A LETTER FROM OUR SYNOD BISHOP: COMPASSION FOR SEPARATED MIGRANT MINORS
Dear Friends in Christ,
There has been a lot of discussion about migrant minors being separated from family. Going beyond political positions, there has also been some disturbing theology and use of scripture that has been used to justify this separation. It is the same disturbing sharing that was often used to justify slavery, the Holocaust, and other human abuses.
The United States government has begun the practice of separating children from parents when the parents and children come to our borders for international protection. You can imagine being separated from your children or loved ones. This practice has been described as morally and emotionally harmful to Border Patrol agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees who are required to enforce the forced removal of children from parents, siblings, and other family.
The members of the Metropolitan New York Synod need to express care for migrant minors, their parents, and those required to separate children from parents. I would hope that every congregation in our synod include prayers for those who are caught in this situation. Advocacy is essential. We need to appeal to our Senators and U.S. Representatives concerning this injustice, that separation is traumatic and will leave scars on families, especially children.
Your action and advocacy can make a difference. The families are seeking asylum and immigration proceedings are underway. Can we not consider a more humane way?
Our Presiding Bishop, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, has joined ELCA ecumenical and inter-religious partners in a statement addressing concerns over the recent U.S. government policy. Please read and share this statement. It follows.
“Recently, the Administration announced that it will begin separating families and criminally prosecuting all people who enter the U.S. without previous authorization. As religious leaders representing diverse faith perspectives, united in our concern for the well-being of vulnerable migrants who cross our borders fleeing from danger and threats to their lives, we are deeply disappointed and pained to hear this news.
We affirm the family as a foundational, societal structure to support human community and understand the household as an estate blessed by God. The security of the family provides critical mental, physical, and emotional support for the development and well-being of children. Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Tearing children away from parents, who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them, is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children.
As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the children and families who will suffer due to this policy and urge the Administration to stop their policy of separating families.”
God’s concern for the orphan, the widow, and the stranger, to "welcome them as one of your own” is documented in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:33-34, Psalm 146, Jeremiah 7:5-7). Jesus taught us to welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:31-46).
May we follow our God of love and justice who does indeed welcome the stranger and has compassion on those in need.
Sincerely in Christ,
Bishop Don McCoid