Unitarian Universalists to Offer Sanctuary in Defiance of President-Elect Trump’s Immigration Proposals
In the wake of President-Elect Donald Trump’s proposals to deport two to three million undocumented immigrants in the United States, Unitarian Universalists (UU) are gearing up to fight back and protect this vulnerable population by providing sanctuary wherever necessary.
Since the November election, an additional three UU congregations have declared that they will be sanctuary congregations: All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, D.C., Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, MN, and White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church in Mahtomedi, MN. Other UU congregations are in discernment about joining the sanctuary movement. To date, more than 40 UU congregations have declared themselves sanctuary congregations. (See the full list of congregations here.)
The Rev. Dr. Rob Hardies, senior minister of All Souls Church in D.C., said, “Though we don’t know all that the future will bring, we declare that All Souls Church will be a sanctuary for those whose personhood is unjustly threatened by a new administration. In the age of ‘The Wall,’ as people of faith and conscience, we must be a bridge supporting the most vulnerable among us.”
In a recent letter to UU ministers, the Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Boston-based Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) issued a call for congregations to prepare to provide sanctuary and resist. He wrote, in part, “First, we must provide sanctuary in the broadest and richest sense of the term…We must provide sanctuary to those most vulnerable…Second, we must prepare to resist human rights violations in active ways. We must make it much harder to deport, register, discriminate and despoil.”
In addition, the UUA, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice (UUCSJ), and UURISE are partnering to offer a series of online webinars to help equip ministers, congregations, and community activists with strategies to combat the fear, hostility, and possibility of increased deportations by providing sanctuary and other forms of support and activism. The first webinar for clergy is scheduled for today at 3:00-4:15 p.m. ET. (The complete list of webinars is available here.)
“Now, more than ever, we need to organize and act. Not a few of us, but all of us. With our friends and allies, we are laying the foundation for a national effort to stand with those who are facing immediate deportation. These communities need our compassion, support, and protection, not harassment, incarceration, and deportation,” said Tom Andrews, president and CEO of UUSC.
The UUA and UUSC are sponsors of today’s day of action in support of sanctuary and solidarity with immigrants and refugees, joining with partners including the Sanctuary Movement, Church World Service, Groundswell Movement at Auburn Seminary, PICO, United We DREAM, United Church of Christ, and many others in pledging to resist deportation and discrimination through sanctuary.
Additional comments from ministers of sanctuary congregations:
“In light of significant concerns for the safety and well-being of the approximately 90,000 Minnesotans threatened with deportation, the Board of Trustees and Executive Team have decided to designate Unity Church as a sanctuary congregation. In doing this, we join congregations across the nation and here in Minnesota in considering how best to respond to the heated rhetoric of the incoming administration. Now is the time to call for a clear moral declaration rooted in our religious principles that our church will not stand by when our neighbors are in imminent danger.” – Rev. Janne Eller-Isaacs, co-minister of Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, MN
“We stand in a long tradition of radical hospitality. From the underground railroad to this very day, we have welcomed the stranger, sheltered the refugee, offered safe home, resisted racism, fear and exclusion. We will not be silent if families are torn apart, children terrified, parents detained. We are not accomplices to hate or reactionary fear. Our calling is to love and justice and faithful resistance. We will open our hearts, we will open our doors, to those who face the threat of deportation. All are welcome, period.” – Rev. Victoria Safford, lead minister of White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church in Mahtomedi, MN