PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly talked immigration this week including footage of last week’s 48 hour vigil outside the Supreme Court:
Alabama schoolchildren wrote letters to Governor Robert Bentley about the way HB-56, the extreme anti-immigrant law passed in the state last year, threatens their families and communities:
Yesterday, as the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law, people of faith capped off 48 hours of prayer with a biblically-inspired “Jericho March” around the Supreme Court. More than 150 participants from diverse faith traditions wore white and marched to the sound of trumpets in silent solidarity with those impacted by anti-immigrant laws.
The concept of a “Jericho March” comes from the Book of Joshua:
The LORD said to Joshua…’You shall march around the city… seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. “It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.” (Joshua 6:1-6)
The faith community has been an omnipresent force in the fight to overturn SB 1070 and similar laws across the country on grounds that it criminalizes faith and impugns human dignity. We’ll soon find out whether the Supreme Court agrees with them.
As the Supreme Court weighs the Department of Justice’s case against Arizona’s discriminatory anti-immigrant law SB 1070, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez has an op-ed in The Washington Post reaffirming the USCCB’s opposition to the law and explaining the moral principles behind their position:
Most disturbing, upholding Arizona’s law would change our American identity as a welcoming nation, which has served us well since our inception. The goals of Arizona-type laws are to discourage immigrants from coming and to encourage those who are here to leave. We must carefully consider whether that is the signal we want to send to the world, given that immigrants and their ancestors—all of us—built this country and will continue to renew it.
Archbishop Gomez’s letter comes on the heels of the USCCB joining the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and the Presbyterian Church (USA) to submit an amicus curiae brief in the case (over 50 other faith-based groups signed a separate brief as well) and the inclusion of this issue as an example of threats to religious freedom in the bishops’ letter on the subject earlier this month.
In preparation for the arguments, more than 100 national faith leaders and local DC clergy kicked off a 48 hour vigil at a press conference this morning to highlight the law’s immoral motivations and dangerous consequences.
Rabbi Noam Marans, Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations for the American Jewish Committee, explained the coalition’s goal:
The diverse religious leadership of America joins together as the conscience of this great nation, to urge our judges to strike down Arizona’s SB 1070 and fulfill the American promise of opportunity and fairness for our immigrant community, reflected in the Biblical proposition that we are all created in God’s image.
Also speaking was Rev. John T. Crestwell, Jr., Associate Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis; Sr. Pat McDermott, RSM, President, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Father Peter Lyons, TOR, of the Franciscan Action Network; Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing for Sojourners; and Rev. Noel Anderson, Church World Service.