Bishop of Maine and Muslim scholar co-author essay on religion and refugees

From the Bangor Daily News: The Rt Rev Stephen T. Lane and author Reza Jalali draw comparisons between the situation of Syrian refugees today and the plight of European Jews in 1938. In fact, a poster created in 1938 by the Diocese of Southern Ohio, above, forms the basis for today’s Episcopal Migration Ministries logo. From the op-ed:

In July 1938, representatives from 32 nations gathered in France for the Evian Conference to discuss the growing concern over hundreds of thousands of Jewish Germans and Austrians made stateless by the Nazi regime. With the exception of one nation, the small Caribbean country of the Dominican Republic, 31 countries, including the United States, proved unwilling to ease immigration restrictions. Instead they established a commission to study the problem. Four months later, the sound of the shattered glass of Kristallnacht awoke the world to the dire fate awaiting millions across Europe.

The decision made by American leaders at the Evian Conference reflected the fears of many Americans. In a country slowly emerging from the Great Depression, many feared that an influx of refugees would compete with them for jobs and overwhelm the new social programs designed to support the poor. As we watch a new wave of desperate refugees, the possibility that history may repeat itself is a grim and all too possible prospect….

We two hold to two historic religions, Islam and Christianity. Welcoming the stranger is at the core of each of the Abrahamic faiths. Mohammed, when persecuted in Mecca, leaves in search of safety to go to Medina in order to establish the young religion. In Genesis, Pharaoh gives the immigrant Israelite Joseph great responsibility and Joseph, in turn, saves Egypt from a terrible famine. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me …”

Based on these common values we call on all Mainers, from different faith traditions and across class and political divisions, to refuse to let fear dictate our actions and attitudes toward others and to welcome those who are displaced into our midst. The true character of a people is made known when they show compassion toward those whose voices are not heard.

Read the whole article here.

The Episcopal Public Policy Network encourages Episcopalians to contact Congress to voice their support for refugees.

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are working on an “Omnibus” appropriations bill that will likely include provisions to stop, pause and defund the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. This funding bill is being drafted as a number of Governors are attempting to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees, and the House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 4038, The American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, which would grind to a halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

Send a message to your representatives through the EPPN advocacy page here.

Picture credit: Episcopal Migration Ministries/Diocese of Southern Ohio. Thanks to the Episcopal Diocese of Maine’s Canon for Communication and Advocacy for assistance in bringing this story.

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