Thursday, August 8, 2019
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
-Isaiah 58: 6-7, NIV
On Friday, August 2nd, Ricardo Rosselló officially resigned as Puerto Rico’s governor amid fifteen days of mass protests. The protests began after el Centro de Periodismo Investigativo released nearly 900 pages of derogatory, crude, and vulgar messages sent by Rosselló and his “hermanos”, current and former members of his cabinet, through the messaging app Telegram. As well as generating some of the objectionable portions of the chat, Rosselló tolerated his “hermanos” expressions without comment to the contrary.
Members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Office of Public Witness strongly condemn any rhetoric, anywhere, that is used to support the systematic oppression of people and build communities of hate and intolerance, especially when it comes from officials in positions of political power and influence. We applaud the role that people of faith played, especially the Presbyterians who spoke out demanding new political leadership that is decent, competent and visionary. As thousands demanded the governor’s resignation, the voices of Presbyterians were present. Individual Presbyterian church leaders, as well as Puerto Rico’s three presbyteries and synod, took action against Rosselló’s administration by releasing public statements decrying the governor’s corruption and hateful speech. Presbyterians took to the streets demanding justice and participated in Puerto Rico’s largest demonstration in recent history.
Eric LeCompte wrote in The National Catholic Reporter (July 27) that “since 2015, my greatest and professional privilege has been working with faith leaders in Puerto Rico who call for an economy that serves all of the island’s people […] Our interfaith Jubilee USA coalition, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Jewish leaders, Catholic Charities, and the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist and United Church of Christ churches walked with Puerto Rico's religious leaders […] There is much more to be done, but much of what was achieved is because of the leadership of several of the island's religious leaders.”
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) stands in solidarity with Presbyterians in Puerto Rico as they move forward. We pray that the new administration will establish a government that is transparent and honest, works towards the elimination of Puerto Rico’s debt, and assists individuals still struggling to recover from the massive destruction of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is “called to raise a prophetic voice against the systematic economic genocide, oppression, and colonialism of the U.S. Government against Puerto Rico and its residents.” Puerto Rico has been oppressed for more than 120 years under a textbook example of modern colonialism oppression directed by the U.S. Government. We, as faithful servants of the Lord, are called to stop such oppression. We pray that the United States federal government will end the unjustified tax burden imposed on Puerto Rico, repeal the provisions of the Jones Act that limit Puerto Rico’s imports and have hindered Puerto Rico’s recovery from the 2017 hurricanes, and treat all Puerto Ricans fairly as citizens of the United States, rather than as second-class citizens.
God has blessed the Church to be a guiding force and source of strength for the Puerto Rican community. It is our prayer that nuestros hermanos y hermanas puertorriqueños will remain strong and will not be discouraged in their fight for justice, and to know that we stand with them!
In the Faith We Share,
En la Fe que Compartimos,
Rev. Jimmie Hawkins
Thursday, August 1, 2019
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Joins 30 National Faith-Based Organizations Calling for More Humane Policies Towards Immigrants and Refugees
U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee
U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee
U.S. House and Senate Leadership
Dear Members of Congress,
We write to you from across different faith traditions and faith-based organizations to urge you to prioritize non-defense discretionary funding for programs that address true human needs while reducing the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) budget for deportation, detention, and border militarization.
Congress just approved a budget deal that raises the spending caps for non-defense discretionary spending. In the coming weeks, Congress will choose how much money each federal department and program will receive. Many of these departments oversee critical responsibilities ranging from anti-hunger and housing programs, to green infrastructure, education, and humanitarian assistance. As you determine funding levels for fiscal year 2020, we urge Congress to ensure all non-defense discretionary increases which resulted from the budget caps deal are invested in crucial programs that help every person realize their full God-given potential.
We believe that our nation’s budget and the decisions made by Congress should be treated as a moral roadmap toward a world where every child of God is clothed, fed, safe, loved, and free. As people of faith, our various traditions command us to love our neighbors and welcome guests as we would welcome God.
It is with these values in mind that we raise our concern and objection to the ever-increasing funding provided by Congress to DHS for immigrant detention and border militarization. Faith communities have long stood against increased incarceration in favor of community-based alternatives to detention, mitigation of the root causes of forced migration, and meaningful reforms that would reunite families permanently and allow our communities to flourish. We stand strong in our belief that more money for enforcement will only serve to exacerbate the plight of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, as we have seen unfold over the past few months at our southern border. As Congress determines allocation of non-defense discretionary increases, we faithfully urge you to decrease spending for detention, deportation and border militarization.
We urge Congress not to conflate enforcement funding with programs that provide relief and support to communities.Congress should instead carefully consider ways to invest in true humanitarian solutions. A pre-existing network of non-governmental organizations and faith communities are already engaged in reuniting families, providing legal support to people going to immigration court, and providing shelter for people in need. Investing in this community-based model is far less costly and more humane than incarcerating every immigrant.
Moreover, amid the finite funding increase for non-defense discretionary funding, there are myriad programs that need critical investment including education, nutrition assistance, housing assistance, development, and re-entry programs. Only one in six eligible children receive child care assistance, and only one in five low-income families with children are able to secure rental subsidies. We urge you to invest in human needs priorities, not detention and deportation. We ask that Congress stop squandering funds for inhumane use in detention, enforcement and border militarization, which comes as the direct expense of other programs including government responsibilities within DHS outside of the realm of immigration enforcement.
Our nation is only as strong as the communities’ in which we invest. Please prioritize funding true human needs over detention and deportation and reduce the overall budget of the Department of Homeland Security accordingly.
African American Ministers In Action
Alliance of Baptists
American Baptist Home Mission Societies
American Friends Service Committee
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Bread for the World
Bridges Faith Initiative
Christian Community Development Association
Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice
Church World Service
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
Daughters of Charity, USA
Disciples Center for Public Witness
Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries
Faith in Public Life
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Sisters of Mercy – Institute Justice Team
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union of Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries