The UCC Helping Lead the Sanctuary Movement in the Trump Era

The United Church of Christ has a new prophetic calling in our new political reality. After a vitriolic campaign season during one of the most controversial elections in U.S. history, many are worried about what's to come, especially those who found themselves targets in a strategy to mobilize voters through scapegoating immigrants, refugees and Muslims. This harsh rhetoric, paired with concerning Cabinet appointments, shows a growing agenda of white supremacy, patriarchy, misogyny, racism and environmental degradation that will impact vulnerable populations in potentially devastating ways. 
As the United Church of Christ, we must find our calling in a new era where the politics of fear have taken over. For immigrants, the Obama years were not kind. Two and a half million people were deported and thousands of families were separated, while the administration employed rhetoric designed to criminalize immigrants. The resurgence of the sanctuary movement in response to President Obama's mass deportations has become a foundation on which we must build a new strategy as we prepare for the incoming Trump administration.
Since the 1980s the sanctuary movement, motivated by the scriptural call to welcome the stranger, has provided safe haven to immigrants and refugees in need. Sanctuary is a tool that helps us to realize our vision of community, and mobilize people around solidarity with immigrant families, by offering our neighbors who face deportation safe refuge in our congregations. The modern-day resurgence of the sanctuary movement has created a platform to elevate the prophetic and moral witness of faith communities, while at the same time lifting up the stories of immigrant leaders who are brave enough to speak out against the injustice of deportation. 
As President-elect Trump continues to rally supporters behind oppressive policy proposals, he has inadvertently brought the social justice community together. Too often, we have gotten distracted working only on one issue area at a time in a way that can sometimes divide us, but we are stronger united. Sanctuary is a practice that now, more than ever, should be expanded to include all those who are currently being attacked, such as immigrants, refugees, Muslims, women, Black Lives Matter activists, Native Americans and the LGBTQ community. Although the coming years will bring tremendous challenges, they will also provide new opportunities for movement building. The United Church of Christ must escalate our bold and prophetic voice as we work alongside partner organizations and interfaith efforts to help protect human rights and advance unity, love, respect and dignity for all.
Noel Andersen is National Grassroots Coordinator of the United Church of Christ.
Local informational meetings are being held regarding the sanctuary movement. First Congregational is a part of those conversations. 

Posted on January 10, 2017 at 3:15 pm in Featured Content.

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