tags: Press Releases

National Faith Leaders Launch “Tour of the Faithful”

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National Movement to Mobilize Constituencies, Stand Up for Immigration Reform

A diverse group of national faith leaders, including Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Jim Ryan, Council Executive, Colorado Council of Churches, and The Most Reverend Bishop John C. Wester, Archdiocese of Salt Lake City and Chair of Committee on Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced the “Tour of the Faithful” today. The tour will consist of a national month of action, and will feature 17 events organized by religious groups of various faiths from coast to coast who will be calling for reform to our broken immigration system. 

On a telephonic press call earlier today, the leaders discussed the growing movement and mobilization of people of faith in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez said, “The Elephant in the room as it pertains to the 2008 Elections is Immigration Reform. Both parties have succeeded in hiding this crucial issue under the canopy of a Don’t ask Don’t Tell Policy . Faith communities today stand as the last firewall against the Trojan Horse carrying xenophobia, nativism and apathy. We cannot stay silent while families are separated, children suffer and raids motivated by political expediency proliferate in American society. We stand committed with America’s Voice to facilitate platforms across America where this issue will be front and center as we serve to reconcile our communities, justice, the rule of law and our faith values.”

Bishop John C. Wester called on candidates and elected officials to demonstrate the moral courage to support reform that respects the God-given dignity of all people, saying, “Immigration is a pressing domestic concern and deserves special attention from the presidential candidates and our elected officials.  Enforcement-only initiatives, like workplace raids, and anti-immigrant rhetoric create fear in immigrant communities and do little to solve the problem of illegal immigration.  They also lessen us as a nation.”

Rev. Dr. Jim Ryan added, “The faith community has said for years that the federal (state) budget is a moral document. It reflects the values and priorities of our society. I would add that our country’s immigration laws and policies are moral/theological statements. They reflect our attitude toward and treatment of  a select group of God’s children. Our present policies do not reflect an understanding of the sacred humanity of every immigrant.”

Adding a historical context, Rabbi David Saperstein commented, “In addition to our historic experience, our tradition also demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. The Torah contains over 36 references to this principle, including Leviticus’ command, ‘When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt’ [19:33-34].”

As Election Day nears, hateful rhetoric towards immigrants remains commonplace and large-scale immigration raids are tearing immigrant families apart and terrorizing their communities.  People of faith across the theological spectrum are increasingly standing up against these dehumanizing tactics and in favor of an America consistent with our best values.