taking the words of Jesus seriously

Faith Leaders Lament the Muslim Travel Ban

Rev. Dr. Jacqui J. Lewis (Senior Minister of Middle Collegiate Church, Manhattan)

My rabbi, Jesus, once encouraged his crestfallen followers, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they will be comforted.” Jesus, who has come to be known as Christ, spoke these words to a grieving people, to an oppressed people, to a people occupied by the Roman Empire, which maintained a so-called “peace” with violence and the blatant disregard for brown bodies that were not Roman citizens.

So many of us are deeply mourning this Supreme Court decision. And, as our Muslim brothers and sister suffer soul-death at the hands of the highest court in our land; as the racist and xenophobic policies of this administration are upheld, and therefore sanctioned; I also feel outraged. I feel as though the Supreme Court has kicked us in the stomach. And so, I can only imagine the waves of grief washing over Muslim Americans. Faithful. Gifted. Citizens. Our neighbors. Our colleagues. Our teachers, police, veterans, physicians.

These policies, we must be clear, are part of a systematic, unrelenting, pernicious campaign to, once again, strive to make America white. Cruelty at our southern borders; caging human beings in urban jails and in detention centers; the state-sanctioned murders of Black and Brown men, women, and children; and banning Muslims — all of this, filled with hate and derision — must be named for what it is, and fought with all of the revolutionary love we can mobilize.

As my beloved friend Ruby Sales says, we must name this evil programme: religious and ethnic cleansing.

We have been here before; we know what this hatred looks and smells like. We know the deep pathology of the haters. We know their hatred brings soul death to our friends and families. And we know this hatred also rots the heart of the perpetrator.

Blessings to you, my Muslim friends, colleagues and family. Peace to you. Assalamu ‘Alaikum. We must also connect the dots between these SCOTUS decisions, and the ways they are eroding human rights. We must take our dissatisfaction to the polls, voting out the haters, and electing officials who share the ways we value each human life. Our grief is prophetic; we know that even as we mourn, even in our frustration, we must never forget the unbelievable power we have when good people of moral courage bind our hearts and wills together to make America free, really free, at last.

And to all of us, let’s DO this! Let’s grieve, let’s act, let’s make America free.

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III (Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago)

This tragic moment in our nation highlights our need as a country to regain our moral compass and use the template of the “Beloved Community” highlighted by our nation’s greatest moral witness, Martin Luther King Jr. The ill-conceived ban on certain Arabic speaking countries and the Supreme Court upholding this poorly structured policy speaks not of America first, but of compassion last.

Future generations will not judge us by expensive walls built for political gain, but by the bridges we erect to create a democracy where we shall speak to the world the once sacred words of our democracy:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me…”

This is the America we must yearn to be — not a country of Muslim bans, but a nation that still honors the torch of lady liberty.

Noel Castellanos (President of Christian Community Development Association)

The only appropriate response to the Supreme Court Muslim Ban decision is deep sorrow and moral outrage. As a follower of Christ and minister of the Good News, this is truly bad news.



Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS (Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign)

My heart is broken, and I am outraged by the Supreme Court decision upholding President Trump’s callous policy against our Muslim community.

This decision exists in sharp juxtaposition to the recent ruling on Masterpiece Cakeshop. When local officials made comments about conservative religious beliefs, they were called biased, and it was deemed unconstitutional. In contrast, President Trump has made disparaging remarks about the Muslim community, and his administration has enacted discriminatory policy based specifically on religious affiliation. Yet, the Supreme Court failed to find discrimination, and the policy was deemed constitutional. This is wrong.

With this decision, the Supreme Court is endorsing President Trump’s dangerous religious bigotry. These attacks on the Muslim faith go against our nation’s founding principles of religious freedom. This is yet another illustration of marginalization in our nation’s history, and we must change our course.

As people of faith, the Catholic Sisters and activists of NETWORK Lobby will act in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers. We will resist.

Brian McLaren (Author/Activist)

The Supreme Court’s decision is one deep and dangerous step downward toward a betrayal of our global standing, our nation’s morals, and our highest spiritual values. Let’s take this critical moment in history to become the nation we claim by strengthening our commitment to an America with equal justice for all people. No exceptions.



Valarie Kaur, Esq. (Founder of the Revolutionary Love Project)

History will remember this decision as among the most shameful rulings in the history of the Supreme Court: It upholds a ban that indefinitely separates U.S. citizens from their Muslim families. It sends a message to the world that America will discriminate against entire groups of people based on their faith. It emboldens the Trump administration to continue policies that enact cruelty, racism, and xenophobia toward immigrants and refugees at the border and our airports. And it fuels the fires of hate against communities like mine.

Historically, every time the government has enacted policies that demonize entire groups of people, hate crimes go up. Today hate crimes against Muslim and Sikh Americans are the highest they have been since 9/11. State violence is always tethered to hate violence, and now there’s no end in sight.

But we can learn from history. We are not bystanders. In the face of every unconscionable policy or ruling, we the people rose up and fought for the soul of America. When my Sikh grandfather saw his Japanese Americans neighbors rounded up and sent to camps, he looked after their farms while they were incarcerated and traveled to the desert to see them, as if to say: “I’m here for you, and I’m not going away. We’re going to outlast this.” In the face of every injustice in U.S. history, there were people who carried out acts of #RevolutionaryLove. That’s what we are called to do today.

Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder (Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries)

This Supreme Court decision is painful for all who seek justice and love mercy. The real task is to remain in the struggle and not to despair to the point of surrendering to feelings of helplessness and impotence. If this President is empowered by his office to make decisions that alienate, the next president is empowered to unmake those decisions. That makes this SCOTUS decision a usable blessing. Onward to the polls!

I come from a people who don’t give up. I serve with a people who don’t give up. I would love to send the words YOU ARE SAFE HERE out to all our networks as a collective response to the colonialist racism and fascism being perpetrated by this country.

We Stand Together.

The Rev. Raphael Gamaliel Warnock, Ph.D. (Senior Pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta, GA)

A very sad day in America.  We stand with all of our Muslim sisters and brothers and against all who would enshrine and canonize bigotry into law.  God give us wisdom and courage for this hour.


Lisa Sharon Harper (President and Founder of Freedom Road LLC)

The U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the Trump Administration’s travel ban on majority-Muslim nations strikes at the heart of the very identity of our nation. The first settlers on New England shores fled religious persecution. Centuries later our nation’s founders built a firewall against the corruption of faith through government intrusion or prohibition. They called that firewall the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Ours became the first nation in the world to ban the establishment of state religion, and our democracy is rich with faith because of it.

Perhaps worse than the Court’s failure to protect a most fundamental right within our democracy is the message this ruling sends to our Muslims neighbors at home and abroad. Law and policy serve as sacred documents for the secular world; reflecting back to society what it believes are good and just ways to live together in the world. What message does it send to our Muslim neighbors, many of whom are fleeing persecution, when U.S. law declares that it is fine to break families and purge people groups and let them die based on fear of the other? What message does it send when the protection of human dignity is preserved for some and revoked from others? This is the message: U.S. law only cares about some — not all. This is not a democracy. We are not who we say we are.

And what does it say when the majority of people supporting this profound government exclusion of religion claim Christian faith? It says this: The forebears of our faith would renounce us.

Rev. Traci D. Blackmon (Executive Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ)

A little over 50 years ago, while caged in a Birmingham jail, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King penned these words to White Southern Pastors who were uncomfortable with Dr. King’s presence and public outcry for justice: “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one
has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

The evils of racism and Islamophobia have been given fertile breeding ground by an administration that seeks the solidification of power with the targeted separation of the “other.” Since December, we have lived with the egregious Muslim Ban that seeks to demonize our loved ones, family, and friends based on a false interpretation of a peaceful faith. We will not succumb to such lies and false illusions of fear.

As people of faith, we understand that God has no “other” and the immorality of such acts are not made righteous by the legalization of them. In such matters, we stand with our kindred in the Abrahamic faith. We stand with the teachings of our sacred text. We stand with the God who is God of all.

Stosh Cotler (CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action)

Our hearts are broken by the Supreme Court decision on the Muslim Ban, which we believe will be remembered in history alongside Dred Scott, Korematsu, and other cases where the highest court in the land failed to deliver justice.

Scapegoating people of one religion, restricting their travel, separating families across international borders — the Jewish community has seen this before, and we must raise our voices now. We know that this policy of discrimination is part of this Administration’s larger effort to target Muslim people, surveil their communities, turn them away from our country, and deny them professional opportunities and access to their families. History will judge this ruling harshly.

We move forward with heavy hearts, but also with full resolve and commitment to continue working alongside our Muslim allies to resist these authoritarian measures and defend the core American principle of religious freedom and fairness to all. We must continue to mobilize to elect a Congress that will hold this Administration accountable and will act as a meaningful check on executive actions based in bigotry.

Jennifer Butler (Former Chair of the White House Council on Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships and Founding Director of Faith in Public Life)

The Supreme Court’s decision is shameful and immoral. No one should be denied entry to this country because of the color of their skin, the language they speak, or how they pray. My faith teaches me that all are created sacred in God’s image and should be treated equitably. Banning a group of people because of how they worship is unacceptable. Communities of faith remain committed to fighting the Muslim ban and working to build an inclusive country that does not engage in discrimination.


Rabbi Jill Jacobs (Executive Director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights)

This discriminatory executive order, which continues to effectively close our borders to Muslims, flagrantly violates America’s longstanding, values-driven commitment to serving as a safe haven for refugees and immigrants. Masked as an effort to ensure national security, this third executive order is more of the same Islamophobia that targets Muslims by reinstating the discredited vetting procedures, established after September 11, 2001, aimed at men from Muslim-majority countries. The intent of the new ban is the same as the previous bans — to keep out people from Muslim-majority countries, even from Syria and Yemen from which millions of refugees are simply seeking safety for their families.

Last year, 19 T’ruah rabbis were arrested outside the Trump International Hotel protesting the original ban. Our network of 2,000 rabbis will not stop protesting this ban, in any form, until it is canceled for good.

As Jews, who know what it means to be targeted by discriminatory laws, we stand firmly with refugees fleeing war, persecution, and economic strife. For many in our American Jewish community, witnessing these refugees and immigrants, and the nativist backlash against them, reminds us of the experience of many of our own families who arrived on America’s shores in the early 20th century. The passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, a law aimed at keeping the United States free of immigrant populations deemed to be “suspicious” or “dangerous,” including Jews, Italians, and Asians, led to disastrous consequences when many who might otherwise have immigrated here perished in the Holocaust.

On more than 36 occasions the Torah declares that our experience as strangers in the land of Egypt obligates us to care for the most vulnerable among us; particularly the sojourners, migrants, and immigrants seeking refuge in our midst. Abraham and Sarah, who welcomed three unknown travelers into their home, modeled hachnasat orchim —welcoming guests — which the Talmud declared to be even more important than speaking to God. And the reviled tribe of Amalek achieved its wicked status in the annals of Jewish history by attacking the most vulnerable of the Israelites fleeing Egypt.

We are proud that so many of T’ruah’s 2,000 rabbis are following the example of Abraham and Sarah by standing in solidarity with immigrants and refugees, including the Muslim, Arab, and Asian communities most directly affected by this executive order.

The Jewish community understands all too well the danger of compromising the civil liberties of any national, ethnic or religious group, or of holding entire groups collectively responsible for the actions of individuals. America is great when we unite around the aspirational values of inclusion, tolerance and freedom, as well as when we welcome immigrants and refugees, who have made countless contributions to every single aspect of this country’s greatness. The Muslim Ban undermines our values and weakens the moral fiber upon which our nation stands.

Rabbi Sharon Brous (Founding Rabbi of IKAR)

Right after the election, a group of LA clergy gathered at the Islamic Center. Most of the clergy there were Latino. A mosque representative greeted guests saying: “YOU ARE SAFE HERE. We will wrap our arms of love and protection around you.”

Over the past year, this holy fellowship has lovingly stood with and for each other. This matters more now than it ever has before. Know that we will continue to wrap our arms of love and protection around you.


Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson (President of Auburn Seminary)

We at Auburn Seminary are dismayed by the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Trump Administration’s unjust and immoral Muslim travel ban. The ruling violates our democracy’s core value of religious freedom and promises to further marginalize Muslims, who are already under assault. America is great because of the diversity among those who call this country home, as well as the exchange with others globally who share the values of justice and peace. Just because the ban on Muslims has been declared legal does not mean it is moral or righteous.

Attacks on Muslims not only weaken our country in the eyes of others around the globe, but violate the tenets of faith to love the neighbor and exercise welcome and hospitality toward the stranger. Violating these values weakens our relationship with God. We believe that all people are created equal before God and that our lives and all life are inextricably interwoven. We belong to one other and are called to protect the dignity and humanity of all people, including our Muslim sisters and brothers.

All people of faith must summon the moral leadership to stand with Muslims and work against anti-Islamic bigotry, attacks, and hateful rhetoric. Faith leaders across religious traditions must stand with Muslims and against this ban. We must pursue an inclusive loving worldview, united in one belief: We are all God’s children.

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