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Bishop Alan M. Gates and Bishop Gayle E. Harris of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, together with Bishop Douglas J. Fisher of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, have signed a joint letter from 17 church leaders, issued today by the Massachusetts Council of Churches, opposing the White House executive action suspending refugee resettlement.

The full letter is available here.

An accompanying message from Bishop Gates to the diocesan community follows:

Dear People of the Diocese of Massachusetts,

We are struggling mightily with the turmoil of transition.  We are a nation bitterly divided.  While some argue that necessary correctives are at play, many of us feel that we are in danger of losing our moral compass.  In either case, we have no option other than to bring the core principles of our religious tradition to bear on current decisions.  Our positions as Christians are determined not by party affiliation, nor by self-interest--neither personal self-interest nor national self-interest.  Rather, our Christian positions must be determined by the core values of our faith. 

This past Sunday we read, as assigned by our lectionary cycle, from a text which speaks directly to us as people of faith caught in political tumult and ethical debate.  When the chosen people of God expressed uncertainty as to how they were to move forward faithfully, the prophet Micah spoke to them with breathtaking clarity:  “God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” [Micah 6:8]

Do justice.  Love kindness.  Walk humbly with your God.  In its stark simplicity the prophet’s mandate has given us the interpretive, moral lens through which to examine and evaluate not only our own personal decisions, but also those being made on our behalf by our national and local leaders.  In the face of any claim to rightfulness offered on behalf of a directive or policy, I find that Micah has given me the moral framework I need, asking:  Is it just?  Is it merciful?  Is it grounded in humility?

Attached you will find a statement issued jointly today by heads of a broad spectrum of Christian denominations here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The letter speaks of what we believe to be the injurious executive action restricting refugee entry and resettlement in our nation.  My own decision to sign this statement comes directly from my assessment of that executive action’s alignment with the Micah mandate, and my conclusion:  It is not just.  It is not merciful.  Humility is not here reflected.

The statement offers brief reflections on ways that we believe this policy and other similar initiatives to be inconsistent with our faith and with the ideals of this great nation.  I commend it for your prayerful consideration.



The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates

I respectfully agree with what Dan Wheeler wrote. I am now struggling with my faith as an Episcopalian. I am a compassionate and caring person yet I feel as an outcast in my church because I do not believe anyone should be in this country illegally. We have ways to legalize people and that is the map we should follow. Not to hide or deport, but to help them become legal citizens and to keep to our laws of legalized entry to this country. We are not a sanctuary country (I am hoping that is the correct term). We need to keep our people safe while continuing to embrace everyone. What happened to keeping Government and Religion separate.

From: Janice Meinelt
Location/Parish: Salisbury, MA

It is appropriate for the Episcopal Church to encourage healthy political activism among its members, but the Episcopal Church should not as an institution engage in political activism of its own, as Bishop Gates in his leadership position has unfortunately chosen to do. To do so implies that Bishop Gates speaks on behalf of all members of the Episcopal Church, when in fact regarding politics he does not.

Unfortunately, it also suggests a moral corruption of the Episcopal Church when certain Scripture is used to justify a set of politics, and yet other Scripture is discarded if it inconveniently conflicts with said politics. Scripture has historically been used to justify such abhorrent things as slavery and bigotry toward homosexuals. Does Bishop Gates also intend to take up the political causes of promoting slavery and bigotry toward homosexuals? I suspect he (rightly) does not. Due to this contradiction, however, it is difficult for a potential newcomer to avoid the conclusion that the Episcopal Church abuses its power for the sake of political goals, and is thus morally corrupt. Such a contradiction is a strategy for repelling newcomers from the Episcopal Church, not a strategy for attracting them.

I respectfully urge Bishop Gates to encourage political activism at the individual level but to cease from political activism of his own when doing so in the name of the institution of the Episcopal Church itself.

Respectfully and faithfully yours,


From: Dan Wheeler
Location/Parish: Ascension Memorial Church, Ipswich, MA

May we all come together in these troubling times to realize that we are all our brother's and sister's keepers - no matter their color, creed nationality or political persuasion.

From: Mary Pat MacKenzie
Location/Parish: St. Barnabas, Falmouth

Thank you. I am afraid this is only the first of many threats to the moral compass of our country and I pray you will continue to respond to each one of them head on.

From: Janet Boswell
Location/Parish: Epiphany, Winchester

Thank you Beloved Bishops, for speaking truth to power with the words of the Gospel, no matter how unpopular it might be!

From: Kevin Miller
Location/Parish: Epiphany Parish, Walpole

Thank you, Rev. Gates and Christian religious leaders. Your bold stand in defense of human dignity gives many of us hope. There are many people of other faith traditions as well, and those who follow no faith tradition who acknowledge our common humanity. I believe faith leaders, and political leaders in both parties have a real role to play today in bringing together a coalition of diverse people who are united in love by a respect for civil rights. Now is our time. God bless you.
Dori Pulizzi

From: Dori Pulizzi
Location/Parish: St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Bedford, MA

We are not just a country divided, but in many cases, families divided!
My husband and I have been married 44 years and it is the first time we cannot come together in this political environment. It is discouraging....we pray for God's guidance!

From: Paula Cabral
Location/Parish: Grace Church New Bedford

I was particularly moved by Micah (I posted it on FB.) A large contingent, including Thomas Brown, then went from church to Copley Square to witness. Please keep helping us to know and do the right thing in this terrible time.

From: John McConnell
Location/Parish: Epiphany, Winchester

I echo these statements mentioned above

From: Allison Zolenski
Location/Parish: Grace episcopal church