This statement was read today by Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches, at a unified faith leaders’ press conference:

As Christian leaders, we are called by our Scripture and God to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner. Thirty-two years ago the Minnesota Council of Churches responded to that call. Today we stand against executive action curtailing refugee resettlement.

Our nation has an urgent moral responsibility to receive refugees and asylum seekers who are in dire need of safety. Today, more than five million Syrian refugees flee violence and the hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties in their home country.

We call upon the Trump Administration and all members of the U.S. Congress to demonstrate moral leadership and affirm their support for the resettlement of refugees from all over the world to the United States.

The United States already has the most rigorous refugee screening process in the world, involving the Departments of Defense, State, and Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Counterterrorism Center. The process includes biometric checks, medical screenings, forensic testing of documents, DNA testing for family reunification cases, and in-person interviews with highly trained homeland security officials.

The U.S. Refugee Resettlement program has been and should continue to be open to those who face persecution, as enumerated under U.S. law, regardless of nationality or religion. Any proposal that would disqualify refugees from protection based on their nationality or religion insults our nation’s founding principles, contradicts our country’s legacy of leadership, and dishonors our shared humanity.

In a time when hard actions and sharp words have been directed at our Muslim neighbors, we pledge to walk with them and support their freedom to practice their religion.  That is the American way. That is the way Christ would have us go. This country is built upon religious freedom.  The Islamic community in our country is vibrant and diverse, contributing much– as citizens, teachers, police officers, medical workers, tradespersons, community leaders, mothers and fathers.

As Christians, we are called to welcome the stranger, love all our neighbors, and stand with the vulnerable, regardless of their religion. We pray that in public policy discernment and all we do, compassion for the plight of refugees will touch your hearts. We urge all Minnesotans and particularly people of faith to be bold in supporting moral, just policies that provide refuge for vulnerable individuals seeking protection.