Disciples News Service

GMP speaks to comments re: Haitian, African immigrants

As a follower of Jesus Christ, as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I must speak to repudiate the comments from the President of the United States on Jan. 11, 2018. As Christians, we believe that all humans are made in the image of God and therefore worth of dignity and respect. We are called to love, and Jesus tells us that we will be known as his disciples if we have love for one another. (John 13:35).

There are certain roads that love cannot take. Love cannot take the road of discrimination; love cannot take the road of hate; love cannot take the road of oppression; love cannot take the road of racism; love cannot take the road of gender bias; love cannot take the road of homophobia. There is no justification for these hateful and racist comments. None. As the nation prepares to honor the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I remind all  those who claimed to be followers of Christ of Dr. King’s admonition to speak up against injustice, to work for human dignity, for peace, and for equal justice for all. Dr.  King was most disappointed that those who called themselves Christians were telling him to wait until a more judicious time for action.

Today it is clear that we still cannot wait. I call upon those who believe in the dignity of all persons to not only speak, but work together to rid our nation of systemic injustice, to register to vote, and hold those who are not in solidarity with basic human dignity and justice to account. Acts of charity and songs of unity will not be enough to dismantle the structural injustice that exists in our society.  We cannot allow such hatred to stand unchallenged, and we cannot be silent or inactive in the face of words and actions that violate the Christian mandate to love all whom God has created.

Other Disciples speak

Rev. Dr. Philius Nicolas, Disciples Evangelical Crusade Fishers of Men, Brooklyn, NY:

“Wherever Haitian communities are, both inside and outside the U.S., they are in malaise about the comments by the President.   We have never heard such comments from high leaders that create hatred toward our community, promote white supremacy, and speak against people of color.  We feel they are deeply inappropriate and unacceptable comments for a leader of the United States to make, and they are comments that threaten to place the U.S. into a deeply insecure situation.

Haitians fought side by side with American citizens in Savannah, Georgia to secure freedom for the United States.  We urge U.S. leaders to remember our shared goals, and to speak about how many great doctors, business leaders, congregations, lawyers, and health professionals are here in the United States from Haiti.  The United States does not become great by itself.  All black persons, whether from Haiti or any African nation, contribute to the greatness of the United States.  Therefore all black persons from Haiti and African nations hope for an apology from the President and recognition of our long term partnerships.”

Pastor Gabrielle Montillus, Pastor, Disciples Haitian Pentecostal Church, Salisbury, Md.

“Many of my community members felt sick to their stomachs from pain when they heard the comments said yesterday about our homeland.  So many Haitians have helped the United States again and again, in the Revolutionary War in Savannah, Georgia nearly 240 years ago, and throughout the years since that time.  I pray strongly for our leaders to take time to read the stories of our communities to learn about what we have contributed through the years.  Members of my church are also suffering so much as they wait many weeks to receive guidance about what to do next, after having their TPS terminated on last November 21st.  Many feel at risk to lose their jobs, because employers do not understand.  We ask DHS to tell us in the Federal Register about what they should do next.  I will continue to pray for our President and all of our leaders.  I will keep on trying to comfort my community as they feel pain.  And, my community will continue to strongly seek strength from our God.”

Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada:

“Comments by the President allegedly spoken yesterday, in the context of bi-partisan efforts to seek ongoing security for the nearly 800,000 young adult “dreamers” who have worked, studied, and contributed without the benefit of status in this nation since arriving in the U.S. as immigrant children, were deeply offensive.  Rather than agreeing upon a legislative fix to diminish the pain of family separations, the President’s messages instead piled pain upon pain for immigrants of Haitian, African, and Salvadoran descent who have contributed mightily to the strength of our nation and its communities and congregations.  The further reality that such comments were made on the eve of the 8th anniversary of the 7.0 earthquake that inflicted devastation upon the island, killing 230,000 residents, displacing 3 million persons, and resulting in one of the world’s worst cholera epidemics, was particularly insensitive.

Today we re-affirm the vitality of our Disciples Haitian congregations and the value of our long term denominational partnerships with Haitians in the U.S. and Haiti.  TPS recipients within our congregations were deeply discouraged following the announced termination on Nov. 21st of TPS for 60,000 Haitians in the U.S.  Since that time, affected communities have patiently endured the delayed posting of further guidance from DHS about re-registration requirements.  We again strongly urge DHS to offer these guidelines immediately, as delays are already resulting in loss of jobs and family security among our congregations’ families.

Likewise, in this week when nearly 200,000 Salvadorans have already suffered in hearing the announcement of loss of TPS for their population, further comments yesterday that degraded their value to the U.S. and disregarded the essential work they have provided to our communities for nearly two decades were damaging and inappropriate.  Rather, we call upon the Administration to remember the assessment of our Creator that “God saw everything made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).  We celebrate that, without exception, our God values persons of every background, every color, every heritage.

Therefore, we pray for continuing conversations to lead to a bi-partisan solution including ongoing protections for both dreamers and TPS recipients.  We seek to replace exclusive statements, whether made in public or private, with messaging that demonstrates the shared and needed contributions of all humans to our societies; believing such goals are attainable because they are rooted in scripture that reminds us “the body does not consist of one member but of many” with “all members activated by the same Spirit.”  Therefore, we re-commit to our need to care for all;  recognizing that “if one member suffers, all suffer together with it.” (1 Cor. 12:14, 11, 26.)

21 Responses to “GMP speaks to comments re: Haitian, African immigrants”

  1. Robert Lyons:

    These comments MAY have some validity IF there was complete and verifiable proof that these comments were made exactly as the press reports. TIme and again, politicians, partnering with complicit, biased news organizations, posture for positions by leaking, misrepresenting and mischaracterizing, the President’s remarks – just for political benefit. One would have to trust both the people who leaked the remarks from a private meeting, and then trust media who reported what those people said as being completely accurate and factual. Too much of a chance for error or bias for me to condemn, unless I had personal and direct knowledge. If President Trump could walk on water, many news organizations would report that he could not swim.
    Instead of watching CNN, I recommend the GMP devote her fullest attention to supporting and strengthening struggling congregations, The congregation of my Ordination was robust at the time, with over 200 in average weekly attendance. Today, while it calls its pastor a “SENIOR MINISTER, ” 25 on a Sunday would be a success. Heartbreaking. But, I am sure the GMP’s comments will cause people to come in droves this next Sunday.

    • Dear Mr. Lyons. Your remarks, while couched in terms of moderation and caution, cannot belie your point of view. It is obvious that you are condoning our President’s present and past record of dehumanizing persons and places that he does not favor. Pointing out other deficiencies in our world does not lessen the need to address transgressions by the leader of the free world.

      • Robert Lyons:

        Sir, I congratulate you for possessing such a profound insight into the thoughts and motives of a person you have never met. Otherwise, I would have taken your words, as they appear, as bullying and a personal attack – which I am sure you would never do. You are wise beyond your years, and truly a great person. With regard to our President – I am sure you, or no-one of your apparent leanings has ever bandied around any unseemly adjectives about him, or the “Basket of Deplorables” who support him.
        I stand by the merits of my posting: we rush to judgement when something in the poitical world does not suit us, but seemingly stand aside as our denomination slowly, but most certainly dies. If the trend of the last twenty years continues for the next twenty or so, I doubt this blog, this webiste, this denomination will still exist. As a fourth generation Disciple, I pray the Lord will call me home before this happens – and my point was to commend the GMP to give less attention to the media and political events (which Churches are not supposed to do anyway) and to constructively devote her greater energy to preserving what is left of our Church while a remnant still remains. I apologize for my many sins, and if the concept was unclear to you.

        • Beth Oweb:

          As a 4th generation disciple myself, I stand in solidarity with our GMPs call to action. I attend a Disciples church that is growing and vibrant and raising many many children in this denomination. As I look at my world and what inspires people to come to church it is seeing others live according to Jesus teachings, rather than just talk. It is letting God use us. I have never been very comfortable with religion and politics, but that is not the case here. Where there are those that are marginalized, treated with injustice it is our duty to speak up, to live our faith. Whether the particular vulgarity was spoken or not is irrelevant. A man with great power chose to diminish and see as lesser people with dark skin. we must speak up. We must stand, whether we politically agree with him or not, we must say no to that kind of thinking. It hurts the weak and marginalized. It hurts us all.

        • Bill Murphy:

          Mr. Lyons,
          Thank you for your courage and integrity in standing up to this one-sided effort by the DoC leadership to sway DoC members to follow their agenda. As a DoC elder I’ve dedicated many years to avoiding political debates and weighing-in on current events and social issues so I can serve the entire church family without them having any reservations about my leanings. Our denomination has been pushing an agenda for years and this statement by the GMP is another strong step in that direction. My understanding is that a church cannot keep its tax exemption if it tells people how to vote. And more to the point, it may lose half of its members if it tells people how to vote. A church divided cannot stand.
          Man, I can’t stand this stuff. I’ve never enjoyed political debates. Too bad our church is making it difficult to avoid. There are just too many people being told to be silent (like you are in these comments) while the other half keeps pushing their agenda. If they really want to say ALL are welcome, then they need to live it. I’ll continue praying that God guide us as disciples to live according to his word. By the mercy and grace of Christ, may we each seek to stay focused on him.

          • Robert Lyons:

            Sir,
            Thank you for your gracious words. You are absolutely correct that we are at risk for losing our tax exempt status by engaging in politics. It is a violation of the “Johnson Amendment. But the hypocritical thing is that our GMP, in her blog against the new tax legislation, expressed concern, along with a number of DOC leaders, that the legislation, as it stood then, would have eliminated the Johnson Amendment, thereby ALLOWING tax-exempt organizations to engage in politics. The enacted legislation kept the Johnson Amendment, but I find it outrageous that our leadership would argue a position that would prevent churches from engaging in politics, but then do it enthusiastically when the issue suits. Of course, it depends on the side of the aisle one is on ….

  2. Marvin Eckfeldt:

    Thank you, Teresa! Well said. The progression of racial bias and bigotry from the oval office must stop! This attitude and language does not represent who the United States is. It is time to speak truth to power! A-men.

  3. Delores Carpenter:

    I cannot be silent as President Trump has reached a new low. His numerous racist comments since 2011 have deeply injured the United States of America at home and abroad. I am heartbroken for the wonderful leaders and promising peoples of the countries that he has offended. Having spent considerable time in Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa and having a daughter who is not only a Foreign Service Officier but currently Deputy Director of the Africa Office at the State Department, I know how hard many have worked to lift the dignity of all people. The Young African Leaders Program is but one example of such. We often ask why terrorists hate America. Our President’s latest comments are one of the reasons. They are the best example of “the Ugly American“ that I’ve heard in a long time. Shame on all of us who do not speak out and take a stand as we celebrate Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend.

  4. Thank you so much for your strong and clear pastoral leadership at this time when so many are hurting in the wake of this verbal racist attack on the people of our country and our churches who are from Haiti, Africa, and other countries under attack by this President and those who support him. Your words give strength to our congregations at this time.

  5. Thank you, Madam President. I appreciate the article because of its relevance to who Jesus Christ is and what Jesus Christ did in the flesh. While Space for Grace Fellowship United Church of Christ is small, we are robust. As Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr [DRJAWJR] often shared with us “ain’t about the numbers. It’s about being in the number.” I pray you are encouraged. Hope to meet you on my feet someday. I fell at your feet at The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, New Orleans. It was my first time fainting under the power of the Holy Spirit. When I awoke, many had left the sanctuary. Funny.
    With Joy, Peace&justice,

    Pastor/Chaplain Pamelajune Anderson, DMin.
    Your Sibling in Christ and Creation.

  6. I was raised in a blue-collar family. My father was a construction worker. His friends were other guys from the union hall. Could they get rough? Yes. Were they vulgar? On occasion, but nothing like they are today. When men would get vulgar and children might hear it, the men would say to the offender “hey, watch your language.” I agree that what the President is reported as saying is all too familiar with everyday dialogue these days. It is a reflection of how far our culture has fallen. Are folks offended by the President’s language and sentiments? Well, don’t tolerate it from anyone or anywhere…not in movies, not in books, not in music…not in church, from the pulpit or in the parking lot.
    Now, I agree, our leaders ought to set the example. They ought to be an example of civil discourse and appropriate mores for dialogue. Does the degradation of our culture dismiss vulgar language and sentiments of our leaders as normal? Certainly not. But, folks shouldn’t be surprised. Call all leaders who express ideas in this manner to accountability. Call your fellow steelworkers, carpenters, electricians, lawyers, physicians, business owners and fellow members of the bowling team to accountability too. The question we must ask ourselves: What am I going to do to change it?

  7. J. Lemert Whitmer:

    We can debate till the cows come home about who said what. Personally I think where there is smoke, there is always fire. It cannot be denied that the comments coming via the press are often overstated, but we the people have heard enough from this president to know where of he speaks and the bigotry behind it. I spent the first 12 years of my life in places which have so blatantly been called ‘depraved.’ Some of those places are right here in our contiguous US borders (even though some refuse to recognize the fact). But in those places, like all others, rich or pour, I find courageous, committed people who cling to the promises Jesus made and refuse to give up the dignity which can only be God given.

  8. Gloria Ortiz:

    As a prophet, when Mr. Trump began to win the Republican Primaries, I was confused. He was not a good example. But the Lord told that at the end, he will defeat the other candidates. OK, that’s it! I thought. But during the Election day, when the Lord told me that he was going to win the Presidency, I couldn’t believe it! But at the end, I recognized that the path of the liberal agenda of the Democrats was against the christian values and God had chosen him. He is not perfect, but he has defended our values and Israel. I was thinking in David, the great king and the author of the book of the Psalms, he made big mistakes that included crimes, but God forgave and continued using him. We should pray for him!

    • Pat Carrithers:

      We should pray that his cancer be removed from us.

      • Gloria Ortiz:

        We as christians have a duty. Pray fpr our leaders. We are not judges!

    • Ann Courtney:

      Dear Gloria,
      David was also held accountable by the Lord, in his case for killing a faithful servant to cover up his adultery, and for failing as a parent, which resulted in the rape of a daughter and the death of two sons. I believe that the leadership of the Church seeks to remind us all that while we should be praying constantly for our leaders, we are also called to hold one another accountable. As the President has, on numerous occasions, claimed to be a Christian, we must, like the prophets of old, be willing to boldly confront serious and repeated behaviors that do not align with our faith.
      Thank you for the reminder that it is so important that we continue to pray for our President, and that there are a few areas in which he has been faithful to God’s will. Let us pray together for him to follow God’s perfect will.
      In Christ’s love,
      Ann Courtney

  9. Pat Carrithers:

    A quote from Robert Garcia: “This president is racist. The sh**hole remark is racist against black and brown people. It is not simply vulgar, disrespectful, insensitive, or based on bigoted economics. The remark is part of a pattern tying the actions and world view of this president, this administration, and their supporters together.”

  10. Linda Shively:

    Thank you for making a statement in a polite and respectful manner. Our fb world has gotten so toxic and cruel. While I agree that the press plays up the worst side of MrTrump’s statements, it cannot be denied that he is a gross, I’ll-mannered man. You cannot defend him when there are so many recorded vile remarks. He does not represent our country nor our God.

  11. Sara Edwards:

    Reading these exchanges on this special day, I am reminded of the message of Dr. King. And I just heard that Dr. King’s niece, Rev. Alveda King, has a new book out about his message and his leadership. Have any of you read the book, and if so, would you recommend it as a help in our DoC dialogue and conversations – and maybe as a guide for a local study group?

  12. Bob Turpin:

    Succinctly and well stated; thank you!

  13. Pastor John E. Claussen:

    Paul uses a great word to describe the wisdom of God. It is “polupoikilos”. This word means “many-colored”. Putting politics and personalities aside, we should strive to be polupoikilos in our service and witness of the gospel.