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Family Separations: A word to the Church

By June 19, 2018 One Comment

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:1-2, NRSV)

Dear Church,

Over the past several weeks, new policies for the implementation of immigration laws have resulted in family detention and the separation of thousands of children from their parents across the United States. We, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), have proclaimed ourselves to be a pro-reconciling/anti-racist church, which extends welcome to all people, recognizing that every person is created in the image of God. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to “love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). When we start with love, we will understand that when laws dehumanize and discriminate, we are faithful in opposing such laws, and we are faithful in using our voice and our vote to call for love.

We condemn, therefore, the policy and practice of separating children from families and criminally prosecuting all persons who enter the United States without previous authorization. We denounce actions that degrade our neighbors and treat as criminals those who seek freedom and safety.

The practice, especially as implemented by the current administration through “zero tolerance” policies, is cruel and does violence to the most vulnerable–families who have fled their homes seeking safety in an unfamiliar land, only to have their children taken away from them. This violence is unnecessarily punitive. The stated intent of using family separation as a deterrent effectively weaponizes children against their parents and causes lasting emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual harm. Jesus had strong words for those who did harm to children, whom he welcomed to himself: “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6, NRSV)

For decades, we have supported, through congregational and denominational action, the rights and dignity of immigrants and those seeking asylum, remembering that according to the gospel of Matthew, Jesus and his parents were forced to flee for safety, and remembering with gratitude that Egypt did not separate our savior from his parents. From our origins, Disciples have exhibited as a primary mission commitment the extension of compassion and care to orphans, children, widows and families in need. Most recently, the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) convened in July, 2017 in Indianapolis, IN, affirmed Sense-of-the-Assembly resolution GA1723, which encouraged the church to “deepen its commitment to building unity and integration among all our Disciples congregations by issuing a call to congregations to become ‘immigrant welcoming congregations;’” support immigrant families “when facing and experiencing separation;” and “develop community protection and response models for families facing separation due to detention or deportation.”

In this crucial moment, we must put our faith into action, responding to the cries of our neighbors. Foremost must be advocacy to put an end to the policies that lead to family separation.  Here are some things you can do right now:

  • Learn about how current policies are affecting our immigrant neighbors, and connect with immigrant communities in your area.
  • Call and visit your elected representatives to oppose policies of family separation and support legislation that will keep families together. (Information and resources are available through Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries and Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel)
  • Add your signature to this letter (see below) to show your support. Invite members of your congregation to sign on, too.
  • Continue to pray, learn, and speak out!
  • Donate to Week of Compassion with the designation “Keep Families and Children Together.”

These children and families are deserving of human dignity and love.  Let’s stand together as followers of Christ to live out Jesus’ commandment to love.

With the love of Christ,

Sign and Share it here!

“Sigan amándose unos a otros como hermanos. No se olviden de brindar hospitalidad a los desconocidos, porque algunos que lo han hecho, ¡han hospedado ángeles sin darse cuenta!” (Hebreos 13:1-2, NTV)

Estimada iglesia,

Durante las semanas pasadas, pólizas nuevas para la implementación de leyes de inmigración han resultado en la detención de familia y la separación de miles niños y niñas de sus padres a través de los Estados Unidos. Nosotros, la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo), nos hemos proclamado a nosotros mismos ser una iglesia pro-reconciliadora/antirracista, que extiende la bienvenida a todas las personas, reconociendo que cada persona es creada a imagen de Dios. Como seguidores de Jesucristo, tenemos el mandamiento de “amarnos los unos a los otros; porque el que ama al prójimo, ha cumplido la ley” (Romanos 13:8). Cuando comenzamos con el amor, comprenderemos que cuando las leyes deshumanizan y discriminan, somos fieles en oponernos a tales leyes, y somos fieles en usar nuestra voz y nuestro voto para clamor por amor.

Por lo tanto, condenamos la política y la práctica de separar a los niños de sus familias y el enjuiciar penalmente a todas las personas que entren a los Estados Unidos sin autorización previa. Denunciamos acciones que degradan a nuestros vecinos y prójimos, y tratan como criminales a quienes buscan libertad y seguridad.

La práctica, especialmente como implementada por la administración actual a través de pólizas de “cero tolerancias”, es cruel y violenta contra los más vulnerables—familias que han huido de sus hogares buscando seguridad en una tierra desconocida, solo para experimentar que se les quiten a sus hijos. Esta violencia es innecesariamente punitiva. La intención declarada de usar la separación familiar como elemento de disuasión arma efectivamente a los niños contra sus padres y causa daños emocionales, psicológicos, físicos y espirituales duraderos. Jesús tuvo palabras fuertes para aquellos que hicieron daño a los niños, a quienes llamo a sí mismo: “Y cualquiera que haga tropezar a alguno de estos pequeños que creen en mí, mejor le fuera que se le colgase al cuello una piedra de molino de asno, y que se le hundiese en lo profundo del mar.” (Mateo 18:6, RVR1960)

Durante décadas, hemos apoyado, a través de acción congregacional y denominacional, los derechos y la dignidad de los inmigrantes y de aquellos solicitando asilo, recordando que, según el Evangelio de Mateo, Jesús y sus padres fueron obligados a huir por su seguridad y recordando con gratitud que Egipto no separo a nuestro salvador de sus padres. Desde nuestros orígenes, los Discípulos han exhibido como un compromiso de misión principal la extensión de la compasión y el cuidado a huérfanos, niños, viudas y familias necesitadas. Más recientemente, la Asamblea General de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo), convocada en julio de 2017 en Indianápolis, IN, afirmó la resolución GA1723, que motivó a la iglesia a “profundizar su compromiso de construir unidad e integración entre todas nuestras congregaciones de Discípulos haciendo un llamado a las congregaciones a convertirse en “congregaciones que le dan la bienvenida a los inmigrantes”, apoyar a las familias inmigrantes “cuando enfrentan y experimentan separación” y “desarrollar modelos de protección y respuesta comunitaria para familias que enfrentan separación debido a detención o deportación.”

En este momento crucial, tenemos que poner nuestra fe en acción, respondiendo al clamor y el llanto de nuestros prójimos y vecinos. Ante todo, debe haber abogacía y acción social para poner fin a las políticas que conducen a la separación familiar. Aquí hay algunas cosas que usted puede hacer ahora mismo:

Estos niños y estas familias merecen dignidad humana y amor. Permanezcamos unidos como seguidores de Cristo para vivir el mandamiento de Jesús de amar.

Con el amor de Cristo

One Comment

  • WE MUST HAVE THE SAME SOLUTIONS ADVOCATED AT THE SAME TIME FOR OUR DOMESTIC FAMILIES. BLACKS, BROWN AND POOR WHITE PARENTS WHO ARE ARRESTED AND DETAINED ARE SEPARATED FROM THEIR CHILDREN. AND THOSE CHILDREN ARE PLACED UNDER THE CARE OF VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS OF FAMILY AND CHILDREN SERVICES AROUND THIS COUNTRY. BLACK, BROWN, AND POOR WHITE FAMILIES ARE SUFFERING JUST LIKE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT FAMILIES. YET THEY ARE BEING FORGOTTEN. THIS IS REPEATING THE “WHITE PROGRESSIVE” MISTAKES OF WOMEN SUFFRAGETTE AND PROGRESSIVE “Normal School” EDUCATION MOVEMENTS. BLACK WOMEN AS A WHOLE DID NOT BENEFIT FROM THE FORMER (ESPECIALLY IN THE SOUTH WHERE ALL BLACKS WERE PREVENTED FROM EXERCISING THEIR “RIGHTS”) AND BLACK CHILDREN DID NOT BENEFIT FROM THE LATTER AS “SEPARATE BUT EQUAL” BECAME THE LAW OF THE LAND. RACISM INFECTED BOTH PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND IS INFECTING THIS MOVEMENT ALSO. BLACKS AND BROWN AND POOR WHITE FAMILIES ARE BEING IGNORED BY THE MEDIA AND THE CHURCH, INCLUDING DISCIPLES OF CHRIST. (Gerald Cunningham spoke often of the problem of the criminal justice system and industrial complex, but to death ears.)

    Democrats and Republican mayors and governors and legislatures must be held accountable for the domestic situations as we hold Trump and the federal government accountable for the immigration situation. We need to apply Womanist perspectives where the problems and solutions are approached systematically in regards to race, gender, ethnicity, social-educational strata, and economics power. Otherwise, like other “Progressive Movements” Black and Brown, Urban and Rural, will be left out of the equation in the name of WHITE POWER POLITICS of the major political parties. To allow the media, politicians, and the church to segregate this issue in this way is morally wrong.