There is a nonviolent uprising around immigration happening in Philadelphia and a dozen other US cities. Faith leaders announced this week they are building a movement of “sanctuary congregations” and have dreams that the US will one-day be a sanctuary nation.
We join them in insisting that we must obey the laws of God over the laws of our government — and that means “welcoming the foreigner as if they were our own flesh and blood.” (Exodus 22:21, Lev.19:34).
Jesus says that when we welcome the stranger we welcome him. When God asks: “When I was a stranger did you welcome me?” (Mt. 25)… we are not going to say: “Sorry God, Congress wouldn’t let us.”
We know that sometimes divine obedience can mean civil disobedience.
As St. Augustine said: “An unjust law is no law at all.”
Some Christians will ask, But what about Romans 13 where Paul says we must “submit to the authorities”? To that we say with Martin Luther King and the early Christians who went to jail (including Paul himself) — submission does not always mean obedience.
There are two ways to submit. One way is by obeying the good laws.
The other way is by respectfully disobeying the bad laws. That’s how we put the bad laws on trial… and change them.
So this week, dozens of faith leaders made this announcement:
On Wednesday, September 24, 2014, New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia joined a dozen cities nation-wide in announcing that our member congregations will provide physical sanctuary to immigrant families with final deportation orders. We defy President Obama’s inhumane immigration policies by moving families into three of our member congregations, the Philadelphia Praise Center, a Mennonite congregation in South Philadelphia, Tikkun Olam Chavurah, a Germantown-based Jewish community, and West Kensington Ministry in North Philadelphia.
Immigrant families will move into our member congregations and refuse to leave in a faith-driven civil disobedience against mass deportation. This act of civil disobedience fights the individual case and highlights the injustice of current immigration law. Check outwww.sanctuary2014.org to learn more about the nation-wide movement for sanctuary.
Pastor Aldo of the Philadelphia Praise Center, a Sanctuary congregation, says, “We answer God’s call by opening our church to bring hope to people in need.”
Rabbi Linda of Tikkun Olam Chavurah, a Sanctuary congregation, led 50 members in a Jewish Rosh Hashanah (New Year) ritual. She says, “Rosh Hashanah starts the New Year with your eyes fully open, able to bring greater justice to your journey in life.” Rabbi Linda shared that many Jewish people in the U.S. are immigrants or children of immigrants, and only survived because others were willing to take them in during the Holocaust.
Teresa, a NSM member at Visitation BVM Parish, says, “The decision of President Obama to postpone his Executive Action and stop deportations violates our faith values to love our fellow human beings, to welcome the stranger and act justly. He has deported more than two million people. We can wait no longer.”
Gerardo of Visitation BVM Church adds that Sanctuary “sends the message that we are creating a world where our families are sacred and we are willing to give everything to lift up these immigrant families with hope, justice, and faith.”
We demand that President Obama use his Executive Power to end all deportations without exception and create a country of Sanctuary – where all are safe, respected, and welcomed, and where economic, spiritual, and emotional wholeness are realized.
“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”
“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
JOIN THE NEW SANCTUARY MOVEMENT.
WELCOME A STRANGER AS GOD HAS WELCOMED ALL OF US.