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More than 30 N.J. religious leaders: Rescind travel ban, support refugees

[The Star-Ledger] We speak together as religious leaders in New Jersey, on the injurious executive action restricting refugees issued by President Trump, entitled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States."

The travel ban stands against the principle faith values that we hold in our respective communities of faith. Our faith traditions are clear.

Deuteronomy 10:9 commands:

"You shall also love the foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt."

The words from the Holy Qur'an "Serve G-d and join not any partners with him; and do good to parents, relatives, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers."

We hear Jesus Christ declare in Matthew 25 that His followers will be judged if we do not welcome the stranger.  We stand under that judgment today.

We believe in the aspirations of our nation, a place where all people long to live in safety.  We remember with horror our nation's decision in 1939 to refuse the refugees on the MS St. Louis, a ship of German Jews, condemning many to death.

Refugees invite our increased compassion, not our hardened hearts.

We especially grieve this decision to limit refugees by placing a religious test upon those fleeing persecution, which is un-American. We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters here in New Jersey as an act of solidarity. Without question Muslim religious leaders here in our state have been an integral part of our coalitions efforts to address issues of moral injustices.

At the heart of our faith is the great commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We want safe homes, the freedom to worship, stable governments, and opportunities to thrive.  Refugees desire the same.  Our nation is founded on this welcome.

We must make sure that we do not allow fear to overwhelm us, crowd out our compassion, or fundamentally change our character.  Our faith guides us in our understanding of the world we live in; it aids us in decision-making, it inspires us to work for God's justice.


We pledge our voices and our communities of faith active support to resettle refugees in New Jersey.

We call upon our Congressional delegation to ask President Trump to rescind the executive order to limit refugee resettlement.

We call upon our faith communities throughout the state of New Jersey to show compassion and support to those refugees living near them.

Rev. Darrell Armstrong, General Baptist Convention of New Jersey

V. Rev. Peter A. Baktis, Orthodox Church of America

Bishop Tracie Bartholomew, N.J. Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Imam Qareeb Bashir, Islamic Council of Greater Trenton

Bishop Mark Beckwith, Episcopal Diocese of Newark

Rev. Charles Boyer, pastor, Bethel AME Church of Woodbury

Deacon Patrick Brannigan, N.J. Catholic Conference

Rev. Dr. Debra Brincivalli, Presbytery executive, West Jersey Presbytery

M. Ali Chaudry, Ph.D., Islamic Society of Basking Ridge

Rev. Angelita Clifton, president of N.J. Council of Churches

Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, Reform Church of America, Synod of New Jersey

Joan M. Diefenbach, Esq., director, N.J. Council of Churches

Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz, Congregation B'nai Jeshurun

Rev. Rob Gregson, executive director Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of NJ

Rev. Jack Johnson, coordinator, Coalition of Religious Leaders

Father Joe Kwiatkowski, Office of Social Concerns, Newark Archdiocese

Rev. Sara Lilja, director of Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministries

Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, general secretary emeritus, American Baptist Churches, USA

Rev. David Popham, associate conference minister, Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ

Rev. Jeanne Radak, Presbytery leader, Newton Presbytery

Reverend Marianne Rhebergen, Presbytery of Palisades

Bishop John Schol, Greater NJ Conference of the United Methodist Church

Imam W. Deen Shareef, convener of the Council of Imams in NJ.  Resident Imam at Masjid Waarith ud Deen at Waris C.R.D.C.

Rabbi Alan Silverstein, Congregation Agudath Israel

Rev. Barbara Smith, executive Presbyter, Newark Presbytery

Rev. Dr. Lee Spitzer, executive minister, American Baptist Churches

Bishop William Stokes, Episcopal Diocese of NJ

Dr. Lester Taylor, Jr., preesident General Baptist Convention

Rev. Dr. Robert Wade, presiding elder of Camden-Trenton District AME

Rabbi Gerald Zelizer, Temple Neve Shalom