by JACK SUNTRUP @JackSuntrup
NORTHAMPTON — Religious leaders across the state on Tuesday called on President Donald Trump to reconsider his executive order that freezes refugee resettlement in the United States for four months. In an open letter, the Massachusetts Council of Churches called the executive order “injurious.” “We grieve this decision to limit refugees, as it will cause further suffering, not just to our fellow Christians escaping persecution, but all refugees fleeing violence,” the letter reads.
It quotes from scripture, specifically Deuteronomy 10:19: “You shall also love the foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” “Our savior was a migrant,” the letter continues. “We hear Jesus Christ declare in Matthew 25 that His followers will be judged if we do not welcome the stranger. We stand under that judgment today.” The letter ends with a call for Trump to “reconsider ” his executive action. “We ask our churches to reach out in love and Christian hospitality to the refugees living near them,” the letter reads. “We encourage our churches to show compassion and support to those who have fled hardship and violence.”
The letter was signed by 17 Massachusetts religious leaders, including local leaders Bishop Douglas Fisher of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield. Rozanski, bishop of the Roman Catholic Springfield Archdiocese, penned an open letter of his own. “While I certainly appreciate and recognize the need for our government to maintain policies which safeguard the nation and its citizens, this need not come at the expense of innocent people, many who are families with young children trying to escape unspeakable violence and hardships,” the letter reads, in part.
Representatives of many other denominations signed the letter from the Massachusetts Council of Churches, including the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers), the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Boston-Hartford District, the United Methodist Church, New England Conference and the United Church of Christ, Massachusetts Conference.
The Rev. Todd Weir, of First Churches of Northampton, said he and representatives from other houses of worship are organizing an interfaith coalition. “This is the time where we have to put our faith in action,” he said, “and stand with people in the face of the injustice being carried out by our current administration.”
Jack Suntrup can be reached at jsuntrup@ gazettenet.com.