President Trump’s order to ban all refugees and travel from seven majority-Muslim countries is facing significant legal challenges and vehement public opposition. We believe his actions to be unjust, unconstitutional and out of sync with basic human respect. However, it is not our intention to draw attention to the particular flaws and features of this order, or to delve into the dubious motives and callous disregard behind it, as these have been rehearsed repeatedly by credible news sources.
Instead, we want to reaffirm the Christian values that guide us as we try to navigate the difficult terrain we are crossing together as a nation. For the coming months and years will reveal not only who we are as Americans but, more fundamentally, who we are as Christians. It is with this long view in mind that we speak.
As Christians, we bear an inescapable responsibility to stand with those who are most vulnerable – the “least” of the “members” of God’s “family,” as Matthew writes in his Gospel (25:40). Our solidarity with others is based on Christ’s own solidarity with the widow, the orphan and the outcast.
This ministry Jesus calls us to as his disciples draws deeply from commandments in the Hebrew Bible to protect the powerless, oppressed and, furthermore, any “alien” living among the people of Israel. Thus, we read in Leviticus:
“The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (19:34).
This obligation not only reflects a major theme in the Scriptures, but it goes with the grain of the universe and represents the arc of justice that all people of faith recognize and live by. It lies at the foundation of the human rights we have long recognized as being essential for a just and good society.
Therefore, we are writing to ask you to join us as we prayerfully stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters who have been treated so harshly and unjustly by this executive order. We are also writing to ask you to pray for President Trump, that God would open his eyes to the error of his ways.
Finally, we are asking that we all stand together, enriched as we are by our many diverse languages, religions, ethnicities and cultures. May our unity in diversity shine with God’s light in this time of fracture.
The Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs Jr.
10th Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
The Rev. Canon Dr. William J. Danaher Jr.
Canon for Interfaith and Ecumenical Relations
Rector, Christ Church Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills