Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sanctuary on a Cold Border

As dozens of clergy people stood behind JaNae' Bates, a United Church of Christ minister and communications director of ISAIAH, as she announced 13 churches that have committed to being sanctuary and supporting congregations committed to protecting people who are in danger of deportation. Photographed at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer on Tuesday, December 6, 2016, in St. Paul, Minn.
We've heard that frightened refugees and asylum seekers in the United States are fleeing the country to Canada and often crossing the border on foot. Doing so in the dead of winter is foolhardy and illegal but they fear being deported by the Trump government to their countries of origin where danger awaits. The federal government's ban on entry for those from seven countries has created wider chaos and uncertainty which has led to this panic. Some have lost fingers and toes to frostbite.

Social services in small border towns are overwhelmed by the challenge of providing adequate food and shelter. On the American side agencies are also scrambling to provide support to those who are considering the frigid walk to what the asylum seekers hope will be freedom. Churches in Minnesota are stepping up to be places of refuge and comfort under the auspices of a justice coalition called ISAIAH. Here is a report from a Minneapolis newspaper about what is unfolding:

Clergy from more than 30 congregations in the Twin Cities and throughout Minnesota vowed Tuesday to shelter immigrants facing deportation or to support other churches that do. Church leaders said they are forming a new network of sanctuary places of worship in response to President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to step up deportations when he takes office in January. Organizers with the group ISAIAH said 13 churches have committed to shelter and feed immigrants in defiance of immigration authorities. About 20 additional congregations will provide financial and other support. “We will not let politics come before the sacredness of people,” said JaNae’ Bates, a United Church of Christ minister and communications director for ISAIAH. “As a human being, you are sacred so you should be safe in our sacred space.”

I'm grateful that these Christians are going against the tide of xenophobia and Islamophobia in the U.S. Have you heard about this sanctuary movement? Does it encourage you?

1 comment:

Frank said...

I have the feeling that communities of faith will start playing a larger role in justice issues of so many different persuasions (social, environmental, etc.). With the rise of populist nationalism political and democratic institutions are being compromised. So who else is left? The non-violent resistance movements of the past (Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr.) will serve as role models for what will likely be re-surfacing in our time.