Comments Monday, May 8, from Lana Heath de Martinez, Welcoming All Coordinator at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, outside the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond as 13 judges held a hearing on the Trump Travel Ban:
“The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is calling Virginians to put your faith into action! All people of faith must stand together against xenophobia and hate that targets our neighbors. This xenophobic, discriminatory travel ban is just one more way in which the current administration’s immigration policy separates families and severs the fabric of our society.
The Virginia Interfaith Center and our faith partners demand a Virginia in which all of our residents are safe and free. Safe to travel with our families, safe from discrimination and hateful intimidation. Free to pursue our dreams, free to fully participate in society. The travel ban – much like the deportation dragnet – skewers hard-working people, ripping families apart and leaving behind a sea of trauma. We are aggressively working to create sanctuary spaces in our localities, schools and places of worship throughout the Commonwealth. We will not stop until our vision for a Welcoming Virginia comes to fruition.
The interfaith community revels in our differences but unites seamlessly under the banner of our shared values: love of neighbor, welcoming the stranger, caring for the vulnerable and marginalized. We would not be who we are today – as an organization, as a commonwealth, as a nation – without contributions from many different schools of thought and diverse global perspectives. Policies that dehumanize any of our neighbors harm our entire community.
We call on all who support this ban to examine your intrinsic motivation. Fear and love cannot both win. They coexist for all of us in a field of tension, and I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words regarding the tension inherent in the collective struggle for justice. Dr. King wrote about “negative peace” as the absence of tension and “positive peace” as the presence of justice. Justice and peace do not mean for us the absence of tension.
Fear and love will coexist, but cannot both win. And fear hurts our neighbors. It hurts when the administration makes policy born out of bias. It hurts when members of the majority public build walls around our relationships, creating a homogeneous echo chamber where we can be comfortable and alternative viewpoints are securely kept out.
Fear hurts when supporters and allies never put more than one toe on the line because of our own fear. This is not the time for a cost-benefit analysis; So often we are hurting our neighbors because we draw lines in the sand and say I will only walk with you this far. This is the moment to push through the limits of our love for our neighbors. My tradition tells me that loving my neighbor means walking through every barrier, fire and darkness together. That is the challenge for all people of faith today. Erase the lines and divisions constructed by fear and participate in this collective struggle to bring true peace and justice to our Muslim sisters and brothers. That is how we will begin to truly love our neighbors, putting our faith into action.
Call to action:
Get to know your neighbors. If you are not impacted by these policies, have the hard conversations with people in your circles. People who might support these policies. Challenge their fear.
Support the “Sanctuary For All” movement, making our localities schools and places of worship safe and free for all people.
Join us in contacting legislators, marching, holding vigils, and other political actions that stand to uphold not a political party but our common humanity.”
(From left) Rabbi Michael Knopf, Temple Beth-El in Richmond, the Rev. Wallace Adams-Riley, the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Imam Ammar Amonette of the Islamic Center of Virginia outside the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond on Monday. Photo by Bilal Al-Quraish