Statement on Forced Family Separation

Caring for the most vulnerable is not optional; it is a calling from Christ. We believe this calling means that we have a responsibility to speak up for and take action to help children who have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. With this statement, the Reformed Church in America condemns the separation of children from their parents and calls for a more biblical, humane approach.

RCA Urges Support of Immigrant Families

In April 2018, the Trump Administration rolled out a zero-tolerance policy of arresting and criminally prosecuting all adults apprehended by border control for illegal entry. Under this policy, when adults are arrested, they get separated from their children. Even those who are seeking asylum—a legally protected right—get prosecuted and separated from their children.

President Trump signed an executive order to end the policy on Wednesday afternoon, June 20. Although this is encouraging news, many challenges and questions still remain. The administration says it will continue its zero-tolerance policy of prosecuting all adults stopped by border patrol, and many questions still remain about how families will be able to stay together and in what conditions.

Given the seriousness of this issue and the questions that remain, we in the Reformed Church in America believe our Christian witness still compels an informed and biblical response to the situation. So it is in this hour that we make a bold, biblical, conscientious statement that affirms our hopes for this country and for those that are seeking the privileges and freedoms the U.S. has to offer.

We recognize the intent of immigration policies that seek to protect U.S. borders and U.S. citizens. However, we condemn the policy of forced family separation and urge the Trump Administration to find more ethical, humane approaches that preserve the family unit as people seek asylum or citizenship status.

The trauma that is inflicted on children when families are forcibly separated has devastating immediate and long-term consequences. Studies show that children who are separated from their parents are more likely to exhibit delinquent behavior, an inability to empathize with others, long-term psychological conditions such as PTSD, and difficulties with memory and impulse control.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we’re compelled to practice a gospel that is “pure and undefiled”—to “care for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). Caring for the most vulnerable is not optional; it is a calling from Christ. As part of this calling, when defenseless children are torn from their parents, we believe we have a responsibility to respond.

So we pray. We pray for the reunification of families. We pray for the healing of children who have been traumatized and for them to have strength and comfort while they are away from their parents. We pray for people to find homes free from conflict, extreme poverty, and war.

We speak up. We call for more humane, biblical approaches to enforcing U.S. laws at the border and for the reunification of families that have been separated.

We take action. We seek to participate in meaningful work that minimizes and helps heal the traumatic impact on children and families who are separated. And we urge all RCA congregations to join us in these efforts.

Although the challenges are great, we have hope that God will lead us toward a more biblical, humane, and loving way of treating the strangers in our midst.

In Christ,

Eddy Alemán
General secretary

Eliza Cortés Bast
Coordinator for Local Missional Engagement

Earl James
Coordinator of Cultural Agility and Advocacy

Paul Boice
Assistant secretary

Jill Ver Steeg
Director of transformational engagement

Karen Bogerd
Operations manager for Global Mission

Andrew Bossardet
Coordinator for equipping thriving congregations

Terry DeYoung
Coordinator for Disability Concerns

Elizabeth Testa
Coordinator for Women's Transformation and Leadership

Annalise Radcliffe
Coordinator for Next Generation Engagement

Ken Neevel
Director of development and facilitation

Monica Schaap Pierce
Ecumenical associate

Stephanie Soderstrom
Coordinator for Volunteer Engagement


Sign up for email updates to stay in the loop about immigration and related RCA ministries

Read the letter sent to the Trump administration calling for immigration reform, including solutions for DACA and family separations.


Questions? Contact Earl James, coordinator of Cultural Agility and Advocacy, at ejames@rca.org or Eliza Cortés Bast, coordinator for Local Missional Engagement, at ebast@rca.org.


Immigration webinar opportunity

Tuesday, July 10

This webinar will equip you and your church to advocate for and support our immigrant brothers and sisters, especially children who are separated from their families in a foreign land. We’re offering the webinar in two different time slots. We're anticipating webinars will last 60-90 minutes. Sign up for the time that works best for you below, and you’ll be emailed a link to join the conversation.

12:30 p.m. (Eastern Time)

7:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)


Resources for you and your church


Support from RCA creeds and confessions

 

HEIDELBERG CATECHISM

 

Q&A 4

Q. What does God’s law require of us?

A. Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22:37-40:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’1 This is the greatest and first commandment.

“And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’2

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

1 Deut. 6:5

2 Lev. 19:18

Q&A 107

Q. Is it enough then that we do not murder our neighbor in any such way?

A. No. By condemning envy, hatred, and anger God wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves,1 to be patient, peace-loving, gentle, merciful, and friendly toward them,2 to protect them from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies.3

1 Matt. 7:12, 12:39; Rom. 12:10

2 Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:36; Rom. 12:10, 18; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 3:8

3 Ex. 23:4-5; Matt. 5:44-45; Rom. 12:20-21 (Prov. 25:21-22)

 

BELHAR CONFESSION

 

4. We believe

  • that God has revealed himself as the one who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people;
  • that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged;
  • that God calls the church to follow him in this, for God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry;
  • that God frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind;
  • that God supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans and widows and blocks the path of the ungodly;
  • that for God pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering; …
  • that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need, which implies, among other things, that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.