A Statement by The Rev’d Canon E. Mark Stevenson
Director, Episcopal Migration Ministries
June 26, 2017
We learned this morning that the Supreme Court has decided to allow portions of the president’s executive order(s) regarding admission of foreign nationals in general, and refugees specifically, to move forward until a full hearing and ruling in the fall. While we await an official “sorting” of how today’s events will be implemented practically, in the coming days one thing we know for sure is that many who would have found safety, rest, and a chance for life in this country will now be left to fend for themselves in conditions that are far from hopeful.
Others have written, and will write more I am sure, on the legalities and logistics of this action. I, myself, may well write or comment about those things in the coming days. But for now I choose to reflect as a person of faith who is looking for a way forward through these times.
I find myself drawn to one particular phrase in the Court’s pronouncement – that restricting admissions to those with close family or professional ties to the US and excluding all others “does not burden any American party”. While that may or may not be true from a legal standpoint, it most certainly is not true from where this American, this Christian, sits and reflects. I feel the burden tremendously, as our country says to those who are “other” that their suffering is less important than is mine. That seems to me to be decidedly un-Christ-like.
As a follower of Jesus, I hear his command to love and care for the poor, the stranger, and the persecuted. I see his example of suffering for the sake of others, even the laying down his life, to be a call for helping and not for fearful isolationism. I read Matthew 25, and feel led to see the face of God in all people. I read Luke 16, and fear that while I am one who has been graced to live in this country of freedom and wealth I am refusing nonetheless to share that grace with others. I read John 11, and see that Jesus weeps not only at his own pain but at the hurt of others as well and cannot help but see the redemptive power of that act.
Even if the government ultimately decides that we “may” discriminate against a person, the question for me is “should we?”.