More than 400 faith leaders from diverse backgrounds have signed a letter asking the Trump administration and Republican National Convention to change their policy of separating families and putting immigrant children in detention camps.
The letter was organized by New Moral Majority, a brand-new organization that describes its purpose as building “a powerful political movement to inform, energize and empower people of faith to fight and win campaigns that reflect their values: Loving our neighbors by respecting human dignity and fighting for the common good.”
“Just prior to the Democratic National Convention, about 100 evangelicals made news by issuing a public letter, asking (Joe) Biden and the party to change its platform on the issue of abortion,” said Ryan Eller, co-founder of New Moral Majority. “Our letter more than triples their number and speaks to something people of faith have continually said is of unique importance to them. Republicans should immediately reconsider their move to let their party’s platform go unchanged from 2016.”
The Trump administration’s harsh policies and practices related to immigration and refugee resettlement have created a sharp divide within American Christianity, causing defections of so-called “ex-evangelicals” from the Republican Party but still stirring up the base of Trump’s evangelical support.
National news outlets reported just days before the start of this week’s Republican National Convention that Trump’s cabinet in 2018 voted to separate migrant children from their parents despite court orders to reunite separated children.
The New Moral Majority letter expresses “grave concern about the harsh anti-immigrant portions” of the Republican platform, “which has resulted in thousands of children being inhumanely ripped away from their parents.” It urges delegates to the RNC to “hear the call to compassion and vote to immediately change their platform and advocate to release the children still being detained today.”
The RNC announced it would not adopt a new platform for 2020 but instead would use the same platform as 2016 and support President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy.
The protest letter says of this action: “The current platform, and its hateful rhetoric, sends a divisive, dehumanizing message which casts immigrants as a threat rather than as beloved neighbors and contributors to our communities.”
Notable initial signers of the letter include Bill Leonard, retired seminary dean and BNG columnist from Winston-Salem, N.C.; author Shane Claiborne of Philadelphia; Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, a Baptist author and activist from Louisville, Ky.; Garrett Vickrey, a San Antonio, Texas, pastor active in Fellowship Southwest and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; and Ryon Price, a Fort Worth, Texas, pastor also active in Fellowship Southwest and CBF.
The New Moral Majority is a political action committee announced Aug. 13, putting a new spin on a name for decades associated with the Religious Right and Jerry Falwell Sr. — Moral Majority.
While faith leaders on the right have been better known for endorsing Republican candidates — Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas, for example — the New Moral Majority brings an equally partisan perspective from the left. The organization says its “primary focus will be working to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next president and vice president of the United States.”
While left-leaning faith-based PACs have been rare, several have emerged in this election cycle, according to a report in Religion News Service. That includes a Catholic social-action group called Network.
“America is done listening to so-called Christian leaders who take money from poor and working-class people under the guise of family values,” Eller said. “That doesn’t represent my faith, or the faith of millions of Christians around the country who fail to see God’s love at the center of Trump administration policies that rip children away from their families at the border, that have led to 150,000 Americans dying from COVID-19, or that call for merciless brutality and violence directed toward communities of color in America.”