Response to Executive Orders

February 9, 2017

Statement from the President

Dear Brite Community,

As you know, on January 25, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order calling for new measures to enforce existing immigration laws and to authorize the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Two days later, President Trump signed another executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The combination of these actions has left many persons both in the United States and beyond feeling distinctly unwelcome in the United States and uncertain regarding the stance of American religious and educational institutions.

There should be no question where institutions informed by the overriding themes of the Jewish and Christian scriptures stand in relation to fundamental questions raised by these two executive orders. The scriptures call us to love all of our neighbors. While we are adept at noting distinctions of race, ethnicity, religion, culture, gender, sexuality, and country of origin, the scriptures teach that all of humanity is created in the image of God. As people of God, we are specifically enjoined to welcome the stranger.

For more than a century, Brite Divinity School has been committed to educating persons to lead in the ministry of Christ’s Church, the academy, and public life as witnesses to God’s reconciling and transforming love and justice. This mission will not be overturned by court decisions, acts of Congress, or executive orders. Seeking to practice what we teach and learn, Brite will witness to God’s reconciling and transforming love and justice by standing in solidarity with our neighbors regardless of differences in race, ethnicity, religion, culture, gender, sexuality, or country of origin.

Sincerely,
Dr. D. Newell Williams
President and Professor of Modern and American Church History

 

Statement Against Executive Directives

I am deeply troubled and concerned by recent executive directives aimed at treating all types of people and immigrants (legal immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants) as undesirables. The construction of a wall on the border of the U.S. and Mexico, the cutting of funding to sanctuary cities, and banning migration from selective Muslim countries are all actions, I believe, that contribute toward creating and sustaining a fear difference among one another.

One of Brite Divinity School’s greatest strengths is our diverse and inclusive community. We value all students, staff, and faculty, and administration members in their respective diversity and religious identities, and we value the cultivating of a community that ensures, in the spirit of the scriptures’ call for hospitality of the stranger, openness to all no matter what one’s political status or religious identity might be.

We must keep in mind that fear of diversity, fear that one’s way of life will change, and fear of lost power and privilege drive such executive directives. This fear only leads to exclusionary actions such as the executive orders, thus fostering racialized perceptions toward the targeted audience of these directives. Think not what you lose by difference but what you gain by difference.

In the spirit of the sacred scriptures and Christian tradition of welcoming difference, it is morally imperative that we make room at our communion table for all difference and not simply for those who look, speak, pray, or worship like us. It is morally imperative that we make room so that the spirit of God may challenge any directive that aims to erase the humanity of others. And it is morally imperative that we respect the otherness of our neighbors in their selfhood.

For these reasons, I stand alongside others in the Brite community in solidarity with God who is the undocumented, refugee, immigrant, and those behind all walls.

Dr. Francisco Lozada
Associate Professor of New Testament and Latina/o Church Studies,
Brite Divinity School

 

Response from Brite Student Association

We, the students of Brite Divinity School, being charged with a call for scholarship, justice, and practice, wish to make it known that we stand in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers both here in the United States and around the world. We feel the executive order signed into action last week weakens the very fabric of our nation. A nation that is made stronger and reflects more fully God’s diverse community when we recognize and include the histories of all our citizens in the narrative of the American dream and value them as a vision for the future.

We wish for it to also be known that we, the students, do not believe in an illegal human. No matter who you are, you are welcome at Brite Divinity School. We offer a community that values the whole person and rejects the rhetoric and understanding that any person is anything less than created good, whole, and in the image of their Creator.

In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “We must finally stop appealing to theology to justify our reserved silence about what the state is doing-for that is nothing but fear. ‘open your mouth for the one who is voiceless.’” This is our charge as people committed to inclusivity. We will not be silent in the face of injustice. We will not allow the privilege of many to trample of the rights of a few. We will not be silent when religion or any name of God is used as a weapon to promote the marginalization of any person.

Individually, our students have marched, protested, made calls, and sent letters expressing our firmly held beliefs that inclusivity, compassion, and love are core values of our faith traditions that must be articulated in words and deeds by every citizen and leader of the United States and the wider global community. As we move forward, the larger community will continue to come together speak out, demand justice, and continue to be a welcoming place for everyone.

Sincerely,
Representatives of the Brite Student Association