Film highlighting interfaith prayer at the U.S.-Mexico border set for release

san diegoOn the last Sunday of every month, the Muslim call to prayer sounds across the U.S.-Mexico border. A Christian service also begins, as a sermon is delivered.

These are the shots captured in the short film, “A Prayer Beyond Borders”, produced by the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) California, MoveOn and Beyond Border Studios.

Members of the Christian and Muslim community in San Diego and Tijuana gather at both sides of Friendship Park to pray, listen to sermons and congregate. Gathering at the space is a way to show support to separated families at the border, according to a statement from CAIR San Diego.

The film, which will be officially launched on Oct.7, was months in the making. The Border Church, founded by Rev. John Fanestil, has been holding prayer services at Friendship Park since 2008. They were approached by some of the city’s Muslim community, now dubbed “The Border Mosque”, around six months ago. A collaboration soon sprung up.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUTE 

RELIGIOUS LEADERS ARRESTED AT U.S. BORDER AS CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS AND JEWS UNITE TO PROTEST MIGRANT DETENTION

border-protestMore than 30 religious leaders were arrested after they staged a pro-migrant demonstration at the U.S. border to show support for the Central American caravan.

Hundreds of people took part in the protest at San Diego’s Border Field State Park, which borders Tijuana, Mexico, to call for an end to the practice of placing migrants in detention and to welcome those seeking refuge in the U.S after having traveled across Central America.

Read more: Migrant caravan members have breached U.S. border fence in desperate bid to claim asylum

Among those taking part in the demonstration, organized by the American Friends Service Committee, were leaders from numerous Christian, Muslim, Jewish and indigenous communities.

The arrests were made after the protesters entered a restricted area in front of the border fence, reported The Guardian.

Border Patrol spokesman Theron Francisco told The Associated Press that 31 people were arrested for trespassing, and one was arrested for assaulting an officer.

The protest was the start of a week of action planned by the pro-migrant Quaker organization. The “Love Knows No Borders” events will take place between Human Rights Day on December 10 and International Migrants’ Day on December 18.

“As a Quaker, I believe there is that of the divine in all of us,” Laura Boyce, associate general secretary for U.S. Programs at ASFC, said in a statement.

“This belief calls us to stand with those fleeing violence and poverty, and to call on our government to uphold the human rights of migrants and end the militarization of border communities. In the face of unfounded fear, racism and violence, courageous action is necessary.”

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, from the San Francisco Area United Methodist Church, added: “Showing up to welcome and bless children, mothers and fathers seeking asylum from very difficult and dehumanizing circumstances is the right and humane thing to do. How we act in these moments determines who we will become as a nation.”

Other groups and religious organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relation, the United Methodist Church and Jewish Voice for Peace, will be joining ASFC for the “Love Knows No Borders” events and protests.

The group is also calling for Congress to end funding for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NEWSWEEK 

Christians are hospitable because Jesus is Lord

0802874584An evangelical case for pluralism

If you were looking for an argument for welcoming strangers of another language, religion, and race, you probably wouldn’t seek it from an American evangelical Christian. But that is precisely what Matthew Kaemingk gives us in his startling new book. Given the political harm American evangelicals have recently wrought in the world, it is thrilling to find this counternarrative.

The background of the book is familiar: while political correctness demands that people speak no ill of cultural newcomers, frustration and resistance to this stance erupts in xenophobic vitriol. But Kaemingk isn’t writing about Latino immigration to the United States. His topic is Muslim immigration to the Netherlands, rooted in his doctoral research in Amsterdam. The Dutch, proud of their reputation for being liberal and inclusive, run face-first into the conservative Islam adhered to by immigrants in ways that are both nationally traumatic (as in the 2004 assassination of filmmaker and critic of Islam Theo van Gogh) and quotidian (hijabs on the streets of Amsterdam).

Faith communities are mobilizing against Trump’s family separation policy

BORDER PATROL

On April 6, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions first announced the so-called “zero-tolerance policy” at the border between the US and Mexico, he shepherded in a practice of government-sanctioned abduction of more than 2,500 children from their parents that rightfully drew widespread public outrage. Sessions was quick to reference scripture in its defense: “Obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes” (Romans 13:1).

The Bible passage Sessions twisted to serve his political purposes is the same one later echoed by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to justify the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies. It is the same passage that, once upon a time, was used to justify the enslavement of people from Africa. And it is the same passage used by the Nazis to justify the Holocaust.

As faith leaders from Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, we won’t sit idly by while holy texts are used to perpetuate injustice, the closing off of borders to those in need, and the inhumane treatment of children and families. For the past week, we have led the multi-faith community in a “Week of Witness” that included lullaby sing-alongs and prayer vigils in congregations across the country to raise awareness of the hundreds of children still separated from their parents a month after the court-ordered reunification deadline, and to share a message of love to those in detention that may feel unwelcome or alone.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HILL 

How cities help immigrants feel at home: 4 charts

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As anti-immigrant sentiment erupts in Western democracies from Germany to the United States, some cities are still finding ways to make immigrants feel at home.

I conducted hundreds of interviews with immigrants in New York, Paris and Barcelona intermittently for over a decade to understand how each city integrates – or excludes – its migrants.

My new book, “A Place to Call Home,” explains why some cities and their residents do better at incorporating foreign-born newcomers in the local economy, culture and politics.

A feeling of belonging

On the surface, immigration in these three cities looks quite different.

Over one-third of all New Yorkers were born abroad, the majority of them in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In Paris, where 20 percent of the population is foreign-born, most immigrants and their children come from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and other former French colonies in North Africa.

Much of Barcelona’s immigrant population, around 17.8 percent of its total population, is Latin American or Moroccan.

Despite their diverse origins, the immigrants I spoke with consistently cited the same elements as being critical to their sense of urban belonging, helping them to feel “at home” while working, socializing and raising a family in the city.

New York and Barcelona, it turns out, foster this sense of belonging more than Paris does.

Nearly 70 percent of the first-generation Latino immigrants I interviewed in New York City feel that they are part of the community. Just under half of first-generation Moroccans in Barcelona felt that way. But only 19 percent of North Africans in Morocco feel like part of the community.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION 

Muslim White House staffer quits, slamming Trump’s travel ban

rumana-ahmed-11-e1487872045737A Muslim staffer on the National Security Council quit eight days into the Trump administration, citing President Trump’s travel ban as the motivating factor in a personal account published Thursday by The Atlantic.

Rumana Ahmed joined the White House in 2011 and said she decided to stay on with the Trump administration in the hope of giving “the new president and his aides, a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens.”

“Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this – or because of it – I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration,” Ahmed wrote.

But she lasted just eight days, ultimately motivated to quit after the president signed an executive order on Jan. 27 temporarily banning travelers from seven predominately Muslim countries and halting entrance of all Syrian refugees. Enforcement of the order has been halted while legal challenges play out in court, and the administration is expected to release a revamped version in the coming days.

“I knew I could no longer stay and work for an administration that saw me and people like me not as fellow citizens, but as a threat,” Ahmed wrote.

She said the administration’s treatment of Muslims would fuel the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by legitimizing its propaganda.

“The Administration’s plans to revamp the Countering Violent Extremism program to focus solely on Muslims and use terms like ‘radical Islamic terror,’ legitimize ISIS propaganda and allow the dangerous rise of white-supremacist extremism to go unchecked,” Ahmed wrote.

She also suggested national security officials have little sway in the new administration.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MSN

Trump blocks Muslim refugees, America loses a part of itself

ct-immigration-ban-protest-photos-20170128Let me address those celebrating President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees from Syria and other predominantly Muslim countries.

Let me address those who think keeping out Muslim refugees has somehow made us safer. That it has somehow made America better. That it has somehow shown us to be strong.

You are wrong. Woefully, embarrassingly, pathetically wrong.

As Trump signed the order Friday — with Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, two men who had previously denounced such an order, standing at his side, complicit — the terrorists won. The Islamic State militant group won.

This is exactly what they wanted. For us to defy who we are, who we’ve always been.

They can claim victory for getting us to bend to their will, not due to force, but due to fear. Baseless, unfounded fear. Fear that is not becoming of most Americans I know. Fear ginned up for purely political purposes. Fear that will now cost innocent children, women and men their lives and any chance at a future. Fear that will embolden our enemies and help drive up their numbers as the evil portrait they paint of us — as a Western power at war with Islam — is confirmed in some young minds.

Chicago advocates condemn Trump’s order on refugees, migrants
Chicago advocates condemn Trump’s order on refugees, migrants
Part of who we are went away as that order was signed. And we are not better for it — not at all.

We don’t look strong. We look cowardly.

And each and every person out there celebrating this decision, you don’t look tough. You don’t look patriotic. You look ignorant. And weak. Because you have turned your back on people in need.

You who are Christians have gone against everything Jesus taught. Everything.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Which Christians Are Telling Donald Trump to Keep Out Refugees?

lead_960President Trump has signed an executive order that temporarily suspends the U.S. refugee program and bars Syrian refugees. It will likely suspend immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries and bars the admission of anyone who engages in “acts of bigotry or hatred,” including “the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own.” It also allows the the secretaries of State and Homeland Security to jointly admit individuals on a case-by-case basis, “including when the person is a religious minority … facing religious persecution.”

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on Friday, Trump clarified what this means: Christians refugees will be given priority status. “They’ve been horribly treated,” the president said. “Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough, to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible.” People overseas “were chopping off the heads of everybody, but more so the Christians,” he added, “so we are going to help them.”

The announcement was met with immediate backlash from leaders of nearly every Christian denomination, along with those of other faiths. They argue that Trump’s actions do not reflect the teachings of the Bible, nor the traditions of the United States, and they have urged the president to let them get back to work—many of the country’s most prominent refugee resettlement organizations are faith-based.

If so many prominent Christian leaders reject the notion that their fellow Christians should get preferential treatment, why has this become Trump’s policy? One possible answer is that these leaders don’t necessarily reflect what their flocks believe. Even if they think an open refugee policy is in line with the teachings of Christianity, lay Americans don’t necessarily feel the same way.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY

How Islam Became a Scapegoat for Immigration

Something I wrote last week about Islam caused a bit of a stir, with one conservative blogger wondering if I had been threatened with beheading.The great Mark Steyn even wrote: “I’m sad to see the usually perceptive Ed West of the London Telegraph planting his flag on this wobbling blancmange.” Considering I am Mark Steyn’s biggest fan in the whole wide world, complete with a wall covered with pictures of him and a tattoo of his face on my chest, that’s left with me some mixed feelings.

And yet I still believe that Islam has become something of a scapegoat for the problems associated with mass immigration, and here’s why.

Conservatism is all about protecting the community from radical change; that is why conservatives tend to oppose large-scale immigration, which alters the social fabric in a huge way.

Yet from the 1960s to the 1990s, both in Britain and the US, conservatives lost this argument, despite overwhelming public support. They lost because they lost the intellectual justification for group solidarity or “parochial altruism” against post-war radical universalism, to the extent that normal human feelings were redefined as forms of mental illness. Defeat. Until Islam came along, allowing conservatives to make arguments using language that liberals would permit.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LONDON TELEGRAPH