January 5, 2016
The Honorable Mike Pence
Governor of Indiana
Indianapolis, IN 46024
Dear Governor Pence,
We the board of Lafayette Urban Ministry (LUM), which represents 42 churches in Greater Lafayette, kindly ask that you welcome Syrian refugees to Indiana and that you grant them the same temporary assistance provided other refugees until they find employment and become acclimated to their new home. While it is understandable that we as a state exercise due diligence by mitigating risks, we believe that it is important to be guided by our faith not our fears. While we understand that you have concerns given the challenges described by FBI Director James Comey in October, we are aware that Attorney General Loretta Lynch has since pointed out in her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee that “we have a significant and robust screening in place — a process that Europe has not been able to set up, which makes them much more vulnerable.”
We join other faith organizations in Indiana and around the country that have stepped forward to petition their respective elected officials to resume resettling Syrian refugees. We share the same sentiment as the Evangelical Immigration Roundtable, which represents 40 denominations across the country, that wrote in a letter sent to members of Congress
“Jesus himself was a refugee, and he teaches us to do unto others as we would have them do to us.”
We also echo the exhortation made by Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich in his editorial for the Chicago Sun Times, “How can we look the other way, as they huddle with their children in foreign lands with barely any shelter, clothing or food? We must not. These are our neighbors.”
The parable of the Good Samaritan is at the core of LUM’s mission and fleshes out what it means to
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
This belief which is at the foundation of our faith demands that we care for vulnerable persons regardless of their nationality and/or religion. The parallels between the parable and the moral obligation to accept Syrian refugees are indisputable and noteworthy. Given that the same thugs that assaulted and robbed the man were still at large, the Samaritan was put himself at risk by stopping and helping him. Never-the-less unlike the priest and the Levite, the Samaritan did not “pass by” the man, but “was moved” and “went to him.” While it might have have been easier to just set the man under a tree with some food and drink, the Samaritan put the man “on his animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” (Luke 10: 33-34)
We recall that there was a wave of immigrants from Southeast Asia in the 70’s and 80’s. Like the current wave of refugees from Syria , the majority of the refugees from Vietnam were political leaders, army officers, and skilled professionals escaping the communist takeover. Similarly there were fears that some of the refugees might be communist sympathizers and had ill intent toward the US. During a speech to Geneva Refugee Conference in 1979, then Vice President Walter Mondale noted “that a similar meeting 41 years before had failed to reach an agreement on the resettlement of European Jews on the eve of World War II…resulting in the death of 6 million Jews in Hitler’s death camps.” (“Educating about Immigration”; Constitutional Rights Foundation website.) We feel that it is also important to note had we failed to resettle the 120,000 refugees from Southeast Asia we would not have been enriched by the contributions of persons like Jane Luu, astronomer and co-discoverer of the Kuiper Belt and trans-Neptunian bodies, and Viet D. Dinh, former Assistant Attorney General of the United States and chief architect of the Patriot Act.
As a Christian organization we believe “that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
It is for this reason and in keeping with the commandment to love one another that we call on the State to welcome Syrian refugees and to release public assistance dollars earmarked to resettle them. Thank you for your consideration.
420 N. 4th Street
Lafayette, Indiana 47901-2213
To view the PDF version of the letter, click HERE.
The LUM Campaign for Hoosier Families encourages you to reach out to the Governor and your state legislators. Information on how you may get involved in Legislative Advocacy, HERE.
To see the LUM Bill Watch List, a list of legislation that the LUM Campaign for Hoosier Families is watching, click HERE.