Thursday, October 18, 2007

IPC Calls for Support of Immigrants in New Sanctuary Movement

Washington DC October 16, 2007 The Institute for Progressive Christianity believes that the plight of the undocumented immigrants is of our concern. Therefore, IPC stands in support of the New Sanctuary Movement in the name of hospitality and justice.

A sanctuary is a place that guarantees safety and protection. This concept has solid biblical underpinnings and a long history in the Christian tradition. There are written records documenting this practice in the times of the crusades and in the Middle Ages. When people took refuge in a sanctuary, they were considered beyond the reach of civil law.

Two decades ago, the faith-based sanctuary movement came to the U.S. when Christians chose to come forward and offer sanctuary to the refugees fleeing the wars in Central America. An earlier example of similar faith based work was the Underground Rail Road. What both of these movements shared was a commitment to justice and providing refuge for those who needed it.

Now the sanctuary movement has been reborn. These immigrants enter the United States out of the same desire for a better life of immigrants past, documented as well as undocumented. For many, their passage is dangerous and agonizing. And once they reach this country they are often exploited by their employers and attacked by hostile individuals. In response, to a broken immigration system and the unwarranted hostility and aggression that is being fueled by a right wing "nativist" movement, Christians have come together to provide sanctuary to immigrants and their native born children.

The idea of sanctuary has long been a part of the ancient Judeo-Christian tradition. Leviticus teaches us, "The stranger that dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you; and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Leviticus 19:33). Moreover in Deuteronomy chapter 10 we are told of God "He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt."

It is time for us as Christians to stand up again, to stand up against an unjust immigration system that is broken, to stand up against vigilante attacks on sanctuary houses of worship. As Christians we need to call attention to the injustice of the present immigration system and help transform the law so that it is moral and just. As Christians we are not called to be defenders of the status quo. We are called to be prophetic in our leadership, modeling heaven on earth.

The leaders of the New Sanctuary Movement are prophetic leaders, reminding us of the words of the New and the Old testament as it relates to the stranger; and in parallel bringing us closer to the foundation upon which this great nation was built, a nation that welcomed the immigrant, the poor, the downtrodden, those that hunger for the American dream. That is this country's history, its legacy. It is our nation's past and as Christians and proud Americans we are committed to it being our nation's present and future as well.

As Christians we stand for the humanity of the immigrants that the Sanctuary movement is working to protect. We stand for a tradition of hospitality where we as Christians offer rest, shelter and safety to the stranger and the rejected. And we call on all of our Christian brothers and sisters to publicly support the work of the Sanctuary movement. This sanctuary movement is perhaps the most significant form of hospitality that we as good Christians can support today.

As a Progressive Christian organization, the IPC stands with those faithful who comprise this current sanctuary movement; and we ask that our fellow Christians join us and stand up with them in the name of justice, hospitality and their faith. This position might not be popular, but it is just.

About The Institute for Progressive Christianity

We are Progressive
We are progressive in that we desire to promote: the Love of God, Neighbor and Self; Compassion; Justice; and the Common Good.

We are Christian
We are an ecumenical group of Christians of different theological orientations: Liberal, Mainline Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical. We believe in being in community that maintains unity while acknowledging and supporting our diversity. We are united in our conviction that our progressive values flow directly from our understanding of the message and example of Jesus.

We are an Institute

We have faith that we can positively confront the ills of this world with a progressive Christian witness that is coherent, convicted, intelligent, and passionate. In a spirit of being affirmative, we believe that engaging society's questions should be done transparently and authentically from a reasoned yet inspired place of substance. We research, analyze, and discuss the issues with an eye to welcoming other people into a dialogue where we can encourage and provoke each other to fulfill our destinies as unique but interdependent reflections of the Creator.


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Courtesy of: Saúl