A massive, diverse coalition of faith groups and clergy are condemning President Donald Trump this week, saying his executive order barring entry to refugees and immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries represents an assault on religious freedom.
Trump signed the order on Friday, making good on a tweaked version of his promise to ban Muslims from entering the country. Although he initially proposed a “complete and total shut down” of all Muslim immigration, the final order suspends any immigration for at least 90 days to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen—all Muslim-majority nations. It also reportedly bars all refugees for at least 120 days, and Syrian refugees until further notice.
Trump administration officials insisted the ban isn’t solely targeted at Islam, but Muslim Americans disagree. Leaders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights group, held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to denounce the move.
“Muslims, we believe, are the sole targets of these orders,” said Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of CAIR. “This ban does not make our country safer. Instead, it serves to stigmatize Muslim refugees and the entire American Muslim community. It will hand a propaganda tool to our enemies who propagate the false notion of an American war on Islam.”
“This ban does not make our country safer. Instead, it serves to stigmatize Muslim refugees and the entire American Muslim community. It will hand a propaganda tool to our enemies who propagate the false notion of an American war on Islam.”
Nihad also said the orders will likely only worsen the current spike and anti-Islam hate incidents nationwide.
But CAIR wasn’t alone in its outrage. Awad was also flanked by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders, including Rev. Steve Martin, communications director for the National Council of Christians—one of the largest coalitions of Christian churches in the country.
“I’ve been away of the rising tide of Islamophobia for a number of years,” he said, his voice rising. “I can’t even believe that things are getting as bad as they are—that state sponsored persecution of a class of people is happening.”
“We explicitly condemn any religious test for refugees,” he added.
Martin is backed by a broad swath of faith voices from a number of different religions who spoke out against Trump’s orders this week. The Interfaith Immigration Coalition quickly re-opened a 2016 petition in opposition to the “Muslim ban” signed by hundreds of faith leaders, and clergy were already gathering in downtown Washington, D.C. to voice their concerns about the order Wednesday afternoon.
“People of faith, this is the moment we are called to,” Sister Simone Campbell, head of Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK, told the crowd. “This is our time to stand up for those who are struggling.”
Religious support for refugees, Muslim or otherwise, is rooted in theology and lived experience: Refugee resettlement organizations are often faith-based, such as Catholic Charities, Church World Service, and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
Below is a list of faith groups and leaders condemning the order. Quotes without links are pulled from a Church World Service document here, and we will update our own list throughout at the day as we find more.
Alliance of Baptists
Rev. Paula Clayton Dempsey, the director of partnership relations for the Alliance of Baptists:
The plight of the displaced is well-documented with the influx of refugees evident along borders, or in small, vulnerable boats dangerously crossing the Mediterranean Sea, or in the overflowing camps in host countries providing emergency relief. More than fifty percent of the refugees are children, many of them orphaned and/or dealing with the loss of family members through the nightmares of trauma and violence they’ve experienced. The Alliance of Baptists joins the international call for justice and mercy for such vulnerable people. Our faithful actions of advocacy for the rights of refugees is rooted in our concern for all human beings and the protection of the resident alien in biblical justice and Jesus’ call of righteous acts of compassion to those in need.
American Jewish World Service
The American Jewish World Service tweeted its disagreement:
Rev. Paul Raushenbush, the senior vice president at Auburn, issued a staunch rebuke of several of Trump’s actions that reads in part:
Putting a religious litmus test on the immigration is a clear sign of discrimination and has unfortunate echoes of fears that guided past discrimination against other religious communities such Catholics, and, disastrously, Jews in the years before Nazi Germany. Determining immigration based on religion is un-American. Period. It is not what the original founders of our nation intended and it runs counter to the vision of an inclusive and vibrant America.
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
Amanda Tyler, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty:
Any attempt to ban Muslim refugees based on their religion betrays our values and sends the un-American message that there are second-class faiths. Our country, founded by immigrants who established religious freedom as a bedrock principle, is better than this. A threat to anyone’s religious liberty is a threat to everyone’s religious liberty, and we as Baptists stand with those facing religious persecution around the world, regardless of their faith.
Bend the Arc
Stosh Cotler, the CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, a Jewish social justice group, released a statement that reads in part:
Making decisions on who is welcome in our country based solely on their religion or national origin is fundamentally un-American. As Jews, we know what it’s like to be scapegoated and we will not be silent now.
Catholic Relief Services
CRS president & CEO released a statement on Thursday.
Our elected officials have an obligation to protect the security of the American people, and we should all take concerns about security seriously. But, denying entry to people desperate enough to leave their homes, cross oceans in tiny boats, and abandon all their worldly possessions just to find safety will not make our nation safer. The United States is already using a thorough vetting process for refugees — especially for those from Syria and surrounding countries. CRS welcomes measures that will make our country safer, but it shouldn’t jeopardize the safety of those fleeing violence; should not add appreciable delay nor entail unjust discrimination.
As Pope Francis has said: “Fear…weakens and destabilizes us, destroys our psychological and spiritual defenses, numbs us to the suffering of others.” We have a moral obligation to ’welcome the stranger’. Our faith compels us to do so.
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, the general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ):
We are guided by our faith in the commandments to love God and love our neighbors, whoever they may be. We cannot separate the two, and seek to be welcoming of all people because loving God means loving our fellow human being. We pray that our country reflects principles of both welcome and of religious freedom, and that we remember the value of diversity. As refugees flee conflict, may we seek to offer them compassion, and not turn them away for any reason, including their religious identity.
Church of the Brethren
When contacted by the Huffington Post, Jay Wittmeyer—executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service—did not specifically name Trump’s order, but reiterated his denomination’s support for refugees.
We are the church, we’ll continue to be the church, and we will welcome refugees in need from all religious backgrounds. This is in keeping with our Christian faith.
Ministry with refugees has been a priority for the Church of the Brethren, and aid for refugees has been a priority for giving by our church members. We aid refugees through grants to organizations like Church World Service and ACT Alliance. Our grants have helped support aid work in some of the hot spots of the worldwide crisis of human displacement in recent years, for example Lebanon where many thousands of Syrian refugees are sheltering. In Nigeria we are working with the Church of the Brethren there in a special response effort to aid people displaced by the violent Boko Haram insurgency. Here in the United States, several Church of the Brethren congregations are working to host refugees.
Beginning 100 years ago with the Armenian genocide, this has been a vital part of our church’s witness.
Church World Service
Rev. John L. McCullough, the president and CEO of Church World Service:
Church World Service is staunchly opposed and gravely disheartened by this callous, discriminatory decision, which turns our backs on refugees when they are most in need of safety. Make no mistake — by restricting access to resettlement for Syrians, President Trump is manifesting the “Muslim ban” that he threatened on the campaign trail. My heart is heavy for Syrian refugees who believed our promise to them; for their family members who are here and desperately waiting to be reunited with their sister, brother, parent or child; and for the very soul of this nation.
Christian Reformed Church in North America
Peter Vnder Muelen, the coordinator of the Office of Social Justice for the Christian Reformed Church in North America:
My Christian denomination has proudly welcomed refugees for as long as I can remember — it’s part of what makes us who we are. In the wake of the largest refugee crisis in modern history, we cannot refuse certain nationalities or religious groups, or reduce the numbers of people we welcome. These policies will be a devastating blow to the infrastructure of our crucial resettlement programs, and it’s also just morally wrong. I hope the faith community speaks — loudly — against these policies which so directly works against what has long been our calling.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The LDS Church did not release a new statement about the orders, but the church’s communications representative referred ThinkProgress to a rare public statement they published in December 2015. The statement was published within hours of Trump first proposing the Muslim ban.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns. However, it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom,” the statement reads. It moves on to cite a quote from Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, defending religious liberty and lifting up religious pluralism as a value.
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Scott Wright, the director of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, a Catholic group:
Welcoming refugees and immigrants is at the heart of our faith traditions. We must never forget that we are a nation of refugees and immigrants. Now more than ever, we must not close our doors to Syrian refugees and all those who flee persecution and violence, and stand in solidarity with them.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal Church, noted that the National Cathedral (an Episcopal Church) recently hosted President Trump, and implored him to keep the refugee program intact.
Refugee resettlement is a form of ministry, and one that we, and many other churches and faith-based organizations, cherish. 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. 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.
Our Book of Common Prayer asks for God to “look with compassion on the whole human family;” to “break down the walls that separate us and unite us in bonds of love.” On Saturday, we prayed for God our Father to look with compassion upon the widowed and orphans, outcasts and refugees, prisoners, and all who are in danger. We pray to love one another as God loves us. I echo that prayer now and ask that we may work together to build a more grace and compassion-filled world.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Elizabeth Eaton, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
Temporarily banning vulnerable refugees does not guarantee our security nor reflect our values as Christians. Refugees being resettled in the United States have fled persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political views or association with a particular group. They have waited well over a year to successfully complete security screenings by multiple intelligence agencies while living in a completely foreign culture, many times, still facing danger. As Lutherans, many of our ancestors faced the pain of having to flee our homes and the joy of being welcomed in new communities across the United States. As we have done throughout history, I urge our elected officials to honor our biblical witness as well as the best of our nation’s traditions of refuge and stand firmly against any policies that result in scaling back the refugee resettlement program.
Faith in Public Life
Rev Jennifer Butler, the CEO of Faith in Public Life, a progressive faith-rooted advocacy organization:
As a community of faith, we must fiercely condemn Mr. Trump’s vicious and unprincipled attack on Muslims. Welcoming immigrants and refugees who come to America to make a better and safer life for their families is a defining feature of our nation’s past, present and future. As a Presbyterian pastor speaking to a Presbyterian president, I urge Mr. Trump to not allow unchaste discrimination to be the hallmark policy of his burgeoning administration.
Franciscan Action Network
The Catholic group, which is also committed to opposing any version of a Muslim registry, issued a statement that reads in part:
We stand with our refugee brothers and sisters and all those who are seeking protection. Providing protection to people seeking safety is one of our nation’s proudest and longest standing traditions which we are morally obligated to uphold. This action goes back on America’s promise to refugees and abdicates America’s leadership role on human rights.
“The Gospels call us to welcome the stranger, so as people of faith, we advocate and support the rights and dignity of all people, especially immigrants and refugees. The United States was built by immigrants and we must continue to protect our immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers and keep families together.” said Patrick Carolan, Executive Director Franciscan Action Network.
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, the vice president for community engagement at HIAS, the oldest international migration and refugee resettlement agency in the United States:
Jewish tradition teacher that every person is created in the image of God, and that we should welcome the stranger with respect and compassion. The outpouring of support from more than 1,700 rabbis, working alongside other faith and non-sectarian partners to stand up for refugees, comes at a critical moment. Compelled by our community’s own history as a refugee people, rabbis from across the country are raising their voices in support of the U.S. legacy of welcome.
HIAS also published a letter signed by more than 1,500 rabbis in support of protecting refugees.
Rabbi Jack Moline, the president of Interfaith Alliance:
Our country has always welcomed those fleeing persecution and violence; it is, in fact, the story of how we came to be. We must stand up to those peddling xenophobia. We must choose wisdom over hateful rhetoric. Our elected leaders must live up to the mandate inherited from our ancestors, starting with President Washington who celebrated that our United States offered “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.
Islamic Society of North America
The society released the following statement:
On Friday, January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order which limits entry of non US Citizens to the United States from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days. The order also suspends entry of refugees from any country for at least 120 days and entry of refugees from Syria indefinitely.
ISNA is deeply troubled by the closing of the border, particularly to the most vulnerable. We are stronger as a nation when we are united, however this Executive Order threatens to further divide the nation. We encourage all our members to contact their House and Senate representatives to express their concern about this Executive Order.
In addition, Muslim immigrants should seek legal advice in making their travel plans. There are timely and invaluable resources available from organizations such as American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), American Civil Liberties Union, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Muslim Advocates.
While we are going through trying times, we remind the community to not lose hope and remember that Allah is sufficient for us and He is the best disposer of affairs. May Allah protect us and provide us with clarity and guidance.
LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints) Democrats:
LDS Dems released a statement condemning the ban shortly after it was signed, calling it a “threat to religious freedom.”
We call on all Americans to defend the religious freedom of Muslim refugees. We value families. We value refugees. We value our Muslim brothers and sisters. We value those of all faiths and no faiths. Those who prey on fear are powerless in the face of love: we encourage our friends of all religions and no religions to join us in speaking up for refugees and against this persecution. This ban is reminiscent of the Mormon immigration ban issues in 1879 by U.S. Secretary of State William M. Everts. It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Linda Hartke, the president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, released this statement:
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.
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.
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Gerry Lee, the director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, a Catholic organization:
“We cannot let fear blind us to the despair of migrants and refugees, including refugees from Syria and from different faith traditions. Pope Francis proclaimed that “refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women, and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes…the flesh of Christ is in the flesh of the refugees.” The faithful response is not to build a wall or to discriminate against Muslims, but to open our hearts and our homes to refugees of all faiths in recognition of our sacred call to protect and nourish life. If we refuse to welcome refugees in urgent need, we risk becoming like those we claim to deplore.”
Muslim Public Affairs Council
The Muslim Public Affairs Council released a statement that reads in part:
Let’s be clear: the suspension of the refugee resettlement program and the banning of immigration from Muslim-majority countries are all designed to criminalize an entire group of people based on their religion and nationality, and it does not make us any more secure as a nation.
…A secure America is one that stands by its Constitution, and real patriotism is the belief in American ideals enough to uphold
them. As Americans, we do not ban, register, or deport people based on the how they pray or the color of their skin. As Americans, we do not turn away men, women and children who are seeking refuge and are escaping persecution, violence and war. As Americans,
we know very well that an attack on one religious minority is an attack on us all. THIS is what makes America great.”
National Association of Evangelicals
Leith Anderson, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, released a statement that reads in part:
Christians and churches have been welcoming refugees for 2,000 years, and evangelicals are committed to continue this biblical mission. Thousands of U.S. evangelicals and their churches have welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees over the past 40 years through World Relief and other federally approved resettlement agencies. We don’t want to stop now.
National Council of Churches
Jim Winkler, the president and General Secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA:
By effectively preventing the entrance of refugees into this country, President Trump is establishing a policy would have kept Joseph, Mary, and Jesus from entering our nation. We ask President Trump to repent and show kindness to the stranger and the refugee that is central to Christian and American values.
National Council of Jewish Women
Nancy K. Kaufman, the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women:
NCJW opposes any actions to reduce refugee resettlement, including measures that would discriminate based on religion or nation of origin. As Jews we are taught va’ahavtem et ha-ger — as we were once strangers, so must we love the stranger. We must rise above prejudice and fear to open our communities to the individuals and families who seek sanctuary in the United States.
NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby
Sister Simone Campbell, a Catholic nun and the executive director of NETWORK Lobby:
Catholic teaching is very clear: we are called to welcome the stranger. President Trump’s actions today are antithetical to our faith. As Pope Francis said when he addressed Congress, “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.” The Catholic Sisters and community of NETWORK Lobby will continue to do all they can to welcome refugees and immigrants in accordance with this core faith belief.
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
Rev. Dr. Richard Cizik, the president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good:
Let me clearly state what should be obvious: American political history, the moral principles of Christian faith, and the enormous contributions made by immigrants to America combine to make refugee admissions — even from war-torn Syria — a good and compassionate thing to do. However, to expand the boundaries of our inclusion will require a greater degree of political vision, compassion, and bold determination. We who are the “new evangelicals” will oppose violations of these principles by President Trump with equal determination.
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
Presbyterians, professing a faith in Jesus who entered this world a refugee, have supported refugee resettlement since World War II. Many of our congregations are led by and comprised of former refugees and many more have been transformed by the new friends they have encountered when assisting in resettlement. We are in the midst of a worldwide refugee crisis. Repressing mercy and compassion, in times like these, with groundless limits placed on the faith and nationality of those we should welcome, will not make our nation safer. It will only serve to harm hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting desperately for a safe home and will drive rifts between us and our global neighbors. Our nation is better than this and our congregations stand ready to welcome refugees of all faiths and nations.
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:
The expected executive order defies the best American tradition of being a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution. As Jews, we recognize the danger in any action that singles out people based on their religious beliefs. If the order is issued as anticipated, it is deeply troubling, rooted in exclusion and discrimination, and echoes the most shameful parts of our history.
Facing the largest refugee crisis in recent history, the United States must remain a beacon of safe haven and welcome. Jewish tradition teaches “and each shall sit under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:4). Ensuring our security and fulfilling our highest aspirations as a nation rooted in compassion and committed to religious freedom are not mutually exclusive. Policies such as those promulgated by President Trump in this expected executive order unjustly and falsely create the impression that all Muslims pose a security threat. Attacks on one faith are attacks on all faiths, and we stand with our Muslim friends and allies in rejecting such egregious suggestions.
We call on President Trump to refrain from issuing this executive order, on Congress to ensure robust refugee resettlement, and call on all Americans to protect the fundamental principle of religious freedom upon which our country was founded.
Jim Wallis, the president and founder of the Christian social justice advocacy organization Sojourners, sent the following statement to ThinkProgress:
U.S. citizens, immigrants and refugees who practice their Islamic faith in this country — our friends and neighbors — are our brothers and sisters as fellow human beings and children of God. We will never accept a religious test for entry into the United States. As Jesus taught us in Matthew 25, our Christian faith should compel us to act — to advocate for welcoming refugees of all faiths into our country instead of turning them away. Religious tests, in addition to being morally repugnant, would threaten our nation’s democratic principles and the constitutional rights of every American. The violation of the religious freedom of our Muslim brothers and sisters must be not be accepted by any people of faith.
Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign
Catherine Orsborn, the campaign director of Shoulder to Shoulder:
In my own upbringing in an evangelical Christian community, I learned early on that loving my neighbor (as well as my enemy), and seeking to come alongside “the least of these” were core to what it meant to live out the message of Jesus in the world. I am also a student of the history of religious and racial prejudice in our nation, and I am convinced that right now, the patriotic and Christian response is to stand alongside refugees fleeing unimaginable conditions to find safety, rest, and opportunity on these shores. To ban any person based on their religious identity flies in the face of America’s promise of religious and racial equality. Not only is it immoral to take this route, but it does nothing to make us more safe. People of faith and moral conviction should take every step to oppose this action.
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights:
The Torah teaches thirty-six times that the Jewish experience of being strangers in Egypt and fleeing to freedom compels us to care for the stranger in our own midst. The Jewish community knows too well the dangers facing refugees fleeing war and violence, as too many of our own families died because the US borders were virtually closed to Jewish refugees during the Nazi regime. T’ruah joins with the more than 1500 rabbis who have signed the HIAS rabbinic letter welcoming refugees in calling on our elected officials to keep America’s doors open and to maintain our historic and moral commitment to serving as a lifeline to those fleeing persecution and violence.
Unitarian Universalist Association
A joint statement from Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association and Hon. Thomas Andrews, president and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee:
In the face of looming threats to immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and the LGBTQ community and the rise of hate speech, harassment and hate crimes, we affirm our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We will oppose any and all unjust government actions to deport, register, discriminate, or despoil. As people of conscience, we declare our commitment to translate our values into action as we stand on the side of love with the most vulnerable among us.
United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, the general minister and president of the United Church of Christ:
Many of our congregations in the United Church of Christ are involved in welcoming refugees and aiding in the resettlement and integration process. It is part of our faith tradition and a moral imperative to serve those who have faced life threatening, trauma, and extreme injustice. We cannot condone excluding people based on their nationality or religious background, but instead must work towards inclusivity and justice for all, no matter where they are on life’s journey. The UCC will continue to be in solidarity with refugees as we advocate for policies that welcome all people.
United Methodist Church (General Board of Church and Society)
Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, the general secretary of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church:
As followers of Jesus, we reject in the strongest terms efforts to halt refugee resettlement or impose a religious test for those facing forced migration. United Methodists around the world are loving their neighbors by welcoming refugees into their congregations and communities. We pray and ask that our political leaders and policy makers follow their lead and compassionately welcome those in need.
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration
The USCCB waited until after the statement was signed to release their statement condemning the order.
We strongly disagree with the Executive Order’s halting refugee admissions. We believe that now more than ever, welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope. We will continue to engage the new administration, as we have all administrations for the duration of the current refugee program, now almost forty years. We will work vigorously to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed in collaboration with Catholic Charities without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans, and to ensure that families may be reunified with their loved ones.
World Relief is a large evangelical Christian humanitarian organization, and one of the few organizations tasked by the government to resettle refugees. It’s president, Scott Arbeiter, spoke out against the refugee ban in an interview with The Blaze.
“We disagree [with] the notion that security and compassion are mutually exclusive and that the only way to address security is to completely close down the program for four months,” Arbeiter told the Blaze.
Matthew Soerens, World Relief’s director of church mobilization, also tweeted that the organization remains committed to aiding refugees.
Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research
Imam Omar Suleiman, the president of Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research:
Refugees have had to fight multiple battles in these last few years. While trying to survive the harshest of conditions, they’ve had to convince the world that they too are human and worthy of basic dignity. Our anger should not be directed at the refugees, but those who have made them refugees.
Individual faith leaders
Rev. William Barber
This ban on travelers, even children, from Muslim-majority and Middle Eastern nations, these threats against Mexicans and others who try to enter our country at our southern border, are the first steps in a Trump-era agenda that criminalizes faith, nationality, and people of color, and it flies in the face of the American and moral values we hold dear.
These acts smell of racism and reek of xenophobia. These acts are an antithesis the moral values which declares, “Mark 12:30–31New International Version (NIV) 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.” They will make us less safe, and weaken our democracy.
We do not — we will not — ban, register, or deport people based on their religion, their country of origin, or their skin color — not Muslims, not Mexicans, not Syrians — not anyone.
Fr. James Martin, SJ
Martin, a Jesuit priest, released a video statement on Facebook condemning both the refugee orders and Trump’s order to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border:
These measures, which mean the rejection of the stranger, the rejection of the person in need, the rejection of those who suffer, are manifestly unchristian and utterly contrary to the Gospel. Indeed, last year, Pope Francis said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the Gospel.”
But maybe you don’t want to listen to Pope Francis. Maybe you think that he was being too political. Or maybe you think Pope Francis is too progressive for you.
Maybe you think that you have a right to refuse a person in need. And that you have the right to protect yourself. Well, we do have the right of self-protection. But refusing the one in need because you want to protect yourself, especially when the other is in desperate need and obvious danger, is not what Christianity is about. It’s about the opposite. It’s about helping the stranger, even if it carries some risk. That’s the Parable of the Good Samaritan in a nutshell.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
Carcaño is a United Methodist Church minister:
“Religious faith should never be an obstacle to whether we extend a hand of welcome to the refugee or the immigrant. To close the door to those who are Muslim or of other living faiths, is not a faithful expression of Christian faith or of the principal, that all are created equal, that the U.S. was formed upon. The direction the Trump administration would take us in, is but a veiled attempt to exclude receiving refugees who are not Christians, but whose lives are just as worthy. Such a direction only weakens what has made our country strong — a commitment to stand with the vulnerable, the oppressed, the suffering, regardless of their religious faith.”
Imam John Ederer
Ederer is head of the Islamic Society of Tulsa:
The Islamic Society of Tulsa has already been working with our partners from Catholic Charities and are currently caring for many refugee families. It is the responsibility of the faith community to come together to spread compassion for the less fortunate. These people have been put through unspeakable hardships and it would be absolutely unequivocally wrong to shun them assuming they could be terrorists after the Norma interview and vetting process.
Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk
Nosanchuk is the senior rabbi at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, Ohio:
When I have met refugees arriving in Ohio, I see in them memories of my own ancestors seeking safety, hope, and protection. I refuse to respond to refugees arriving in the U.S. with suspicion and enmity. We must combat the view that refugees are to be feared.
Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair at Wheaton College, an evangelical school, and is a prominent leader in evangelical Christianity.
He published an op-ed in the Washington Post on Thursday opposing Trump’s proposed ban. An excerpt:
As an American citizen, I cannot change this Executive Order. But as a Christian and kingdom citizen, I cannot cheer for it, and I cannot stay silent. It is time to pray for those who are hurting, and to plead with our leaders to change course.
We are not Europe and refugees can’t walk here. We have a well-run and safe refugee resettlement program with a long history of religious group involvement. And as an evangelical and a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals, I am thankful for its statement supporting refugee resettlement. But, I will add that I am deeply disappointed to see this safe program maligned and discounted by others who use alternative facts to say that it is dangerous in ways it is not.
As Americans who are also Christian, we often cry out, “God bless the United States!” Fear cannot lead us to the point where our only cry left is, “May God have mercy on our souls!”
This is a safe program and one that evangelicals like me say, even if Trump will not, “Give [us] your … huddled masses, yearning to be free.”
Alternative facts must not lead us to bad choices that hurt the most vulnerable — that’s not the way of Jesus and not in line with actual facts.
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky
Visotzky is the Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at Jewish Theological Seminary:
The Torah, a pillar of Judeo-Christian thinking and a fundamental document for the Abrahamic religions, thoroughly informed the ethos of our Founding Fathers and the “city on a hill” we call America. Throughout the Torah God repeatedly exhorts us to “be kind to the stranger,” to have “one law for yourself and for the stranger who dwells among you,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” We have always been a country that welcomes the refugee, and are proud to be a nation of immigrants. The Statue of Liberty reminds us “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. “ We must continue to “lift our lamp” of welcome “beside the golden door.” To do otherwise is to lose the very soul of our great nation.
Sr. Madeleine Munday
Munday is a Catholic nun and the provincial of the Province of Mid-North America, Sisters of the Good Shepherd:
Refugees fleeing for their lives should not be denied entry into our country because of their religious beliefs. Such a policy is contrary to our most cherished beliefs as Christians and as a nation.
Rev. Greg Allan-Pickett
Pickett is the director of global mission at the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta:
The call for hospitality towards the immigrant, refugee and stranger does not come simply from one or two verses in the Bible; it really does represent the entire narrative arc of Scripture. God frequently shows hospitality and compassion to the alien, foreigner, immigrant, sojourner, stranger and refugee — and God repeatedly requires the same of God’s followers, of us. There may be security challenges, logistical challenges, and financial challenges related to refugee resettlement. But as communities of faith, we are called to work together to overcome those challenges and practice radical hospitality towards refugees, immigrants and strangers. There is no escaping our collective call towards this vital ministry of love. Refugee resettlement has transformed my congregation. By opening our doors and our hearts to people who have been displaced due to violent wars and conflicts, we are sharing the love and light of Christ in profound ways. While initially there was fear, that has been replaced by love and joy when we meet the families and walk with them in the resettlement process. Don’t deny this opportunity to the thousands of churches and millions of Christians around the United States who receive many blessings through this ministry of hospitality and love. While we understand the fear that some feel towards refugees fleeing Islamist militants, we must work to overcome that fear and live into our calling to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6) and seek to take care of the stranger, foreigner, refugee and immigrant, the “least of these” remembering that whatever we do for them, we do for Jesus himself. (Matthew 25) Our faith requires us to do so. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18) There is a word in the Old Testament that captures the essence of the refugee experience. The word occurs more than 90 times. In Hebrew, it is just two letters and some vowel marks: גּרֵ and is pronounced “ger.” It can be translated as alien, foreigner, immigrant, sojourner, stranger or refugee. Almost every time it is used, it is either God saying that this is a special population of people that God will take care of, or God is calling God’s followers to take care of this special population of people. God demands of God’s followers a generous hospitality towards the ger saying, “You shall love them as you love yourself” and insisting they be treated equally and with hospitality, compassion and justice. (See Genesis 15, Exodus 22 and 23, Leviticus 19 and 23, Numbers 15, Deuteronomy 10 and 24 and 27, Joshua 8, Job 31, Psalm 146, Isaiah 14, Jeremiah 7 and 22, Ezekiel 22, Zechariah 7, Malachi 3 and so many others!) This is just the Old Testament witness towards the ger. The New Testament has a number of Greek words that share a similar meaning and are often repeated, many times by Jesus himself, as he inspires his followers to care for “the least of these.”
Rt. Reverend Rob Wright D.D.
Wright is the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta:
To welcome the immigrant and refugee with compassion is to be an American guided by the words the Statue of Liberty has inscribed on her base. To welcome the immigrant and refugee with compassion is among the highest expressions of faithfulness there is according to Jesus. Remember Jesus and his family were immigrants and refugees too.
Rev. Dr. James Rissler
Rissler is the pastor of the Atlanta Mennonite Fellowship:
No one leaves home and family for the unknown, often at great risk, lightly. Refugees flee violence and oppression that most of us can’t even imagine. I hope that the wealth of our nation can be matched by a generosity of heart that has characterized the best of who we are as Americans. I hope that we will expand our embrace of those seeking safety and opportunity among us, not close ourselves off out of fear to refugees seeking new life among us.
Rev. Kent French
French is the senior pastor of The United Parish in Brookline, Massachusetts:
Throughout our scriptures, we read about God’s people welcoming the stranger (Genesis 18), and that sometimes when we do so, we are entertaining angels without even knowing it (Hebrews 13:1–2).Just a few weeks ago, we reminded ourselves that Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus were refugees in their flight to Egypt (Matthew 2:13–23) and remember that the people of Israel were refugees again and again throughout their exiles. As people of faith, we are called to welcome all, to show hospitality, to offer refuge and to seek and nurture our common humanity as beloved children of God.
Rev. Rob Mark
Mark is the pastor of Church of the Covenant in Boston, Massachusetts:
As a follower of Jesus, and a minister of the gospel of love, ever fiber in my being is called to love my neighbor and the stranger in my midst- as myself. Therefore any policy or rhetoric of “othering” is deeply against my religion and I will stand boldly against it at every turn. I and my entire congregation in the heart of downtown Boston are firmly against any policy coming from our new presidential administration or congress that halts, suspends or caps Muslim/ Arab immigration. We will also stand firmly in opposition to any such hateful policies.
Rabbi Eliana Jacobowitz
Jacobowitz is the rabbi of Temple B’nai Brith of Somerville, Massachusetts:
The Torah teaches us to not stand idly by when another is being oppressed. We are commended to help the needy and to welcome the stranger. In the face of the tragedy of millions of Syrian refugees there can be only one response. Open our borders and let them in. Let them find safety. Let them find peace. Let them find a home with us in the United States.
Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird
Wiest-Laird is the pastor of First Baptist, Louisville, Kentucky:
As people who follow Jesus we are clearly instructed that what we do to “the least of these” we do to him. Jesus’ solidarity with the marginalized demands that we too speak up for those who are being oppressed. To deny refugees, or anyone, welcome to this land because of their religion is not only un-American, it is antithetical to the Christian faith.
Rev. Amy McCreath
McCreath is the rector at the Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopal), in Watertown, Massachusetts:
As a person of faith and an ordained Christian minister, I oppose all policies to halt Muslim or Arab immigration or to cap immigration artificially. There is nothing in the scriptures upon which my faith rests to support such policies and they are in direct conflict with the example of Jesus and the call of the gospel. My position is in keeping with the long record of support for open immigration of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and several recent public statements from our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry. In my ministry, I have come to know many Muslim families in Watertown and Belmont, all of whom are models to me of positive civic involvement and all of whom are praying for loved ones who are living with the ravages of war back home or living as refugees. We pray each week in my church for specific people from Syria and Iran, by name, for whom coming to a new home in this nation is the only hope. These people have patiently waited for the U.S. immigration system to move them up the list. A change in policy now would be devastating. As the second-largest community of Armenians in the U.S., Watertown is a place that has been built by refugee families. This Armenian community is clear about its call to welcome those who have lost everything because of oppression and prejudice and invite them to use their gifts and skills to build a new life and contribute to the common welfare here. Halting Muslim or Arab immigration would be an abrogation of our commitment to human rights. We would be rescinding all claims to be a moral leader in the global community.
Reverend Matthew R. Rasure
Rasure is the minister at the The First Baptist Church of Medford, Massachusetts:
In Matthew 25, Jesus said that whatever we do for the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and the hopeless, we do for HIM. Events across the world have bought him to us once again. Issa, “Hay-zoos”, Yezu, and Jesus by many other names all stand at our gate crying for justice and compassion. The true Church will never turn them away. We will welcome them when we have little more than our own bread, water, and clothing to share. We will welcome them when it is inconvenient for us. And we will welcome them in defiance of any government and authority that would create policies in defiance of God’s higher call to compassion.
Rabbi Dani Passow
Passow is an Orthodox rabbi of Harvard Hillel and a chaplain at Harvard University:
The Jewish people were born as a nation of refugees, feeling the tyranny of slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago. The Torah, our holiest text, calls upon us, time after time, to remember our suffering in Egypt, to learn from that experience, and to treat foreigners in our midst with deep compassion. In modern history, we lived in perpetual exile from our homeland, and, as refugees, were persecuted throughout the world. America has served as a refuge from that persecution, for us and for countless others. This is our great value, and we must continue to be a sanctuary for those who are persecuted today, regardless their religion or country of origin.
Rabbi Howard Berman and Rabbi Devon A. Lerner
Both are rabbis at Central Reform Temple:
The Torah teaches us “You shall not wrong or oppress the stranger (foreigner), for your were once strangers in the land of Egypt.” Throughout history we have experienced the dehumanization of discrimination. We strongly oppose any laws that would indiscriminately ban all Muslim immigration to this country.
Rabbi Reb Moshe
Moshe is the senior rabbi of Temple Beth Zion:
Immigrants have been the lifeblood of our country. The closing of the gates to immigrants in 1924 precluded the continued influx of Jews and others from Eastern Europe. The doors closing on immigration to the United States spread throughout the world and when Hitler observed that no one “wanted” the Jews in 1938 his plans for their annihilation were aided and abetted.
When doors are closed to people who lives are endangered we violate the basic values of our traditions. We all identify with the story of the Israelites in Egypt. Our traditions of hospitality and openness to strangers are always based on the facts that “we were once slaves in Egypt”. That is why the 5 Books of Moses has over 30 demands that we love the stranger.
Rev. Dr. James Moos
Moos is the executive minister for Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ:
We stand firm in our call for an extravagant welcome for refugees, without discrimination as to place of origin or religion. Anything less is a denial of justice and a subversion of America’s highest ideals.
Imam Adeel Zeb
Zeb is the Muslim chaplain of the Claremont Colleges:
The Prophet Muhammad taught that none of you truly believes until you love for your brothers and sisters what you love for yourself. How would we feel if ourselves or our families were suffering and needed refugee in America? I am vehemently opposed to the Trump administration’s banning of immigrants and Muslims, this country was built upon and became golden through the tireless contribution of immigrants and we wouldn’t be the same without all of America’s family.
Rector Holly Lyman Antolini
Antolini is the rector of St. James’s Episcopal Church:
At St. James’s Episcopal Church in Porter Square Cambridge, our Anti-Oppression Team has begun immigrant rights training in preparation to support our sister congregations offering sanctuary to immigrants afraid of deportation. Here’s why, in a nutshell: When we are baptized into Christ, we vow to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves’ and to ‘strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being. No exceptions. Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 25 that whatever we do to the most vulnerable members of God’s human family — the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the imprisoned — we do it to Jesus himself. This is why I am strongly opposed to any policies that halt Muslim or Arab immigration or cap immigration artificially. My Christian faith connects with my convictions about the nature of American democracy on this point: that we are indeed a nation made strong by its hospitality to immigrants over centuries and we will be weakened by any such policies, which undermine both our democratic confidence in our citizenship and my Christian conviction that my hospitality to immigrants is my hospitality to Jesus Christ himself.
Rev. Kathleen Reed
Reed is the pastor at University Lutheran Church:
In my tradition, resistance is an outcome of repentance. And at University Lutheran Church in Harvard Square we have now begun a long overdue process of repenting of our lack of attention to the plight of our immigrant neighbors who have been seeking –for years! — and not finding a permanent welcome. We have fallen short of the biblical mandate to love our neighbors as ourselves. But we are awake now. And we are eager. And though, honestly, we are not fully ready, we are getting ready. We commit to standing against systematic out-casting of our Muslim neighbors. We are ready to join with the undocumented and irregular visa status communities, community organizing groups, and our sister faith communities in Cambridge to plant our bodies in the doorways of the local, state, and federal government in support of our most vulnerable. Not for a moment, but for the long haul.
Very Rev. John P. Streit
Streit is the dean of the Cathedral of St. Paul:
Since September, 2000, Muslims have gathered in our Cathedral every Friday for their required midday prayers. When we recently renovated our building we added footbaths to help them with their ritual cleansing before prayers. In tile above the baths is scriptural passage from the prophet Isaiah that we try to uphold, “My house shall be called a House of Prayer for all people.
Rev. Robert Hardies
Hardies is the pastor of All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, D.C. He delivered the following at a protest against the order in front of the White House on Wednesday:
My name is Robert Hardies and I am pastor of All Souls Church, Unitarian here in Washington, DC.
I speak today as the pastor of a church located in the heart of DC’s Central American immigrant community, to say unequivocally that that we in the faith community stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters.
I speak today as pastor of a church that this coming Tuesday will host a training for congregations who are prepared to defy the orders of this president and provide sanctuary for our immigrant brothers and sisters, in accord with the ancient tradition of houses of worship providing such sanctuary.
I speak today as pastor of a church that has been screened and approved to work with our government and local social service agencies to help welcome and resettle refugees from Syria and other Muslim nations. We wanted to partner with our government in this work, not protest it! We wanted to partner with you, Mr. Trump, to welcome refugees to our shores just as my family and yours were once welcomed to these shores.
And finally I speak to you as a person of faith, the pastor of a church called All Souls Church. Not Some Souls Church, but All Souls Church. Our name says it all: we believe that the human family is one and that each and every one of us has worth and dignity.
We are here today to say that we will not cease in our protest until the immigration and refugee policies of this nation reflect this sacred truth.
This piece has been updated to reflect the final text of the order, which Trump signed on Friday. The initial 60-day ban on nationals from the seven targeted countries has been increased to 90 days.
Thanks to Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani.