Christian groups decry U.S. policy change on Salvadorans as Episcopalians offer support

By David Paulsen
Posted Jan 11, 2018
Crecen meeting

Dozens of people attend an event this week organized by Crecen in Houston to provide information and show support for those affected by the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for Salvadorans. Photo: Crecen, via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church and ecumenical partner organizations are calling on Congress to act if the Trump administration refuses to reconsider its decision to end immigration protections for nearly 200,000 Salvadorans who have for years been allowed to establish roots and raise families in American communities.

At issue is the policy known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. The Trump administration has taken a hard line on the policy, saying it never was intended to offer immigrants permanent residency. The status typically is granted to foreign nationals from countries suffering from natural disasters or wars.

In November, the administration ordered an end to TPS for more than 50,000 Haitians by mid-2019. President Barack Obama had approved that TPS designation after a 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti.

Salvadorans have made up the largest group allowed to remain in the United States under TPS. The protection from deportation was granted to Salvadorans by President George W. Bush in 2001 after an earthquake struck El Salvador. Now, Salvadorans will have until September 2019 to obtain legal permanent residency in the United States or leave the country.

“If there’s any group of people you can imagine wide agreement that they not be deported, it’s this set of people,” said Sarah Lawton, a lay leader in the Episcopal Diocese of California who has made outreach to Salvadorans “an issue of the heart for me” since the 1980s.

The Salvadoran families who are being assisted by religious groups in San Francisco are contributing members of the local community, said Lawton, a member of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church. The families typically include hard-working parents and children who are U.S. citizens because they were born here. For such families, the news on Jan. 8 was devastating.

“I woke up on Monday morning to a call from a friend who is terrified she’s going to be deported,” Lawton said.

Her friend is a Salvadoran with TPS whose husband is from Honduras and faces his own uncertainty because the Trump administration is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, that has allowed him to remain in the U.S. Their two children are both citizens.

The Episcopal Church regularly advocates for maintaining TPS, particularly when forcing some people to go back to their birth countries could break up families, pose threats to safety or both. General Convention approved a resolution in 2015 pledging to support Temporary Protected Status “for all immigrants fleeing for refuge from violence, environmental disaster, economic devastation, or cultural abuse or other forms of abuse.”

The church’s Office of Government Relations raised concerns about the change in policy toward Salvadorans.

“Multiple studies have demonstrated that El Salvador cannot safely repatriate nearly 200,000 individuals,” the Office of Government Relations said in a Jan. 8 statement. “El Salvador is ranked the most violent country in the Western Hemisphere and has suffered from continued natural disasters, stagnant economic growth, and a lack of infrastructure and health systems. Further, the majority of Salvadoran TPS holders are economic, cultural and social contributors to the U.S.

“Congress and the administration must devise a long-term solution for Salvadorans and others currently holding TPS that recognizes both the realities of the country’s harsh conditions and humanely addresses the realities of the individuals impacted.”

The Department of Homeland Security, in announcing the decision to end TPS for Salvadorans, said it is up to Congress to decide whether to grant long-term protections for those affected. It justified an end to temporary protections by citing the success of earthquake recovery efforts.

“Based on careful consideration of available information … the Secretary determined that the original conditions caused by the 2001 earthquakes no longer exist,” Homeland Security said in its Jan. 8 statement.

But President Donald Trump’s own State Department has acknowledged the dangers of life in El Salvador. In a travel warning issued February 2017, the State Department advised U.S. citizens “to carefully consider the risks of travel to El Salvador due to the high rates of crime and violence.” It noted the country’s homicide rate is among the highest in the world, and gang activity is “widespread.”

The Trump administration previously announced it was ending Temporary Protected Status for citizens of Sudan and Nicaragua, in addition to Haiti. For now, it remains in effect for citizens from Honduras, Nepal, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, though the administration is due to review each designation in the next year or so to determine whether to extend or terminate those protections too. The decision on Syrians is due later this month.

Anglican bishops in Central America have scheduled a meeting this month to discuss the impact of migration and repatriation in the region, including as a result of changes in American policy. The bishops will, in part, respond to “the lack of preparation to face the social effects of the migration policies of the United States government,” the Anglican Church of Mexico said.

Christian groups and denominations have joined the Episcopal Church in objecting to the elimination of TPS. A representative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement calling the Trump administration’s decision “heartbreaking.” Church World Service also put out a statement denouncing the decision.

Cristosal, an El Salvador-based human rights organization with roots in the Episcopal and Anglican churches, released a statement warning that the end of TPS will cause “unnecessary human suffering,” not just for the Salvadorans ordered to return to their native country but also for their estimated 190,000 U.S.-born children and “the many U.S. communities that depend on and benefit from migrants’ economic, cultural and social contributions.”

Elmer Romero, an Episcopalian in Houston who serves on the Cristosal board, attended a meeting on TPS held by the support group Crecen this week. The 60 to 80 Salvadorans who attended were asked how many planned to voluntarily move back to El Salvador: “No one raised their hands,” Romero told Episcopal News Service.

“There is not any type of economic development to create opportunities, especially for the youth population,” Romero said of El Salvador, and cartel- and drug-related violence is an ever-present danger.

He also disputed the Trump administration’s claim that the country, outside of its capital, has recovered from the earthquake. “If you go deep in the society, there’s still families who basically lost everything. They continue facing a lot of challenge.”

Romero, a Salvadoran-American who moved to the United States in 2000 before the earthquake, works as a program manager at Houston Center for Literacy and has been active for the past 17 years in helping immigrants and refugees find services in this country. His wife is an Episcopal priest.

He wasn’t surprised by the Trump administration decision this week, and he called it a success that Salvadorans were given 18 months before TPS expires. He is hopeful that advocates can persuade Congress to pass legislation providing permanent protection for the residents he serves. Until then, he said, they face an uncertain future, and some are considering arrangements that will allow their children to remain in the United States.

Similar arrangements are being discussed in the San Francisco area, according to Lawton, who works as a program coordinator at the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California-Berkeley.

Lawton said her church, the Diocese of California and other advocates for immigrant communities are helping to connect Salvadorans with legal representation to fight deportation and rallying for legislative solutions in the state capital and in Washington, D.C.

“We’re a sanctuary diocese. We’re a sanctuary parish. We’re doing everything we can to ensure due process for the people coming through the process,” Lawton said. “Together we lift up our voices.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.


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Comments (25)

  1. P.J. Cabbiness says:

    This was a temporary program. No permanent adjustment of status was ever affirmatively promised or implied. The temporary relief was for a specific humanitarian purpose and is no longer warranted. It is time for these foreign citizens to return to their homeland in the hope that they can assist in creating a more prosperous, safer and just society there.

  2. Judy Hoover says:

    people still get murdered there. Many of those that are being asked to return will have their lives threatened.

  3. Pamela Payne says:

    Lucky to be born in the US, huh? Who cares if people who are working, going to school, contributing to our economy and tax base and are not criminals have to go back to a gang-ridden desperate place? Whatever happened to caring for the poor, the widow and the orphan, and the alien living among you?

  4. Charles B. Allen II says:

    Is the next outrage going to be about the thousands of Haitians also told their temporary status has also ended?

  5. Tom Hester says:

    Many of the Salvadorans who fled their country, as noted in the description of a Houston resident, came to the U.S. before the earthquake. The violence that they fled, exemplified in the assassination of Archbishop Romero, was committed by a military dictatorship with U.S. backing and training and aggravated by revolutionary groups from both right and left. It was more convenient for the Bush administration and Congress to cite earthquakes than to bring up the Contras and secret payments. The United States and El Salvador share a fairly ugly history and we would do well to emphasize, rather than legalities, our esteem for one another, our commitment to justice, our care for the stranger.

  6. Anthony Oberdorfer says:

    P.J. Cabbiness is correct. Those who really should be condemned are the people (largely Democrats) who for blatantly political reasons have sought to prolong the problem by turning a generous offer of temporary sanctuary into permanent residence. Salvadorans who decided to have children here should bear the responsibility of taking them back to Salvador with them despite their American citizenship. Fairness is not the issue here, just common sense but that is a commodity lacking among many Episcopalian do-gooders these days.

  7. James Sedgwick says:

    Anthony Oberdorfer is correct, and I reiterate his approval of the remarks of P.J. Cabbiness. How has it become the mission of the church to promote a change in national immigration law to make permanent the residence of migrants who were offered a place to stay during following a natural disaster? It was a kind and generous gesture of our country to offer sanctuary to foreign persons who had become homeless while their homes (and their country) were under reconstruction. But it must be presumed that that reconstruction has been accomplished. Their remaining here now because it’s nicer in this country than the country they left renders them economic migrants, and it is not the duty of the United States to give shelter to every economic migrant who would choose to come here. To the extent that we, as Christians, have a duty to care for them, why doesn’t the church examine what the causes of the miserable conditions in El Salvador might be, and work to eliminate them?

    I am unpersuaded that deporting Salvadorans who have not normalized their status in the United States in the next twenty months will break up families: Obviously the foreign parents of children born in the United States will remain those children’s parents, and obviously the best interest of such children is to be in their parents’ custody. Isn’t so much precisely the reason Elian Gonzales, who, under our Cuba policy at the time was entitled to remain in this country, was nevertheless forced to be deported?

  8. John Miller says:

    People need to read their Bibles: God said to Israelites welcome and treat fairly the “foreigners” in your land. Since when has compassion become political? The DACA program contributed to society…and now they are being dangled by a president who calls their countries “s–t” holes.This president lacks empathy with his constant verbally bullying. shame on him.

  9. People who came from Salvador came under a program arranged during the George W. Bush administration. May be the US Congress needs to be more specific about the length of time the refugees will be allowed to stay here. There should not be a sudden end with no time for people to prepare for a transition. Nothing is being said about the large number of Polish and Irish people who came to the USA on a tourist visa which has long expired. O, wait I forgot could the reason be that the Poles and Irish are white? Whereas the Salvadorians are Latina?

  10. mike geibel says:

    Prior administrations have created the conundrum presented by TPS—not Trump. Most of the original Salvadorians were illegal aliens who were already present in the U.S. when the earthquakes struck—they did not flee here after the earthquakes. One of the requirements for TPS status was that they had to show they had been continually present in the US since March of 2001.

    TPS status kept being renewed by prior administrations and Congress. TPS status has now existed for virtually 20 years. So why didn’t they apply for citizenship during this time? The partial answer seems to be that during the time they were TPS residents, our regulations precluded from applying for a green card.

    “Temporary” does not mean permanent. But by continually renewing their TPs status for 20 years, arguably prior administrations created a “de facto” permanent residency. Common sense should have told them that if you permit people to live here for 20 years, most will become gainfully employed, raise families, send their children to American schools and essentially become absorbed into American society.

    Denouncing or demonizing Trump and his administration is not the answer—he did not create the problem. Mindlessly extending TPS under the mantra of “be kind to the sojourner,” is not the answer either. Compassion coupled with fiscal irresponsibility has saddled our children with trillion dollar deficits.

    Healthy TPS immigrants who are essentially a drain on American taxpayers should be returned to El Salvador. But what about those who are productive and self sufficient ? Congress needs to find a solution where such TPS persons are allowed to apply for citizenship, with fair requirements and conditions (such as proof of payment of taxes and a history of self support without State or Federal assistance), and a reasonable timetable to do so.

    Unfortunately, our country and Congress are so divided along partisan lines, with one side committed to “resistance” rather than compromise, nothing gets accomplished. We used to be a nation committed to the Rule of Law and guided by common sense rather than divisive labeling of Republicans as racist bullies and Democrats as looney liberals. I pray for a return to civility and compromise and doing what is best for America rather than doing what is best for your political Party.

  11. Doug Desper says:

    Compassion dictates that we discern who is in real danger and help them. It is also very clear that many refugees and immigrants are not fearing for their life, but simply want a better life. Fair enough. However, America’s children want a better life too. America’s elderly deserve more than “gas money” from a meager Social Security check. Go look at what’s laying around in America’s nursing homes and weep about why we aren’t funding the workers better under Medicaid so that they can give quality care and be paid well to break their backs lifting patients. Our own young families won’t get the handouts of a home, and a job that refugees do – they are scratching around trying to find their way. The vulnerable among our own citizenry deserve more and are not getting it because our country is running to the aid of literally dozens of countries who can’t get their act together and take care of their people. It is endless. Haiti has had more money dumped on their shores than imaginable and still they are living at bare subsistence. The Clinton Foundation supposedly raised and sent millions of dollars to Haiti and yet no one can find where it went. After decades of this the United States has begun to resemble an emaciated sow that has been suckled and drained by millions of people who are glad for the handout paid for by Americans who are increasingly being marginalized and shoved back into the shadows. Untold billions are being squandered on immigration to bring more people here when our track record of fulfilling native-born American children’s dreams (forgetting DACA), and our elderly’s hope is criminally dismal. Forget Mr. Trump and just find those videos of Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton (and his wife) stating that illegal immigration needs to stop, that unchecked immigration depletes our resources, that a border wall is needed!, and that we cannot take in unlimited refugees. Their words over the past 25 years are “out there” in the plainest of English if there were still journalists alive enough to research and point that out. However, Mr. Trump has been stuck with the blame and the time bomb that other leaders were unwilling to address.

  12. Terry Francis says:

    There are always going to be gangs and criminal organizations who hold sway in Mexico, Central America and South America. They keep the decent people that live there “in line” with intimidation, murder, torture, and rape. But having said that, the United States cannot be the automatic destination for every person who is threatened by these criminals. We are talking about countless thousands of families and individuals. Christian charity is a good thing, but we have to use common sense as well. In regards to people who are here due to natural disasters, the term Temporary Protected Status means just that: TEMPORARY. P.J. Cabbiness pointed this out perfectly. They were never meant to stay here. If they want to call the US their permanent home then they need to apply. Unfortunately anyone who points this out is immediately called unChristian, racist, intolerant and hate-filled by the progressive left. But then what else is new?

  13. Richard Basta says:

    Doug Despar..you are absolutely correct. The most compassionate thing is to assist individuals in making their home countries better. Why people cant understand what the words temporary, deferred and illegal mean is beyond belief. Christianity does not mean this Country must support unlimited and endless immigration. It means temporary assistance and then helping them become self sufficient. I’m probably pairing with a broad brush but that’s how I feel. I appreciate and accept others may feel differently.

  14. Sarah Lawton says:

    Fixing our broken immigration system will mean going beyond the simplistic solutions that some commenters here seem to want to impose. There are reasons both for foreign policy and domestic that presidents of both parties renewed TPS many times. While I don’t agree with all of the views laid out here, at all, here is a perspective from two GOP presidential candidates on why TPS should be renewed.

    Even aside from humanitarian concerns about separating families and sending hundreds of thousands of people back to violent and unstable counties — issues about which Christians should rightly be concerned — the fact is that our country needs immigrants now more than ever as the Baby Boom reaches retirement. TPS holders of all nationalities have been subjected to multiple background checks and have paid multiple rounds of expensive fees to keep their status. They tend to be employed at higher rates and are less likely to be arrested or convicted of crimes than than the native-born population. As Jeb Bush and John Kasich say in this op-Ed, it’s hard to imagine an immigrant group that should be a lower focus as an immigration target, maybe other than the Dreamers.

    But our president is using them as a bargaining chip. Or maybe he’s just racist through and through, and doesn’t want anyone here who isn’t as white as the snow in Norway. I hope people on both sides of the aisle will call it out for what it is and work for real solutions for our country and for the sake of these families who do not deserve to be terrified and persecuted for the sake of racial bullying on a mass scale.

    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/opinion/kasich-bush-immigration-salvadorans.html?referer=

  15. Bill Louis says:

    I am a Baby Boomer and I find your comment offensive. I have children and grandchildren that will be looking for jobs that they will need to support their families once we are gone. Why do we need to give those jobs away to immigrants or worse yet have my children work to support those that have no skills or anything else to offer but to be a drag on our resources,
    As for separating families, there is always a choice for them to follow the family back to their country of origin and take the skills they have gained here to make their own country a better place to live. My children are law abiding and have never been arrested like so how is that an argument to retain non-citizens here in our country. I suppose not agreeing with your point of view makes me a racist, the name that others of your opinions use when we do not see things your way.

  16. mike geibel says:

    Dear Ms. Lawton:
    Your post was starting to sound persuasive, right up until you played the racist card. If the facts and merits support renewal of TPS, there would be no need to punctuate them with name calling.

  17. Kenneth Knapp says:

    I don’t know enough about immigration policy to have an opinion, but reading this thread leaves me with the impression that the church does not speak with one voice on this topic and I don’t think that we need to. We live in a representative democracy and we should express our opinions to our elected representatives if we feel strongly about an issue. There is room in the church for both Republicans and Democrats (as well as those of us who don’t belong to a party) so we should avoid expressing our opinions as if they were the opinion of the church or the only acceptable opinion for a Christian to hold.

  18. Tony Oberdorfer says:

    To Kenneth Knapp: You sound like a decent person but I’m troubled by your commentary because it suggests that you really don’t care about our immigration policy. I would agree with the implication of your last sentence that the church has no right to mandate a single “acceptable” Christian opinion on the important political issue of immigration which is exactly what the Episcopal Church hierarchy has been doing. But since over the years immigration policy has proven to be the single greatest determinant of any country’s future political evolution, it is important for any conscientious voter to consider the issue. There are many fine books and articles dealing with immigration but expressing our opinions to our elected representatives won’t solve the problem given that most politicians of all parties ultimately act solely in their own personal interest. That is why Democrats are so eager to encourage unrestricted immigration because they know that the vast majority of new migrants will become lifelong supporters of the party which promises the most free handouts. Since so many “traditionalist” Episcopalians are with good reason leaving the church, the powers that be in the church are desperate to recruit replacements and they find them among new migrants, legal or otherwise, and pretend that acting like a welfare organization is in the long-run best interest of our country. You may feel differently, Kenneth, but at least you should show interest in the matter.

  19. Sarah Lawton says:

    Mike Giebel, facts and merits as recognized by both Democrats and Republicans support TPS renewal, as shown by the fact that both GW Bush and Obama consistently renewed it, and as said by two GOP leaders in the op-Ed I posted above. TPS holders of all nationalities have undergone multiple background checks and are, in high numbers, employed, paying taxes, and contributing to our communities as PTA leaders, church members, soccer coaches, and more. For example, 88% of Salvadorans with TPS are gainfully employed, and that group includes the elderly–far higher rates of employment than native-born Americans. It’s a mistake to think they are “taking jobs” from others too, in our current full-employment economy, especially in the large cities where most of them live and work, and with the wave of Boomer retirements upon us that will be driving the long-term and health care industries for decades to come. Anyway, economics is not a zero-sum game, and these workers are also driving the economy with their spending. We need immigrants to work and to pay into our tax base lest we end up in a demographic upside-down situation like some other counties such as Japan that have long limited immigration.

    As for deporting our own kids, US citizens, with their parents to countries they have never visited, to speak a language many of them don’t know well, to countries such as Honduras and El Salvador that are among the most violent in the world, with violence especially aimed at teenagers (gang recruitment and sexual assault)? To countries that were destabilized in part by wars funded by the USA? To countries that have no means of absorbing this many people? This is a bad idea as foreign policy and also on humanitarian grounds. Many families will make the hard choice to leave their US citizen children here for a better education and physical safety rather than face gang recruitment or sexual assault. Any of us might make that hard choice as parents. But it will leave these American children without their parents. How is separating our kids from their parents good for our country’s health? That’s bad domestic policy and it is also morally wrong to force families to make these choices.

    As for the “race card,” whatever that is. I heard what the president said on Thursday about “shithole” countries and wanting immigrants instead from countries like Norway. He said those things. What he said was racist. His worldview is racist. His words are antithetical to the Christian understanding that in Christ there is no Jew nor Greek, but beloved children of God, and we have an obligation as Christians to say that–this MLK weekend of course, and every day of the year. Revoking DACA and TPS–for no good policy reason–is racist bullying that is causing great distress among immigrant families in my life and community, and I make no apologies for speaking that truth.

    Fixing the immigration system will be hard. The president’s revocation of TPS and DACA has made that task infinitely harder. We do have a wide spectrum of political views in The Episcopal Church. We also have a voice in General Convention, which has spoken strongly and repeatedly on the moral and humanitarian issues at stake in immigration policy – we have spoken these points to Democrats and Republicans, because this system has been broken for a long time. When our church leaders speak up, they are relying on those statements and resolutions as well on Scripture’s call to welcome the stranger and to expand our understanding of tribe and neighbor. That’s not partisan. It may be uncomfortable, but that is the way of Jesus, the life into which we were all baptized.

  20. Terry Francis says:

    Sarah Lawton, yes our immigration system is broken, but is your “solution” to the problem open borders and complete abandonment of our sovereignty? Just wondering.

  21. Sarah Lawton says:

    Terry Francis, there’s a fair bit of space for debate in between the extremes of Trump’s revocation of DACA / TPS and “complete abandonment of sovereignty.”

    I support comprehensive reform, which will include most of the ~ 11 million folks currently here being allowed to stay and to get on a pathway to residency and citizenship. That’s sensible policy – and note that Republican leaders Bush and Kasich said more or less the same in their op-Ed. We have a full-employment economy, and most of these folks are already employed in high numbers, and have low levels of crime, relative to the population at large. They have American children. Like all immigrants before them, they have become / are becoming Americans. We need them and they are here.

    In tandem with immigration reform, our country should develop an actual industrial / labor market policy – something we haven’t had for at least a generation and a half (which was why NAFTA was so harmful to certain communities in the Midwest). We should be studying the potential effects of new technologies on the labor market, as well the necessary transition to a clean energy economy; and also look at the growing needs in the health care and long-term care fields and how to stabilize that workforce. The main issue isn’t lack of jobs but loss of job quality since 1980 or so, so part of the push should be to strengthen workers’ voices and rights.

    Germany is an imperfect but still good example of a country with an industrial policy. Unions have a seat at the table in the boardroom, and bargaining happens sectorally rather than firm by firm. They’ve been able to preserve their high-value manufacturing sector and still invest as country in their labor force through universal health care and education, generous family leave, and vocational / apprenticeships and university.

    Another thing we should be doing side by side with immigration reform is to support efforts to stabilize countries such as El Salvador and Honduras. Our foreign and trade policies have contributed to their problems today, so we should contribute to measures to strengthen their local economies and democratic institutions. The history goes back decades and is another long story, but there are efforts today by groups such as Cristosal (whose leaders are quoted in the original article here) to push for policies there to reduce the violence and provide solutions for internally displaced people.

    An issue in our present and future is climate change migration. It’s too late to stop climate change, but we can try to mitigate its worst effects. Many experts believe we are already seeing climate migrants as the conflicts in the Middle East have been partly driven by devastating drought – but it will become more intense and there will be a global climate refugee crisis that we hand to our children. Climate change mitigation and transition to clean energy should be a top policy policy (and can also be a jobs policy if we do it right).

    Bottom line, I don’t think, for many reasons, that we should give up sovereignty. I do think we have room to receive more refugees on humanitarian grounds than we already do – we are fairly stingy given our economy and space, compared to other wealthy countries. Having an industrial policy will also show us that we need immigrant labor, both skilled and unskilled, in the future. But speaking as a Christian – I will argue for the humanitarian response as well as the economic one.

  22. Terry Roberts says:

    Sarah Lawton.. I too am extremely offended by your comments on President Trump, calling him a racist. President Trump is in support of Daca as long as it comes with border protection and merit based immigration, etc. Other countries like Canada and Great Britain have this. If you took the time to research it instead of repeating the main stream media hype, you would see that he is compassionate, wants the best for our country, safety for our citizens, and is not at all a racist! A while back Democrats like Pelosi an Schumer were for this too. I am so tired of seeing our Episcopal Church being hijacked by people with political agendas. We are losing membership because of this. What happened to preaching Christ and the Scriptures? American’s get constantly bombarded by politics from the media and now we have to listen to this through our place of worship! This is why we have elections, a President, Congress ,a Supreme Court and laws. Please keep your “social justice” out of my religion! In my opinion,there is only ONE race in the world and that is the Human Race, created by our Lord. What you advocate for is division!

  23. What does it mean to be a good Christian and a good American? It means not being offended by anyone else’s opinion of present or former presidents. I personally am offended by the words and actions of our current Commander-in-chief and many of his predecessors. But I never bring that into the sacred space of Christian community.

    In order to be a good Christian and Episcopalian, you must do your best at your job to keep ethical standards in your profession, honor your spouse and love them plus care for your children with love. Then you must read and study local, national and foreign issues. It is senseless to get your news from FOX and CNN. They are both biased. Neither have Fake News but their spin is so exaggerated that it is not that useful. Watch for entertainment only. View C-SPAN instead. It is boring but you are able to hear members of Congress speak without a news reporter telling you what they said. I know what they said, you know what they said, we don’t need news anchors to tell us how to think.

    Very important is to read your local newspaper and others such as The Washington Post, New York Times, even The Christian Science Monitor which is very independent. You can read what Breitbart is up to and it may be shocking. A good American can also read Time Magazine and other weekly news if your schedule cannot fit in so many hours. However, to live in a representative democracy you must stay informed about the world and our country in order to vote intelligently. Written news is the most reliable as it captures a moment in time and is permanently recorded. All major news events we learn of now are via cell phone media or radio but are not permanently recorded. So, the number one issue facing America today is newspapers closing down or bought out; news only on the internet gives us no recorded history of events. The second top issue is the amount of time and education needed to become a good American citizen.

    As for immigration, all of my ancestors were immigrants. Some had it easy and came before 1776 and some came after. Some could not vote, especially all the females. The first ladies in my family to vote had to pass a test and have a driver’s license ID. One of my grandmother’s did get her license but only went to 4th grade and was afraid to take the test. My mother was the first woman in my family to vote. Most of her family came to the USA in 1768. She had a license as do I, however someone stole my identity with my biometric features from a data breach where I work. I am not worried about 700,000 DACA kids out of over 300 billion people in this country. I am worried the one person who will come into America with my name and fingerprints as a terrorist. So, the third major issue in this country is Identity theft of living people. The fourth major issue in this country is Identity theft of deceased people.

    As you can tell from my writings, my issues are not funded, nor discussed by any political party. Yet, millions of Americans would agree with me.

    This is one of the few times I have ever responded to an online forum like this. I support the Episcopal Church’s position on the current issues of our times. But, I did feel like some comments were mean and some people were being attacked unfairly, instead of talking about the issues. My statements imply that there may actually be other more pressing issues such as how and where we get our news and whether the immigration argument should be about giving people citizenship who have been here legally for decades vs preventing terrorists from coming into America usually through illegal means.

  24. mike geibel says:

    There is a disturbing incivility in our national discourse. We are all to blame for using or accepting name-calling as the new “norm” and for failing to object to hateful speech, whether that hate-speech comes from politicians, clergy or parishioners. We are witness to politicians, media types and even the Church substituting insults for reasoned persuasion.

    According to the Church’s Executive Council’s proclamation AN307 on immigration, all Americans and members of the Church who support enforcement of our immigration laws and a border wall are “reprehensible racists.” Many members may cheer, but others are rightfully offended. Those Americans whom the Executive Council labels as “reprehensible racists,” probably supported Donald Trump not because they admire his vulgarity, but because they have lost hope and trust in their elected officials to enforce the Nation’s laws and to act for the benefit of Americans.

    The biblical command to love the sojourner does not by itself establish how many refugees or immigrants a country should let in, who should be let in, or from where. It is not “racist” to oppose open borders, sanctuary proclamations, and the harboring of violent criminals from federal law enforcement officers. It is not “reprehensible” to expect former and present Presidents to enforce our federal laws. Each one of them put their hand on the Bible and took an oath to do so—not to selectively enforce only those laws they liked and to ignore those they found disagreeable. If immigration laws are unjust, then change the laws.

    We are often influenced by the stories we want or believe to be true, and “truth” is not to be found in the op-ed of a newspaper or during the nightly vitriolic rants of media commentators. I don’t believe that Christ tried to transform hearts and minds with insults, name-calling or denunciations of the emperor.

  25. mike geibel says:

    From the new Bishop Brian Cole:

    “My hope is that the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee would be humble and smart.
    People open to being humble and smart are the kind of people who can bear the long work of reconciliation in a divided time. It doesn’t take much to divide people. In fact, division comes from the opposite of being humble and smart …

    “When we encounter where the church has been arrogant and ignorant, we need to seek repentance from each other. When we encounter arrogance and ignorance in our society, our response is not to shout louder or to respond in kind. It is to be humble and smart.”

    “Voices that call for common ground are drowned out by louder cries to divide and to demonize and to degrade. So all the more important is our witness to be a place for connection and communion where division and differences can be reconciled in Christ.”

    What a welcome voice—an Episcopal Bishop who finally gets it.

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