Elijah Leaders respond to Muslim Immigration Restrictions
Message from Rabbi Arthur Green
I write you as a horrified and shame-faced American. I had not believed that this country that I love so much could have turned in the direction that it has. I am deeply worried for its future – which of course means the future of our entire world – on many fronts, including the very survival of our planet.
Now comes this ban on immagrants from Muslim countries, in a foolish and desperate move to stem terrorism. We all know what effect this is likely to have – just the opposite! But even without that fear, the horror of it evokes all the memories of America closing its gates to other immigrants who were of a then “undesireable” group. We Jews have long memories, as you know. But this is just a short time ago, when the doors were closed to Jewish immigrants in 1938-40, with the claim that “there might be Nazi spies among them.” Those who supported such a closing were precisely the ones who cried out “America First!,” which the new president (I hesitate to use his name) is now adopting as his slogan.
What can we do? Pray for a change, work for a change. Appeal for an exception for Syrian refugees. Meanwhile, we committ ourselves to local efforts to create sancuaries for those already here, but who may need them, due to insecure immigration status. I know that some of my friends in Israel have been engaged in similar work on behalf of African refugees there. Who would have thought that the same would be needed in the US?
Appealing for your prayers, and joining with you in them!
Yours, Art Green
Message from Dr. Nazeer Ahmed
The Muslim ban terrorizes those who are already terrorized. In Syria, in particular, the relentless bombardment of the civilian population by foreign and indigenous forces has generated waves of refugees who just want to ensure that their children are not killed and their lineage is not obliterated. Almost half the population is displaced. Waves of humanity move across the Eurasian frontier in search of refuge. It is tragic that America, a nation founded by immigrants fleeing religious persecution in their native lands, has now issued a ban on refugees who are fleeing the devastation of war in their own countries. History is witness to what happened when thousands of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany were turned away from American shores. Must history repeat itself? As people of faith, we pray for the oppressed (and for the oppressor so his hand is restrained) and we raise our voice against racism and bigotry. And we do extend our moral support to those who engage the dark forces of hate and strive to create a better world for our children and grandchildren, a world free of fear, a world at peace without war. Of course, all migrants looking to lead a new life in America are welcome to apply for a visa and check their USCIS Case Status to see if they have been approved. This is considered the safest and easiest way for residents of other nations to begin life in America.
Message from Frank T. Griswold
We, in the United States are all immigrants, including Mr. Trump. Even the native peoples encountered by the first explorers and settlers had migrated from elsewhere. The only difference among us is when we, or our ancestors, first arrived. In virtue of our shared humanity and the divine image given us in creation, we are all brothers and sisters. Welcoming the “stranger at the gate,” the outcast and those who stand in need is a sacred obligation across religions, and is proclaimed and realized for Christians in the person of Jesus. If the United States dares to proclaim itself “a Nation under God,” then it will have to examine its policies and way of being in the world under the searing gaze of the Holy One who is both merciful and just.
Frank T. Griswold
Former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church