Showing Up for the Stranger: The Church Speaks Out Against the Travel Ban

Showing Up for the Stranger: The Church Speaks Out Against the Travel Ban February 16, 2017

Ever look around at the news/world/government these days and say “for the love of all that is holy, where is the Church??”

Blatant marginalizing and silencing of women; racist rhetoric at every level of leadership; the destruction of the environment and the attempt to dismantle the EPA; the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and the continued scapegoating of the most disadvantaged among us; escalating violence in our communities and the continued glorification of guns and violence as some sick semblance of freedom? Where in the world is the Body of Christ in all this? Where are the ones who claim to walk in “another way,” embodying grace and mercy and care of the least of these? Where is the faith-based moral outrage?

Crickets.

Sure, there are individual congregations out there addressing these matters in their own communities. But as a broad, corporate entity, the Church–Big ‘C’– seems to be appallingly silent in these matters of systemic injustice that are so glaring in our time. It’s not the first time we have failed, and it won’t be the last…

BUT… (Aren’t you glad there’s a conjunction here?) All is not lost. Because it turns out there is at least one issue that is so near and dear to the Church’s heart, that God’s people will show up, after all, and say–oh, hell no you don’t.

In this case, that “one thing” seems to be our collective love for immigrants and refugees. Because in the wake of the Immigration Ban/Executive Order fiasco, major mainline denominations and religious organizations started issuing statements of welcome and solidarity with their immigrant brothers and sisters. And it wasn’t just local congregations, these statements were coming from denominational bodies and top leaders. First one, then another, then another… Until I started looking around to see which church bodies had made formal statements on this matter until I found–definitely more than a scant handful.

Hallelujah.

Here is a list, as far as I know, of major religious organizations who are have issued official statements. The expressions may be different from one body to another, but the sentiments are the same– our faith dictates that we welcome the stranger, and there is no higher calling.

The United Methodist Church, Bishop statement

The Church of the Nazarene, call for relief efforts comes from top leaders

Christian Church, Disciples of Christ

The Catholic Church, top bishops respond

Statement from the World Council of Churches 

The United Church of Christ

The African Methodist Episcopal Church

The Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

The Presbyterian Church, USA

The American Baptist Church

The Episcopal Church

The Unitarian Universalist Association

And 100 top Evangelical leaders, outside of official denominations, took out a full page newspaper ad denouncing the Executive Order and supporting immigrants.

Did I miss anybody? If so, send me a link and I’ll add it.

We know the Church is not perfect. God love her, she’s kind of a hot mess sometimes. Still, every now and then, this broken body of believers gets something right. And that is always worth celebrating. As this conversation continues to evolve, in our communities and our congregations, I’m encouraged by the number of leaders who step out in faith, and speak for the stranger. Let this diversity of voices and wide range of belief remind us that immigration is not a political issue, but a human one. That makes it God’s business. Which makes it ours.

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