clergy were part of a religious outpouring against President Donald Trump's plan to suspend refugee entry from seven Muslim-majority countries. Faith leaders who support the president's executive order as a way to fight terrorism were less vocal this weekend.

"We know what it's like to be the stranger," said Joel Mosbacher, a Reform rabbi at Temple Shaary Tefila, noting that Jewish refugees were at times turned away from the U.S., reports Fox News.

Mosbacher was among a group of rabbis who met Sunday at New York's Kennedy Airport, playing guitar and conducting a Havdalah service to mark the end of the Sabbath. Nearly 2,000 people gathered to rally against the new immigration policy, reports Breitbart News.

"As a person of faith, it was so important to be there," said Mosbacher.

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who run the largest refugee resettlement network in the country, said they "strongly disagreed" with the prohibitions and pledged to work "vigorously to ensure refugees are humanely welcomed."

Representatives of Orthodox Union, the largest association for American Orthodox synagogues, acknowledged the complexities of fighting terror, but said "discrimination of any group solely upon religion is wrong and anathema to the great traditions of religious and personal freedoms upon which this country was founded."

Trump's executive order signed Friday gives preference to refugees fleeing their countries over religious persecution. The president told the Christian Broadcasting Network he aims to prioritize Christian refugees. See The Gospel Herald coverage:  Christian Refugees to be Given Priority into US by Trump, But He Also Froze Syrian Requests

Rev. Robert Jeffress, leader of First Baptist Dallas and a vocal supporter of Trump, told "Fox & Friends" television show that Trump was "fulfilling his God-given responsibility to protect this country." A few protesters gathered outside his church during services, with one carrying a sign that read, "Love Thy Neighbor."

Read Franklin Graham:  Trump's Immigration Ban Is Not Bible Matter in The Gospel Herald.

"We believe in security. We believe in careful vetting. We just don't think a full shutdown is the right reaction," said Scott Arbeiter, head of World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, which resettles large numbers of refugees. "These are people who are running from the very terror as a nation we're trying to stop."

A Mass near the White House organized in protest of Trump's immigration policy change drew hundreds of participants, who knelt as they received Holy Communion on Sunday evening, reports SF Gate.

At Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, a Marietta, Ga., evangelical church that resettles refugees, a pastor at an early morning service prayed that the congregation would "lift up the Syrian refugee families that we are sponsoring," noting they may never see some members of their family again. The pastor also asked God to grant "wisdom" to Trump.

Rev. Gary Manning, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, in Wauwatosa, Wis., said he started revising his sermon at 2:45 a.m. Sunday, anxious to strike the right tone for his politically mixed suburban Milwaukee parish. Worried his preaching would be "not fiery enough for some and not practical enough for others," he ended up speaking about mercy and reflecting on what can be done to help others.

Episcopal Bishop Sean Rowe, who leads the Dioceses of Erie and Northwestern Pennsylvania, said he has never seen such a strong, across-the-spectrum religious response to a social issue. His dioceses include programs to settle refugees, including a Syrian family that had been expecting a relative to come soon - a plan now on hold indefinitely.

Rowe said he planned meetings this week with his own clergy and leaders of other faiths on what they should do next to oppose Trump's policy.

"I find it outrageous at every level," Rowe said. "There's a real sense that the church cannot be silent about this."

 

 

Tags : faith leaders immigration ban, religion and immigration ban, religious persecution, Joel Mosbacher, Trump, Trump executive order, World Relief, humanitarian crisis, National Association of Evangelicals, Christian values, Christians and immigration, Franklin Graham, syrian refugees, White House Mass, Refugees Resettlement