An Open Letter To The Honorable Doug Ducey, Governor of The State of Arizona
November 18th, 2015
Dear Governor Ducey,
We write to you today to express our deep concern regarding the call to halt the placement of refugees in the State of Arizona. It is from our deep-rooted faith traditions that we speak regarding the moral and ethical responsibility to care for victims of war who are displaced and seeking refuge among us.
The Syrian refugee crisis is the worst humanitarian crisis since World War 2 according to multiple global governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations. Over 4 million Syrians have fled their homes due to the world’s inability to find a solution in Syria. Millions of people have fled to escape war, poverty and almost certain death to find a safe haven where families can live without fear.
Our religious traditions state clearly that we are to welcome the stranger, to provide for those who seek refuge. It has been stated over 30 times in the Torah for Jews to remember the historical experience of being a stranger in another land. Because of this experience, the stranger should be treated with empathy. Christians hold strongly to the teachings in Matthew 25 that demonstrate God’s great concern and directives as to how we are to treat those in need in our midst. In the Muslim tradition, more than 100 verses in the Qur’an state that compensation is similar to action; those who feed others will be fed, those who shelter others will be sheltered, those who relieve others will be relieved.
As faith based institutions and organizations that regularly work with and provide services to Arizona’s refugee population, we are greatly concerned that the decision to halt the placement of refugees will contribute to xenophobic rhetoric and retaliation against refugee communities. We understand that some are fearful after the recent attacks and brutality suffered around the world. However, we must recognize that refugees are themselves victims of this suffering. In refusing to provide a safe place, we are denying them basic human rights and doubly victimizing them in return. The truth is, the United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001 and no refugee has ever attempted to carry out a terrorist attack in the United States.
Historically, Arizona has been proud to serve as a friendly environment to the refugee families who have escaped unimaginably harsh circumstances in pursuit of a better life. They have become part of the fabric of what makes Arizona so great, contributing to our labor force, becoming business owners and model community members.
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As people of conscience, it is with utmost urgency that we call for the reconsideration of any discussion to halt the placement of refugees in our state. Rather, it is incumbent upon us to welcome those who are most in need – in accordance with faith directives, our morals, our ethics, and our American values. We appreciate your attention and it is our great desire to be in dialogue with you and policy makers around these issues of great importance.
The Council on American Islamic Relations of Arizona
Arizona Faith Network
Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata, United Methodist Church, Desert Southwest Conference
Rev. Brad Monroe, Grand Canyon and De Cristo Presbyteries, Presbytery Pastor
Rev. Erin Tamayo, Executive Director AZ Faith Network, Grand Canyon Presbytery, PC (USA)
Rev. Tully M. Fletcher IV, AZ Faith Network Board Member, Associate Pastor Orangewood Presbyterian.
Rev. Marc McDonald, Chaplain- Flagstaff Arizona
Rev. Doug Bland, AZ Faith Network Board Member, Tempe Community Christian Church (Disciples)
Pastor Sarah Stadler-Ammon, ELCA, AZ Faith Network Board Member
Sarah King, AZ Faith Network Board Member
Fr. Michael Diskin, President Arizona Faith Network
Rev. Rock R. Fremont Jr. United Church of Christ, AZ Faith Network Board Member
American Muslim Women’s Association of Arizona
Muslim Students Association at ASU
Islamic Cultural Center of Tempe
Arizona Muslim Police Advisory Board
Islamic Community Center of Phoenix
Arizona Cultural Academy
Muslim American Society of Arizona
Islamic Center of the Northeast Valley
United Islamic Association of Arizona
Islamic Center of North Phoenix
Rev. Alison Harrington, Southside Presbyterian Church, Tucson
Pastor Sue Ringler – Vicar – SW Region of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, Guardian Angels Catholic Community, Chair – Tempe Interfaith Fellowship, AZ Faith Network Board Member
Rev. Jeff Proctor- Murphy, Dayspring United Methodist Church
Rabbi Susan Schanerman, DSJS, Congregation Nefesh Soul
Rev. Chad- Joseph Sundin, OSBCn, Chaplain, Annunciation Campus Ministry at ASU, Vicar, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Parish
Rev. Lowell Byall, Chaplain, Honor Health Hospitals, PC (USA)
Tamera Zivic, PhD, Executive Director/ CEO WHEAT
Johnny Martin, AZ Faith Network Board Member, President of Sun Devils Are Better Together
Rev. Al Gephart, Pastor Emeritus, University Presbyterian Church, Theological Dialogue Commission, Chair, AZ Faith Network Board Member
Rabbi Jason Bonder, Assistant Rabbi/ Educator, Temple Emanuel of Tempe
Rev. Elaine Groppenbacher LCSW MDiv, SW Region, Ecumenical Catholic Communion
Rev. Andy Burnette, Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Rev. Edward J. Walsh, CoPastor, Guardian Angels Catholic Community
Chris Gonzalez, Missio Dei Communities
Kevin Platt, Missio Dei Communities