The Rev. Canon Dr. Ellen Clark-King, Executive Pastor at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, has made an astute connection between mandated reporting and the child detention crisis at the border.
Mandated reporters —clergy, social workers, teachers, doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, law enforcement officers and other professional groups—are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. Clark-King considered that while clergy, along with concerned lay people, have acted on the moral and theological imperative to speak out on the immigration crisis, as a cleric and hence a mandated reporter, she is also legally required to report suspected child abuse and neglect taking place at the border. She conceived a letter to government officials that clergy and other mandated reporters could sign, and posted it on the cathedral’s website on Wednesday, June 26.
Since then, over 1,400 mandated reporters, including many Episcopal clergy from across the country, have signed the letter. The Rt. Rev.Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, was the first to sign. Yesterday, representatives from Andrus’ office and Clark-King attended a meeting at the San Francisco office of Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi on child detention at the border. Clark-King, who is Canon for Social Justice at Grace Cathedral as well as Executive Pastor, and the Diocese of California are working with faith and community leaders to continue advocating for the children being held in inhumane conditions. Her post and letter appear below:
Many of us have been watching the detention of children and adults at our southern border with growing disgust and despair. Here is one way for those of us who are clergy to respond and try to influence public and government opinion in the direction of ending this outrage.
The following letter will be sent to The Department of Homeland Security, to Senator Feinstein and to the President:
The horrific spectacle of children being separated from their parents, detained, and held in deplorable conditions is shaming our nation in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of God. This has to stop.
We the undersigned are clergy and lay leaders from across religious faiths who are mandated reporters of child abuse, and thus legally required to report such behavior to the relevant authorities. We would therefore be remiss in our civil as well as our religious duty if we did not draw your attention to this unlawful neglect and abuse of minors in the detention centers on our southern border.
Our humanity is outraged at this treatment carried out by our own country. Let us know what steps you will be taking as a public servant to rectify this immoral state of affairs.
If you, a clergy or lay mandated reporter are willing to add your name in your role as a mandated reporter of child abuse please do so by following this link. If you have questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org. And please share widely!
Signatures by clergy and other mandated reporters continue to be welcomed at gracecathedral.org/protecting-children-border/.