Regional Synod of Albany Statement on the Refugee Travel Ban
Feb. 6 2017
Leviticus 19:34: “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.”
Deuteronomy 10:17-19: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords…who loves the strangers… You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Matthew 25:35, 40: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me…‘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.’ ”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy…” (Matthew 5:7). Many of us recently were reminded of these words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount.
These are troubled times. Our nation is sharply divided along party lines; our world suffers the horrifying effects of war and terrorism. Fear abounds, and the recent travel ban against people from predominantly Muslim nations is the response that the new White House has selected in order to “make us safe”. Many of us know individuals who have been caught up in the travel ban who are simply trying to live their lives and provide for their families.
As Christians called “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God,” (Micah 6:8) how must we respond?
In the Regional Synod of Albany, we join Christians from other denominations in rejecting the fear of the stranger that would prevent us from offering hospitality, welcome and refuge to those who flee trouble in war-torn lands. A statement from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops reads, “We believe that now more than ever, welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope.” Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, states, “We must offer safety to people fleeing religious persecution regardless of their faith tradition. Christians and other religious minorities suffer persecution and rightly deserve protection, but including additional criteria based on religion could have discriminatory effects that would go against our nation’s fundamental values related to freedom of religion.”
In this same spirit, we call on the new administration to end the travel ban so that refugees who are properly vetted may enter the US and settle in places prepared for them. We call on our synod churches to speak out for justice for the stranger and welcome for all, regardless of ethnicity, country of origin, and religion.
In Matthew 25:35, Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” In this poignant parable, Jesus has not only commanded us to welcome the stranger, but he also makes it clear that when we welcome the stranger into our homes and our land, we welcome him.
Statement approved by the Regional Synod of Albany Executive Committee