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Interfaith Coalition Launches "Prayer, Renewal and Action on Immigration" Campaign
Five faith leaders, including Unitarian Universalist (UU) minister Rev. John Crestwell, joined with members of Congress at a press conference on February 11, 2009, to announce the Interfaith Immigration Coalition's campaign, "Prayer, Renewal, and Action on Immigration."
The campaign is designed to engage and educate congregations and people of faith on the immigration reform debate. Its kick-off event will be a national week of grassroots action during the first congressional break, when members of Congress return to their home districts from February 13th to February 22nd.
Joining Rev. Crestwell at the press conference were Rev. Jim Wallis, Rabbi David Saperstein, Bishop Minerva Carcaño, and Sister Eilieen Campbell. Representatives Gutierrez and Honda also spoke.
- Visit the Interfaith Immigration Coalition website to see more coverage of the press conference and a copy of the Interfaith Immigration Platform.
- Visit the UUA Advocacy & Witness blog, Inspired Faith, Effective Action, for more information about the national week of grassroots action.
- See below for Rev. John Crestwell's remarks, and visit the Christian Broadcasting Network for a video clip of Rev. Crestwell.
Statement at Press Conference
Rev. John T Crestwell,
February 11, 2009
I am here because I believe in the worth and dignity of all human beings. I am here because we are at a unique time in our history, at a precipice, and our destiny is in our hands. I know many faces around the world are watching us. How will we model democracy for the world? That is the question. Will we begin to choose policies that embrace instead of erase? Will we put into law ideas that create the "we are together reality" or "us against them mentality? Will we move toward a people oriented society instead of a thing oriented society.
The decisions made around immigration impacts our American legacy, greatly. But more than that, it impacts the lives of so, so many.
The Englishman William Blake wrote in the 19th Century: "Can I see another's woe, and not be in sorrow too? Can I see another's grief and not seek for kind relief? Can I see a falling tear, and not feel my sorrow's share? No, no never can it be! Never, never can it be!"
The current immigration system undercuts the values of equality and compassion that are shared among many religious traditions and which form the heart of the American Dream. Right now, we have in this country an underclass of people denied basic human rights. Living in daily fear of separation from their families here in the U.S., undocumented immigrants have few of the freedoms that we consider fundamental to American democracy.
As long as undocumented people are marginalized and exploited, people of faith will continue to advocate for immigrant rights. We will do this not only by serving as individual witnesses, but also by working together in the thousands of congregations represented here today to urge passage of comprehensive immigration reform.
There is hope for a new day for immigrant families. President Barack Obama has made immigration reform one of his top priorities. But there will be many competing visions of how America should move forward, especially in this time of economic hardship. As people of faith, we affirm once again that prosperity and freedom go hand-in-hand. In this new era of possibility and of challenge, we must advance the timeless vision of a society based on equality and compassion for all people. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper said so well, and may we not forget, "We are all tied in a single bundle of humanity." Let it be so.