Keep Families Together
At the core of our Christian and Episcopal identity lies the fundamental belief that family is sacred, and that we are all children of God called together in one holy human family. The old and new testaments give us several examples of the sanctity of the parent-child bond. In the Old Testament, Moses’ mother looked on in fear as she hid her baby in a basket to escape the murderous injustice of Pharoah on the Hebrew people; and in the New Testament, Jesus’ parents fled Bethlehem for Egypt in fear of King Herod’s capture and slaughter of their baby, the Christ child. These biblical examples teach us the importance of the bonds of kinship that draw us evermore into God’s holy and nurturing love.
Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry has joined other faith leaders in denouncing this policy, “As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the children and families that will suffer due to this policy and urge the Administration to stop their policy of separating families.” The U.S. Policy to separate families--including placing infants, toddlers, and older children in detention camps on their own--is immoral and goes against what we as Christians believe. The effects of this policy have a lasting impact on the mental, spiritual, and emotional health of children. As you know, healthy infant and child development depends upon supportive and low-stress environments. Separation from parents and family, coupled with traumatic relocation, produces a toxic stress effect on infants and children and, if prolonged, can fundamentally alter and disrupt brain development, producing long term effects on healthy development well into adulthood (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/how-the-toxic-stress-of-family-separation-can-harm-a-child). While President Trump has signed an executive order to halt future separation of families at detention centers at the southern border, there is much recovery ahead for the thousands of infants and children who have been entered into the foster care system and whose reunion with their parents is uncertain.
At St. Bart’s, we pride ourselves on our radical welcome to all God’s children. Please join me in calling your state senator and members of congress to continue to demand justice for children and families who have been separated, and for families seeking asylum who continue to be detained a our border.
I also commend this prayer to you and your families to integrate into your home prayer life:
God of protection, whose Son fled violence from his own home with Joseph and Mary and sought refuge in a foreign land, hear the cries of all who suffer because of hatred, war, violence, greed, and famine. Help us to peacefully mend our divisions, that all you have created in this world may be whole. (Taken from Episcopal Migration Ministries, Prayers of the People, Diocese of Texas)
To learn more about how to participate in the Episcopal Church Episcopal Migration Ministries, click here.
Lucy Breidenthal Bernardin