Evangelical women and the bishop of El Paso are among those responding to the loss of life and harsh treatment of migrants arriving in Texas.
We Welcome, a grassroots community of evangelical women, has sent an open letter urging Gov. Greg Abbott to remember Jesus’ call “to see every person as a whole human made in the image and likeness of God, worthy of the same dignity and respect that we would show Jesus himself.” The letter, which remains open, had more than 775 signatories when it was sent late last week.
“The border measures that we are seeing in Texas go against Christian values that the state has proudly protected in the past such as life and family,” said Tess Clarke, Director of We Welcome. “Inhumane treatment would not translate into secure borders. We need policies that uphold human dignity and support the interests of the American people.”
“Our policies along the border should reflect our commitment to safeguarding human life and upholding the principles of a just and merciful society,” said Mark Seitz, Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso and a Forum board member. “As people of faith, we are called to be compassionate to those who are vulnerable as we protect citizens and immigrants from those who would threaten their security. The pursuit of justice does not require the sacrifice of compassion. We must recognize the inherent dignity of every individual. Our shared responsibility to protect and uplift life must extend to the vulnerable among us.”
Other Texans of faith are speaking out as well, including members of Women of Welcome, a community of evangelical women dedicated to understanding God’s heart for the immigrant and refugee through Scripture.
“As a fourth generation Texan, I support policies that protect our state’s border from criminal activity. And as a follower of Christ, I advocate for procedures that honor the God-given dignity and worth of those desiring to enter,” said Christina Crenshaw, a professor, researcher, writer and speaker who advocates for the integration of faith and culture. “Our state policies should not only protect our borders but also uphold the pro-life and pro-family virtues Texas espouses. We can do both; these are not mutually exclusive values.”
“Texan hospitality means embracing the stranger with love and care,” said Jamie Ivey, an author, speaker and podcast host. “Our border policies should reflect our commitment to treating all people as God’s creations, with the same respect and empathy we extend to our own families.”
Heather MacFayden, author and host of the “Don’t Mom Alone” parenting podcast, expressed concerns in a comment on a Women of Welcome Instagram video: “I am saddened by the inhumane treatment of men/women/children created in the image of God at our Texas border. As the daughter of a politician (who mentored Mike Pence) I understand the complexities of crafting solid immigration policies and maintaining safe borders. My prayer for you and your constituents is to pray for the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see the least of these. To treat individuals fleeing violence with the dignity and care we would hope to receive if we were in a similar situation. To consider all lives as precious and valued by God.”
“If Texas leadership claims they are Christian, pro-family, and pro-life, the policies that they continue to enact along the border are counter to all of these beliefs,” said Bri Stensrud, Director of Women of Welcome. “Children and women are suffering the consequences of these deterrence measures and face increased vulnerability while being separated from their fathers and husbands. Secure borders and compassion are not mutually exclusive concepts. We can and must do better.” (Stensrud is based in Colorado.)
“My heart aches for the loss of life among migrants in recent weeks, and for the harsh treatment migrants are enduring. But these faith leaders’ voices are a light,” said Jennie Murray, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “We hope Gov. Abbott will listen to them and uphold the dignity of each human life created in the image of God.”