San Francisco Theological Seminary opposes the Trump administration’s executive order of January 27, targeting refugees and particularly singling out refugees from certain predominantly Muslim countries. In the executive order of President Donald J. Trump the nation has been presented with a false choice between physical safety and safe-guarding its cultural values and faith traditions. For over two hundred years, in an intentional if imperfect way, the nation has endeavored to do both.
For nearly 150 years, SFTS has trained religious leaders to uphold the mission and message of Jesus whose own family was forced to flee the violence of a tyrant. Therefore, in the Christian tradition of compassion, we stand with those who today are fleeing for their lives and seeking to find sanctuary on our nation’s soil.
The administration’s action targets some of the most vulnerable people in the world— refugees fleeing violence and war. As protestors and advocates are pointing out, the order likely exceeds the President’s constitutional authority and contravenes the American constitutional commitment to equal protection of the law and religious non-discrimination.
SFTS opposes the inhumanity of these actions because Jesus’ call to compassion compels people of faith speak out and defend the vulnerable: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9) Scripture calls again and again for compassion as well as for the protection of refugees and “strangers in the land.”
The Bible is replete with admonitions to care for the most vulnerable in our midst. As the prophet Isaiah says, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17) The gospels and the epistles likewise command care of the vulnerable, without distinction based on borders or boundaries. We are reminded in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus says “I was a stranger and you took me not in.” And again, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:40) Then and now, care for the refugee is a matter of life and death.
- We call upon all who follow Jesus to resist conflating nationalist political ideology with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and calling it Christianity.
- We embrace the corrective and prophetic role of the Christian witness to speak truth to power and to stand with the oppressed.
- We say “amen” and join our voices with those who resist unjust actions and advance the good news of the Gospel.
Our citizenship lies not in loyalty to a leader, but in our fidelity to the guiding principles of our faith and to practicing and preserving the democratic ideals of our country.