Reader input: Standing against 'zero tolerance'

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Today, our group of clergy from Placer People of Faith Together (PPOFT) announced their objections to the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy for those seeking refuge at our southern border. Further, the interfaith leaders decried the use of the Bible as a rationale for

racism, torture, and child abuse as reprehensible and a misrepresentation of the tenets of the members’ faith traditions.

“Building walls and separating people through fear and anger is the opposite of the example of Jesus’ life and ministry,” stated Rev. Gerry Paulsen, New Faith UCC Loomis.

The past three years Placer People of Faith Together has witnessed and opposed the unfolding of overt anti-immigrant feeling and policies. “The human costs provoke a moral crisis that stains the very fabric of our society,” said Rev. Carol Carter, a retired Methodist minister.

PPOFT develops relationships across economic, racial and spiritual lines to help enrich the lives of the people in Placer County. During its July 2018 meeting, Clergy Voice (PPOFT’s interfaith leaders) discussed Attorney General Jeff sessions’ recent Biblical quotation used to justify the

separation of migrant children from their families. In stark contrast, we noted the words of Jesus in Luke 4:18: “God has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed,” and Matthew 25:40: “I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sister of mine, you have done it for me.”  

Virgil Nelson offered examples from the Hebrew scriptures (Deuteronomy 10:18 and Zechariah 7:9-10) in which “people are called to ‘administer true justice,’ to show mercy and compassion … to not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.” At the meeting, we reached consensus to issue a call to the people of Placer County to demonstrate God’s love to neighbors and to help those who cannot defend themselves.

Placer People of Faith and its Clergy Voice asks people of courage and moral conviction to stand up for, and to stand with, the children and families who have been devastated by this policy. We are planning a “Smart on Immigration” forum to take place during the fall of 2018 to present the facts, best practices, and testimony from community experts that provide a clear understanding of the present challenges. Community members are invited to work with the faith communities of PPOFT, and to ask their spiritual leaders to witness and stand together with immigrant neighbors.

“Together we can dismantle the systemic racism that has plagued our nation since before its birth,” concluded Rev. Casey Tinnin, Loomis Basin Congregational UCC.

Rev. Gerry Paulsen, Auburn, on behalf of Clergy Voice, PPOFT