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Category Archive for: "Statements and Press Releases"

National Evangelical Organizations Post Comments on Proposed ‘Public Charge’ Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Prominent evangelical organizations have posted the formal public comments they submitted regarding the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and World Relief each submitted comments.

Leaders of these and other evangelical organizations released the following joint statement Monday, explaining their opposition to the proposed rule, including concerns about its potential impact on marriages and families:

On October 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a proposed regulation in the Federal Register that would redefine longstanding understandings of who should be excluded from immigrating lawfully to the U.S. because they are likely to become a “public charge.” As the leadership of the Evangelical Immigration Table, we are troubled by the likelihood that these changes would keep many families apart.

This proposed regulation does not change existing policies that already restrict family-sponsored immigrants from accessing most means-tested public benefits, nor does it amend the existing requirement that a U.S.-based sponsor make a legally-binding commitment to be financially responsible for their immigrant family members.

Instead the proposal gives broad new discretion to governmental employees to deny applications for family reunification and other lawful immigrant visas based on the suspicion that an individual might someday apply for public benefits, taking into account considerations such as current income, family size, credit history and education level. 

The likely effect of this proposed rule change would be to significantly reduce legal immigration to the U.S., particularly among those applying on the basis of marriage or other close family ties. Families with multiple children, single-income households including those in which one parent has chosen to stay at home to care for children and those with children with medical issues or special needs would be particularly disadvantaged under the terms of the proposal. By one estimate, as many as 200,000 married couples annually could be denied immigrant visas, forcing the couple (and in many cases, their children) to either live separately or to live abroad. This is a deeply troubling shift in policy.

Over the past several years, thousands of evangelical pastors and ministry leaders have joined a call for immigration policy that prioritizes “the unity of the immediate family.” Evangelicals believe that marriage is an institution created by God and that the family is the most foundational building block of society. While Christians may disagree at points on the exact role of government in caring for the poor through public benefit programs, we are unified in our commitment to maintaining the unity of the family whenever possible. Policies that separate or bar the reunification of families are deeply troubling. We believe that all government policy – including immigration policy – should promote the strength and unity of families wherever possible.

In addition, attempts to restrict legal immigration, whether by administrative or legislative changes, are likely to incentivize illegal immigration.

As such, we are opposed to the proposed rule change. We encourage evangelical Christians throughout the country to voice their opposition to this proposal as well. And we urge our elected officials at all levels to do what is within their authority to ensure that our immigration policies protect the unity of immediate families.

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

Hyepin Im, President, Faith and Community Empowerment

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador and General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Evangelical Leaders Raise Concerns over Proposed ‘Public Charge’ Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nationally prominent evangelical leaders are expressing concerns about the impact on marriages and families of the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule.

The proposal from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would significantly redefine who could be considered a “public charge” and thus restricted from lawful immigration to the U.S. The public comment period closes today.

The evangelical leaders’ statement is available here and follows in full:

On October 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a proposed regulation in the Federal Register that would redefine longstanding understandings of who should be excluded from immigrating lawfully to the U.S. because they are likely to become a “public charge.” As the leadership of the Evangelical Immigration Table, we are troubled by the likelihood that these changes would keep many families apart.

This proposed regulation does not change existing policies that already restrict family-sponsored immigrants from accessing most means-tested public benefits, nor does it amend the existing requirement that a U.S.-based sponsor make a legally-binding commitment to be financially responsible for their immigrant family members.

Instead the proposal gives broad new discretion to governmental employees to deny applications for family reunification and other lawful immigrant visas based on the suspicion that an individual might someday apply for public benefits, taking into account considerations such as current income, family size, credit history and education level. 

The likely effect of this proposed rule change would be to significantly reduce legal immigration to the U.S., particularly among those applying on the basis of marriage or other close family ties. Families with multiple children, single-income households including those in which one parent has chosen to stay at home to care for children and those with children with medical issues or special needs would be particularly disadvantaged under the terms of the proposal. By one estimate, as many as 200,000 married couples annually could be denied immigrant visas, forcing the couple (and in many cases, their children) to either live separately or to live abroad. This is a deeply troubling shift in policy.

Over the past several years, thousands of evangelical pastors and ministry leaders have joined a call for immigration policy that prioritizes “the unity of the immediate family.” Evangelicals believe that marriage is an institution created by God and that the family is the most foundational building block of society. While Christians may disagree at points on the exact role of government in caring for the poor through public benefit programs, we are unified in our commitment to maintaining the unity of the family whenever possible. Policies that separate or bar the reunification of families are deeply troubling. We believe that all government policy – including immigration policy – should promote the strength and unity of families wherever possible.

In addition, attempts to restrict legal immigration, whether by administrative or legislative changes, are likely to incentivize illegal immigration.

As such, we are opposed to the proposed rule change. We encourage evangelical Christians throughout the country to voice their opposition to this proposal as well. And we urge our elected officials at all levels to do what is within their authority to ensure that our immigration policies protect the unity of immediate families.

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador, General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Evangelical Leaders Call for Compassionate Response to Caravan

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Evangelical leaders released a statement today encouraging churches to pray for Central American migrants making their way through southern Mexico toward the U.S.-Mexico border, and to join calls for comprehensive, compassionate immigration solutions.

“Beyond the role of the government, we encourage churches—both in the U.S. and in Latin America—to respond with Christ-like love to the vulnerable families and individuals who form this caravan,” they write. “… We also invite you to continue to join us in calling for a comprehensive solution to our deeply broken immigration system, which limits our government’s ability to effectively manage a large influx of asylum seekers and to protect those whose lives are in danger.”

The following are quotes today from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders:

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“At World Relief, we have worked with local churches to assist those who have fled their countries because of persecution or poverty for decades; we stand ready to do so now as individuals make their way through Mexico, many reportedly seeking asylum in the United States. Our government’s role is to enforce and abide by the law, which includes an obligation to ensure border security but also to carefully consider and adjudicate each request for asylum from those professing a credible fear of harm. We can be both a secure nation and a compassionate nation.”

Galen Carey, Vice President, Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Politicians and journalists sometimes sensationalize news reports while obscuring the real story. A few thousand desperate people fleeing violence and seeking a better life does not mean that our country is about to be invaded. Our borders are relatively secure, and our laws, while urgently in need of modernization, at least provide an opportunity for those fleeing persecution to present their case and be considered. We should be proud that our country has historically been the world’s leader in welcoming refugees. We urge our leaders not to overreact, and to allow those seeking asylum to have their day in court.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
“The caravan represents extraordinary complexity, yet these times require Christians to be clear about what God requires of us: To love him and our neighbor dearly and to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God, who is not daunted by complexity. It won’t be easy. It will be costly. It will be right.”

Hyepin Im, President and CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“The United States has a proud history of serving as a safe haven for those fleeing persecution and violence. We also have had moments in our history that we’re not proud of, when we turned away those fleeing persecution. Our asylum laws were written to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past, allowing anyone with a well-founded fear of persecution who reaches the U.S. the right to request protection. As a nation, we must not disregard our laws by turning our back on those who qualify for protection.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“Jesus said that the greatest commandment — the summary of all biblical instruction — was to love God and to love our neighbors. When pressed by a legal scholar on precisely what he meant by the command to love our neighbors, Jesus responded by telling the story of a ‘Good Samaritan’ who had compassion on a traveler of a different ethnicity who was in desperate need. And he told his followers to ‘go and do likewise.’”

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“People fleeing for their lives are not to be used as political props. Those escaping violence and persecution in Honduras and elsewhere bear the image of God and should be treated with dignity and compassion. As Christians, we should share the heart of Jesus for refugees and others imperiled. Applying for asylum is legal in the United States of America, and the law should be carried out for everyone who seeks to apply. Not everyone will receive asylum, but everyone should have the opportunity to follow the law.”

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Evangelical Leaders Object To Trump Administration Refugee Cap, Call for Increase

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday a ceiling of just 30,000 refugee admissions for fiscal year (FY) 2019, far lower than what leading evangelical voices have been urging.

Before President Trump consults Congress and formally signs a declaration, some evangelical Christian leaders are asking that they raise the cap significantly so that it reflects both the historical norm and the current record-high number of refugees worldwide.

They say that further cuts to the refugee resettlement program would harm religious freedom internationally and continue to shut out refugees of all backgrounds, including persecuted Christians and other religious minorities.

National leaders from the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter asking the Trump administration to admit more refugees for these reasons, also signed by more than 400 local pastors and leaders.

The announced new cap is even lower than this year’s historic low of 45,000 for this FY 2018, and the U.S. is on track to take in fewer than 22,000 refugees this fiscal year, also a record low.

The following are quotes from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders:

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“A cap of 30,000 jeopardizes the safety of future refugees, including persecuted Christians, who will no longer be able to find refuge in the U.S. It also does not reflect the actual capacity or willingness of Americans to receive and resettle refugees. This decision contradicts the administration’s declared commitment to helping persecuted Christian and religious minorities in dangerous and oppressive countries. Evangelicals should be concerned by this assault against our call to support ‘the least of these.’”

Galen Carey, Vice President, Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States has resettled more than 3 million refugees, an average of over 80,000 per year. Over this time, our GDP in real dollars has nearly tripled, while the number of refugees forced to flee their countries has also tripled to more than 25 million. The United States has led the world in providing opportunities for the world’s most vulnerable refugees to rebuild their lives in safety and peace. And yet, for 2019 the State Department has proposed to resettle only 30,000 refugees, a drastic reduction from our historic norm across Republican and Democratic administrations. We can do much better than this. We call on President Trump to approve a refugee admissions target of at least 75,000 for 2019.”

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“Students and faculty in many Christian college and university communities, along with their local churches, have been deeply invested in welcoming refugees and helping them to integrate into local communities for many years. Now, though, the number of refugees admitted nationally is down roughly 75 percent from what it was just two years ago, and this week’s proposal to further reduce the refugee ceiling means arrivals will likely decline even further. Throughout the country, there are many eager to apply our Christian faith by welcoming those who have been forced to flee persecution. I urge our government to return the refugee ceiling to a level consistent with past administrations.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador and General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church:
“The administration has made some laudable efforts to highlight the importance of protecting religious freedom internationally. But this proposed dramatic cut to the U.S. refugee resettlement program — which over the past four decades has provided safety, religious freedom and a new start to hundreds of thousands of persecuted Christians forced to flee their home countries — undermines our national credibility on questions of religious freedom. It’s not too late for President Trump to change course and sign a presidential determination for a refugee ceiling closer to the historical norm, such as 75,000, which would mean hope for thousands of persecuted people throughout our world.”

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“Seeing yet another drop in refugee numbers should be a shock to the conscience of all Americans. One day we will be ashamed that we as a nation turned inward, and away from our great tradition of serving as a beacon of liberty to those fleeing for their lives. Obviously, we cannot take in unlimited numbers of refugees, but the increasingly lower number of those we do take is far below the level where America could and should be in leading the world in compassion for those in peril. As a Christian, I am concerned for the well-being of all those in peril. And I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Christ in the persecuted church, many of whom will be harmed by this closed door.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“America has long been a beacon of freedom and safety for those fleeing persecution, including many persecuted for their Christian faith, but the proposed cap of just 30,000 refugees would mean stepping back from our historic role of global leadership. We can both be a secure nation and a compassionate nation, leading the world in resettling the most vulnerable refugees who have been identified and vetted abroad and ensuring due process for those who reach our country to request asylum.”

Evangelical Leaders Urge Trump Administration to Admit More Refugees

Click here for a recording of today’s call

September 12, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Further cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement program would harm religious freedom internationally, local pastors and national leaders said on a press call today.

The Trump administration is expected to maintain or lower the refugee cap from this year’s historic low of 45,000, despite the record-high number of refugees worldwide. No matter the cap, the U.S. is on track to take in a record-low 22,000 refugees this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Refugees of all backgrounds, including Christians and other religious minorities fleeing persecution for their faith, have been shut out.

National leaders from the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter in August asking the Trump administration to admit more refugees, citing religious liberty and our history of offering safe haven to people fleeing religious persecution. Grassroots leaders have since joined them; more than 400 local pastors and lay leaders have signed on to the letter.

The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:

Nathan Bult, Director of Government Affairs, Bethany Christian Services:
“At Bethany Christian Services, we know that refugee resettlement saves lives, and that is why we are deeply concerned about the decline in refugee admissions. Every refugee has a name, every refugee has a story, and every refugee matters to God — that means every refugee should matter to us. As persecution of religious and ethnic minorities escalates around the world, Bethany remains committed to welcoming refugees just like Jesus has called us to.”

Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Over the past 40 years, American evangelical Christians have opened their hearts and homes to hundreds of thousands of refugees, including many persecuted believers who would otherwise not be alive today. This extraordinary ministry of mercy has nearly ground to a halt as the sharp reduction in refugee resettlement approvals has left tens of thousands of refugees stranded in dangerous refugee camps and settlements. We can and must do much better than this. We ask President Trump to allow at least 75,000 refugees to resettle in the United States in the coming year.”

Eric Costanzo, Senior Pastor, South Tulsa Baptist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma:
“At a time when the needs of the world’s most vulnerable are the greatest, we are in danger of welcoming fewer children, women and men than ever in our refugee resettlement program’s history, including after 9/11. The program has nearly been ground to a halt, and its infrastructure for the future is evaporating. As American evangelical Christians, living in a country with unmatched wealth and extravagance, I believe we must absolutely ask ourselves how God would have us respond on behalf of people made in His image during the worst refugee crisis the world has ever seen. We are praying that the current administration and our elected officials will listen to those of us who work with refugees personally, and restore responsible vitality to our resettlement program.”

Patrick Vaughn, Assistant Pastor, Christ Church East Bay, Oakland, California:
“As an evangelical pastor, I believe hospitality toward refugees reflects the heart of God. As followers of Jesus and as Americans, I believe the Church has extensive resources for welcoming refugees. It is my sincere hope, along with other evangelical Christians, that as a country we will be courageous by sharing our resources by welcoming refugees into the freedom and security that our country has to offer to refugees.”

Jenny Yang, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“The drastic decline in refugee resettlement over the past couple years has meant that far fewer persecuted people, including those persecuted for their Christian faith, have been able to find safety and religious freedom in the U.S. A further cut to the ceiling for refugee resettlement would harm even more people persecuted for their faith. We’re praying that President Trump will set the ceiling back at 75,000, and World Relief and our many partner churches, along with other resettlement organizations, stand ready to welcome them.”

Statement on the Life and Legacy of Sen. John McCain

August 30, 2018 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The leadership of the Evangelical Immigration Table issued the following statement reflecting on the life and legacy of Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), who died on Saturday. Quotes from Table leaders and Arizona evangelical pastors follow the statement:

“As evangelical leaders, we honor the life and leadership of Sen. John McCain. We will particularly miss his leadership in the long struggle to reform our broken immigration system. Sen. McCain pushed for immigration reform for years, participating in countless meetings with evangelical leaders both in Arizona and in Washington, D.C. He expressed appreciation for the approach and principles of the Evangelical Immigration Table, with a concern for border security, family unity, refugee resettlement, a responsive legal immigration system and a workable solution for the undocumented.

Representing a border state at the center of the nation’s immigration debate, he displayed a clear understanding of the issues and a keen appreciation for the invaluable contributions of immigrants to strengthening our nation. 

Sen. McCain was a man of character and faith, which he displayed in the many meetings during which he requested the prayers of faith leaders. He frequently would take the time to pray with those he encountered as he sought wisdom and courage to carry out his leadership duties faithfully.

His passing leaves a large void in Congress, not only on immigration but on other issues, including religious freedom and human rights. His leadership and role as a senior statesman will be missed deeply. Our prayers are with Sen. McCain’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.  We pray for others to take up his mantle of courageous and compassionate leadership.”

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment (formerly Korean Churches for Community Development)

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador and General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

The following are quotes from national leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table and from local pastors in Arizona:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“John McCain courageously sought immigration reform — seeking answers instead of arguments. Who will courageously continue his cause?”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“Sen. John McCain was a champion for refugees, immigrants and vulnerable people around the world. His values-driven leadership made our country and the world better, and he will be greatly missed.”

Caleb Campbell, Lead Pastor, Desert Springs Bible Church, Phoenix:
“Sen. McCain represented me in Washington for the majority of my life. Though a maverick, he was no island. He was part of the community and nation he served. His steadfast courage, principled leadership and winsome storytelling will be greatly missed.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“What a great loss for our country and the world. We will miss Sen. McCain’s leadership and presence.”

Chris Schutte, Former Rector, Christ Church Anglican, Phoenix:
“In the midst of his busy schedule in the fall of 2013, Sen. McCain took time with meet with a group of evangelical pastors to discuss how we might best engage our congregations on the issue of immigration. The senator took many personal risks in his consistent advocacy for a compassionate, pragmatic, and inclusive immigration policies—respectful of the rule of law while also understanding the complexities of individual stories—and his courage inspired us to draw on the biblical stories of welcoming strangers in our own life and ministries. He also seemed genuinely desirous of prayer. No one can replace Senator John McCain, but I’m hopeful that his vision for Arizona, America, and the world might take root in these most troubling times.”

Citing Religious Liberty, Evangelical Leaders Urge Trump Administration to Support Refugee Resettlement

August 8, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Evangelical Christian leaders have sent a letter asking the Trump administration to raise the refugee ceiling, citing religious liberty and our nation’s history of offering safe haven to people fleeing religious persecution.

Signatories express deep concern that further cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement program would harm religious freedom internationally. The letter was sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.

“We ask you each to do all that is within your authority to ensure that the various departments of the U.S. government cooperate to resume refugee resettlement at a level consistent with historical norms, including recommending to the president a refugee ceiling of at least 75,000 for fiscal year 2019 and allocating necessary resources to ensure that refugees are being processed and vetted as efficiently as possible overseas,” the letter reads in part.

The following are quotes from national evangelical leaders who have signed on to the letter:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Those who are persecuted and displaced because of their faith need our support. For many, it is a matter of life and death. We urge our leaders to resettle at least 75,000 refugees in the coming year.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“Compassion and security are not mutually exclusive. The United States has for many years been a beacon of hope to persecuted people around the world. We have also been an example to many other nations who have followed our lead to welcome those persecuted for their faith. We have nearly abandoned this place of moral leadership — admittance of persecuted Christians from particular countries is down 98 percent, for example. We urge our leaders to return to our national heritage of welcome to persecuted people of all faiths (or no faith at all).”

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“The United States has long welcomed people from around the world who are fleeing dangerous situations, including religious persecution. Our faith calls us to care for those who are most vulnerable. The Church stands ready to assist refugees; there are good and ready solutions to urgent problems. We urge this administration to support these solutions.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Korean Churches for Community Development/Faith and Community Empowerment:
“Our country was founded by those seeking religious freedom. We urge Secretary Pompeo and other leaders to continue to honor our country’s legacy and leadership. The recent stark decline in the number of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities allowed into the U.S. refugee resettlement program is appalling. We urge the administration’s leadership and commitment to those seeking protection and freedom and to reset the settlement numbers to past historic numbers.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador, General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church:
“As a participant in the recent ministerial conference on religious freedom, I was encouraged concerning the commitment of this administration to the suffering people. We in the faith community stand ready to welcome the persecuted and are ready for increased numbers.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“I’m grateful for efforts to support religious freedom throughout the world. Until other countries are free of religious persecution, though, it is vital that the U.S. continue to welcome refugees who have been persecuted on account of their faith. As a nation, we must not turn our backs on the persecuted church.”

Travis Wussow, Vice President for Public Policy and General Counsel, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“One key measure of our country’s commitment to religious freedom abroad is how we treat the refugee fleeing persecution. Unfortunately, while attention to religious freedom is growing, the number of refugees admitted to the United States – including the admission of persecuted Christians – is shrinking. Our commitment is wide in speech, but is it deep enough in action to welcome refugees upon our shores? We are expected to do both.”

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Leading Evangelical Women Address Refugees, Family Separation, Dreamers

A recording of today’s call is available here.

June 18, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Prominent evangelical women from across the nation called for compassionate solutions to family separation and other pressing immigration challenges during a press call today.

Some of the speakers will join a delegation of evangelical women and men meeting with congressional offices Tuesday.

Speakers addressed the plight of refugees and others fleeing persecution ahead of World Refugee Day on Wednesday, as well as the importance of unified families and a solution for Dreamers. Thousands of evangelical women and hundreds of local pastors have signed on to a June 1 letter Evangelical Immigration Table leaders sent to President Trump, urging his administration to reverse the policy that separates families.

Despite a record number of refugees worldwide. the country is on pace to admit fewer than 22,000 refugees in 2018, down from nearly 100,000 in 2016 and more than 200,000 in 1980.

The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:

Jennifer Foy, Executive Director, World Relief Triad (High Point, N.C.):
“The dramatic decline in refugee admissions over the past year has directly contributed to the crisis we’re seeing at the border today. With far fewer opportunities to come lawfully as a refugee — after applying abroad and undergoing a thorough screening — more and more individuals facing very real threats of violence feel they have no choice but to make a difficult journey to the U.S. border to request asylum. That we’d then take their children from them is simply wrong.”

Kathryn Freeman, Director of Public Policy, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission:
“Each of the issues we discussed today — refugee resettlement, family separation along our border with Mexico, and Dreamers — are significant issues for Texas Baptists. I’m eager to share with Texas elected officials on Capitol Hill tomorrow why it’s so urgent that we find solutions.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“As a mother and a grandmother, I’m horrified by what our government is doing to children at the U.S.-Mexico border. We’re calling on the administration to reverse this ‘zero tolerance’ policy immediately, while also urging them to resume our nation’s historical role of leadership in resettling refugees.”

Helena Muliwa, former refugee from Burundi, resettled by World Relief Triad:
“I’m so thankful for this country for providing me, for the first time in 25 years, with a safe and secure place. While I’m grateful for my own sake, though, I’m mindful of the many other refugees, fleeing various conflicts around the world, who are not offered the same opportunity that I had. I’m praying our elected officials will listen.” 

Dr. Shirley Mullen, President, Houghton College, Houghton, N.Y.:
“Refugees are playing a key part in the economic and cultural revitalization of our northern cities like Buffalo and Utica. They are bringing to America in 2018 the same kind of renewing energy that refugees have always brought to America throughout its history. We strongly support the return to traditional higher levels of refugee resettlement. As we have worked to provide affordable and high-quality educational resources for refugees in Buffalo and Utica, we have found them to be among the most appreciative, energetic and grateful citizens of our country today. They are committed to investing in an America that will be better for all of us.”  

Trillia Newbell, Director for Community Engagement, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“For evangelicals, the Bible is our top authority. The Scriptures are clear that God loves and protects refugees and other immigrants. He cares for children. He made each person in his image, and their lives are worth protecting.” 

Kelly Rosati, Justice Liaison, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“Whether we’re talking about families showing up at the border right now or Dreamers who were brought here decades ago, we all ought to be able to agree that we should not punish children for the actions of their parents. I personally think those parents are heroic, seeking to provide safety and a future for their kids. But, even for those who disagree, we ought all agree that we should not punish children for their parents’ decisions, nor use these kids’ as a political bargaining chip.”

Ava Steaffens, CEO, Christian Community Development Association:
“Having grown up in a family who came to the U.S. as refugees from Cuba, these issues are deeply important to me personally. For the thousands of local ministries that are a part of the Christian Community Development Association, these are concerns that affect us every day. I’m praying that our elected leaders will act quickly to reverse harmful administration policies that are diving families at the border and dramatically restricting the U.S. refugee resettlement program, and that Congress will work together on a bipartisan basis to find a permanent, inclusive solution for Dreamers without draconian cuts to legal immigration options.”

Southern Baptist Convention Reaffirms Support for Immigrants

June 13, 2018

DALLAS The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) overwhelmingly passed a resolution affirming its support for immigrants and call for immigration reform during its annual meeting Tuesday.

The resolution highlights the importance of maintaining family unity, the need for a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants with appropriate restitutionary measures, and the importance of secure borders.

“I am grateful for the strong, unanimous vote of the Southern Baptist Convention in support of our immigrant neighbors and brothers and sisters in Christ. I am grateful for the way that churches all around the country are ministering to immigrant communities,” said Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “Now is the time for our country to act justly, to stop separating families, and to fix an immigration system that is hurting too many people in our country today.” The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is a member of the Evangelical Immigration Table.

The resolution also calls upon Southern Baptist churches to actively minister to vulnerable immigrants and denounces “any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation [as] inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.” A separate resolution, also passed Tuesday, specifically reaffirms a 2016 call for “Southern Baptist churches and families to welcome and adopt refugees into their churches and homes.”

The Southern Baptist Convention, which is the nation’s largest evangelical denomination, last passed a resolution calling for immigration reform in 2011. As Tuesday’s resolution notes, “after seven years of continued policy gridlock, there have been no substantive changes in the immigration system that would make it more just, humane, efficient, and orderly.”

Other leaders within the Evangelical Immigration Table added their support for the SBC resolution:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
The Southern Baptist Convention got it right about immigration reform taking too long.  Government hears pleas and debates recommendations but keeps postponing to future years while so many children and families keeping waiting.

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“Southern Baptists and other evangelicals have long advocated for immigration reform consistent with biblical values of compassion, family unity, and respect for the rule of law. This new resolution re-affirms that evangelicals continue to stand with immigrants. In the midst of a number of troubling changes to US immigration policy, I’m encouraged that evangelical Christians are speaking up clearly for the dignity of our immigrant brothers, sisters, and neighbors.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
“We commend our Southern Baptist brothers and sisters in Christ for their reaffirmation of the value and dignity of immigrants, their call for a just and equitable immigration system, and their encouragement for churches to serve their local immigrant communities. We pray Congress will act to fix our broken immigration system so that it reflects these values and most immediately provides a permanent, legislative solution for Dreamers — beloved children of God.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment (formerly Korean Churches for Community Development):
“The Southern Baptist Convention’s resolution on immigrants is a powerful testament to who we are and what we are called to do as believers.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“I’m so grateful to the Messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention for this powerful resolution. I look forward to how we will all work together making this resolution a reality in the lives of millions of immigrants and refugees who will experience the love, hope and a future through the servants of Jesus Christ.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“Hispanic evangelicals — including many Southern Baptists as well as many in other denominations — are grateful for this very strong, unanimous resolution from the Southern Baptist Convention this week, clearly affirming both the urgency of immigration reform and the call on all Christians to extend God’s love to the immigrants in our midst.”

Local Pastors Decry Family Separation, Echoing National Evangelical Leaders

June 6, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hundreds of evangelical Christians across the country, including about 200 local pastors and ministry leaders, have added their names to a letter denouncing policies that divide children from their parents.

National evangelical leaders sent the letter to President Trump Friday, as Christianity Today, CBN, the Arizona Republic, the San Antonio Express-News and others have reported.

“We are concerned that the new ‘zero tolerance’ policy at the U.S.-Mexico border … has had the effect of separating vulnerable children from their parents,” the letter reads. “The traumatic effects of this separation on these young children, which could be devastating and long-lasting, are of utmost concern.”

The letter also urges the president to resume a robust refugee resettlement program. The U.S. is on track to resettle fewer than 22,000 refugees in 2018, down from nearly 100,000 in 2016 and more than 200,000 in 1980.

The following are quotes from local evangelical leaders who have signed on to the letter:

Laurie and Kenton Beshore, Lead Pastors, Mariners Church, Orange County, California:
“Evangelical Christians have a range of political beliefs when it comes to immigration issues, but one thing that unites us is a biblically-informed view that God has established families and that we should do all we can to protect children. It’s wrong to separate small children from their mothers and fathers who are seeking asylum under the terms of our laws. Doing so could have long-term traumatic impacts on these children. I hope and pray that our nation will reverse course on this policy.”

Sam Creagar, Pastor of Outreach, Faith Evangelical Free Church, Manhattan, Kansas:
“My faith and my conscience lead me to believe a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy that separates children from their families is wrong. I know border security is difficult and I understand that our nation’s laws must be enforced for the common good, but justice without discretion leads to cruelty, tyranny, and ultimately injustice.”

Lauren Fernandez, Pastor, Rhythm Church, Miami, Florida
“As followers of Jesus, we believe that God calls us to extend compassion for the suffering. The reasons Central America families, many of whom I call friends, travel to the border and seek asylum are complex. When we’ve reached the point of tearing children from their mothers as they arrive at the border, as is the effect of this new ‘zero tolerance’ policy, we’ve clearly gone too far and we have completely missed God’s call to suffer with others. My prayers are our leaders will extend mercy on the families and create justice through reformed immigration policies.”

Leslie Leyland Fields, Writer and Speaker, Kodiak, Alaska:
“As a mother of six, and as a Christian, I have to speak up against this wrong-headed ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy. Wars are raging around the world, and this is what we focus our power and influence on: separating families? Evicting, dividing and destroying our weakest and neediest neighbors? This is the furthest thing possible from the gospel.”

Chris Sicks, Associate Pastor, Alexandria Presbyterian Church, Alexandria, Virginia:
“The nuclear family was ordained by God as the strong foundation of a society. When the zeal to enforce a valid man-made law knowingly causes innocent children harm, it violates eternal moral law.”

Kevin McBride, Senior Pastor, Raymond Baptist Church, Raymond, New Hampshire:
“The current policy of separating children from their families at the border violates a biblical principle of protecting the family unit and tries to impose a false justice upon innocent children who have no voice in decisions made for them. As a Christian pastor I am called to help protect and heal families with God’s grace and mercy, not punish them.”

 

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