Message on the Executive Order on Immigration
As a Christian university in covenant relationship with American Baptist Churches, we are particularly sensitive to the importance of religious freedom and abrogation or hindrance of the same. Baptists have been advocates for religious freedom for hundreds of years. And, the first amendment to the Constitution echoes Baptist concern on the nexus between church and state for centuries; our federal government shall not establish any religion or prohibit the free expression of any religion. I am deeply concerned that the recent executive order on immigration traduces this line. No group should be excluded based on their religious beliefs.
Eastern University is deeply committed to religious freedom and continues to be guided by our historic motto The Whole Gospel, For the Whole World. We embrace the biblical vision of the Kingdom of God presented in Acts 2 and Revelation 7 that includes every nation, tribe, people and language working, learning, living, serving and worshipping together as witnesses to the transformative power of Jesus Christ. Accordingly, our institutional values include commitments to diversity, reconciliation and justice, and we particularly seek to work with and for the poor, oppressed and suffering persons as part of our Christian discipleship.
Steps we have taken, or will take, that relate to recent and proposed actions restricting immigration and religious freedom include:
- Our Student Development office is actively assessing the impact of the recent immigration executive order on our students and working directly with official immigration offices on their behalf. If you are a student with questions about how the recent immigration ban affects you, please contact Augusta Allen, Director of International Student and Scholar Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- On February 14th Eastern University is hosting an event with immigration attorney, Mary Clark, Executive Director of Esperanza Immigration Legal Services, to help our students, faculty and staff understand the impacts of recent and proposed federal immigration action.
- Eastern University signed, along with more than 600 colleges and universities, the Pomona Statement in support of protecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students, and we recruited other institutions to do the same. You may read the Pomona Statement at https://www.pomona.edu/news/2016/11/21-college-university-presidents-call-us-uphold-and-continue-daca
- An example of a recent CCCU and NAE sponsored letter requesting the immediate resumption of the resettlement of refugees may be found here: https://www.nae.net/letter-president-trump-executive-order-refugees/ Eastern University continues to actively engage with the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), National Association for Evangelicals (NAE), National Association for Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), and others whose collective voices advocate our positions to power in Washington.
- Last week, I expressed our concerns and advocated our positions in multiple face-to-face meetings with our Senators and members of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.
In these turbulent times I encourage you to engage in prayer for our country and also for those around the world who are impacted by decisions made by our political leaders. I also encourage you to engage with your elected officials, as we continue to do.
Robert G. Duffett