[National Council of Churches press release]
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord… when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”
-(Matthew 25:37-40 excerpts, NRSV)
As the world is facing the greatest refugee crisis in history, with over 65 million people displaced from their homes because of conflict, President Donald Trump has chosen to take draconian measures to close our borders not only to refugees, but also legal residents of the United States through an ill-conceived executive order. We stand firmly against these actions.
The executive order takes aim against seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The many thousands of victims of this action are primarily Muslims, thereby making it extremely difficult for Mr. Trump to credibly argue his intent is not to target the Muslim community.
The president has stated his preference to come to the aid of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. The National Council of Churches, too, is deeply concerned about the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in war-torn regions. Our Christian sisters and brothers have been deeply impacted by anti-Christian persecution in Syria, Iraq, and other countries.
Nevertheless, placing a religious test upon those fleeing persecution is un-American.
We commend the leadership Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have given in this time of national crisis. We agree with the senators that “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country.”
“Terrorism is not the product of any one religion,” said NCC General Secretary Jim Winkler, “and it has been shown that targeting refugees from these and other countries is a fool’s errand. And to enact what ultimately amounts to a ‘Muslim ban’ is to encourage terrorism. Further, any hint of favoritism shown toward Middle East Christians plays to Muslim fears that the Crusades are not over.”
We stand with and support those US officials and countless Americans who object to this executive action and are seeking ways to bring about justice. We lift our voice to join the demonstrations taking place in America’s cities and airports. Without question, an outpouring of love and concern for Muslims has become an integral part of our witness across the country, something that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.