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Archive for the ‘faith-based’ Category

Kansas clergy rebuke governor’s decree on Syrian refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 5, 2015


A coalition of Kansas clergy is denouncing Governor Sam Brownback’s executive order banning resettlement of Syrian refugees in Kansas. Like 29 other republican governors, Brownback has no legal standing in immigration issues but has decided to scapegoat Syrian refugees to create an image of being “tough” on security matters. The clergy offered the governor a petition signed by 2000 faith leaders telling governors to stop the hostile rhetoric and proclamations against the refugees. The group also condemns the interference in religious freedom represented by the governor’s attempt to prevent them from helping refugees. An article in The Topeka Capital-Journal explains:

A coalition of Kansas clergy anxious about the fate of Syrian refugees fleeing a war zone Wednesday urged the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback to honor biblical text urging believers to offer hospitality and compassion for the homeless, poor and hungry.

The group offered to Brownback a petition signed by representatives of more than 50 Kansas churches, as well as a copy of a national petition signed by 2,000 faith leaders requesting state governors turn aside their rhetoric and quit impeding the ability of organizations to resettle Syrian refugees. In Kansas, the church leaders requested Brownback rescind an executive order designed to stall Syrian immigration…

The Rev. Kenny Clewett, pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, said during the clergy news conference at the Capitol that screening of potential immigrants by U.S. officials was sufficient to keep the country safe without forcing citizens to forsake Christian values.

“We are very concerned that our elected officials are proposing to limit our right and our ability to welcome refugees,” Clewett said. “We refuse to have that taken from us”…

Maureen Lunn, who represented Jacob’s Well Church in Kansas City, Mo., said governors who acted to slow immigration of Syrians based on a notion attackers in Paris reached France while disguised as refugees had relied on flawed information. She urged political leaders, who often make note of their personal faith, to walk in shoes of a displaced Syrian.

“From a faith perspective,” she said, “a refugee entails almost every single attribute that Jesus describes for the type of people we are called to open our arms to. People who are poor, needy, sick, homeless or widowed. All of these things describe a refugee”… Read more here

Posted in faith-based, Kansas, religion, right-wing, Syrian | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Banning Martian Refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 28, 2015

ban martians 1

A THREAT to American values.

Pickens County Council in S. Carolina has cast a unanimous resolution prohibiting Syrian refugees from being resettled in the county. The director of the Spartanburg SC branch of World Relief Rev. Jason Lee describes the Council’s actions as “mind-boggling”, and that “[they] can pass resolutions for Martians not to come too, because they’re not coming either.” World Relief has been resettling refugees in Spartanburg and Greenville counties, not Pickens County. Angry conservative tea party activists have spent a lot of energy sounding the alarm bells about Syrian refugees in Pickens County, where no one is resettling them. One zany activist stood before members of the Pickens County Republican Party at a meeting at Liberty Auditorium and warned the hushed crowd of about 40, breathless in anticipation, that the refugee program is part of a “CONSPIRACY orchestrated by insiders” in Washington, designed to create “a ONE-PARTY POLITICAL SYSTEM” and “enlarge a populace DEPENDENT on BIG GOVERNMENT!” She went on to charge up the crowd with panic and fear, telling attendees that the influx of “Muslims from the Middle East”, most of them men of “FIGHTING AGE”, is part of the Islamic State’s “STEALTH ATTACK” on “AMERICAN VALUES!” One almost envisions scary Middle East terrorists whipping and abusing little frightened and defenseless American values, cringing in fear. Meanwhile refugees resettled, clear over in Spartanburg county, are “persecuted Christians from the Congo and Burma. Four…from Iraq and the rest…from other African nations.” No plans for Syrian refugees being resettled there either. In fact, no one has resettled Syrian refugees at all in all of South Carolina. Nevertheless, Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill made the political pronouncement that he doesn’t like “the way” resettlement is being done, and insisted that a workshop be scheduled to answer all of his “questions.” Lee at World Relief said he invited the legislative delegations of both Greenville and Spartanburg counties to a meeting to discuss the issue, yet not one lawmaker showed up. Articles in the Greenville News by Ron Barnett attempt to explain the strange and bewildering tea party and Republican political goings on:

Members of the Pickens County Republican Party recently heard a chilling update on the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program at Liberty Auditorium….

Critics of the alarmist sentiment, however, say the meeting only serves to show how unfounded some of the fears are regarding a mass influx of immigrants that simply aren’t expected to come to Pickens County. The differing opinions on extreme opposite ends of the spectrum reveal an emotional tug-of-war that exists in the Upstate…

This week, a posting on the Pickens County News Facebook page warned: “Do you want these children of unvetted Syrians coming in to your child’s public school and sitting beside your child?… cause if one of these kids brings a real bomb clock into the classroom and your child gets blown up…whose fault is it?”…

The Rev. Keith Ray, pastor of Clemson United Methodist Church and a former member of the Greenville County School Board, said he’s concerned about “an unfounded panic” over refugees coming here.

“We don’t need meetings to create panic and fear based on our own prejudices,” he said. “Instead, understanding more about the plight of those who are having to be relocated would be most helpful…

The State Department, which oversees the program, paints a different picture…

All refugees who enter the United States are screened by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, the official said… Read more here


While those who oppose refugee resettlement here have been making their voices heard the loudest lately, there’s also a large contingent of people who support offering help to those seeking asylum, according to Lee, the World Relief official.

More than 40 pastors and others representing churches across the Upstate signed a letter of support, he said…

[Rev. Jason Lee, the director of the Spartanburg branch of World Relief] took issue with claims that the Syrians coming in are “unvetted.”

“There’s no such thing as an unvetted refugee that comes in, period,” he said.

It takes 18-24 months to go through a 13-step security and health screening process before they can be approved, he said.

He said he invited the legislative delegations of Greenville and Spartanburg counties to a meeting in June to discuss the issue, and not one Upstate lawmaker attended.

“There’s a lot of political motivation in this and that’s unfortunate, because we’re driven by Christian charity,” he said…

Miji Bell, a spokesman for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the only other organization in the state approved to resettle refugees, said no Syrians have been relocated here. Read more here

Posted in faith-based, right-wing, South Carolina, Spartanburg, Syrian, World Relief, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

No birth control referrals for raped unaccompanied immigrant girls, say two faith based contractors

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 5, 2015

girl_symbol Refugee resettlement contractors World Relief and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) are demanding religious exemption for the requirement that federally funded organizations that house unaccompanied migrant children provide victims of sexual abuse with “unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis, in accordance with professionally accepted standards of care, where appropriate under medical or mental health professional standards.” In an obvious abuse of religious exemption standards they claim that a mere referral to emergency contraception or related would offend their personal religious beliefs, nor should they have to notify federal agency personnel who could instead do the referral. Essentially they want to stand in the way of unaccompanied immigrant girls and prevent them from getting the pregnancy services they chose. This, while taking public funds for a public program to care for these girls. The USCCB had also wanted a federal grant to provide services to victims of human trafficking, while similarly denying the women and girls access to a full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care. Thankfully the group did not get the grant. The details of this most recent religious exemption abuse are found in an article at Think Progress:

Estimates suggest that anywhere between 60 and 80 percent of migrant women and girls are raped on their journey as they travel across the southern United States border. But many of the organizations that provide medical care to these migrants are refusing to provide emergency contraception or make pregnancy-related referrals to girls who have been raped. What’s more, the religious organizations that operate these groups are opposing a move by the Obama administration to address epidemic rape of young unaccompanied migrants by requiring contraceptive care. During last year’s border surge, a total of 68,541 unaccompanied children streamed through the southern Texas border from Latin America. Almost half of the children apprehended by border patrol agents were girls. Rape and sexual assault are “major motivating factors” for why girls flee their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, a Women’s Refugee Commission report found last October. The report stated that children on the run who traveled with smuggling guides known as coyotes reported sexual abuse, including one child who “told of how women and girls were kept in a separate room and could be heard screaming while being raped.” And even once in the United States, some migrants alleged that sexual assault (especially among LGBT detaineestook place in detentionsometimes by guards. Those children may not receive adequate care after border patrol agents pass them onto group shelter homes, the majority of which are operated by faith-based organizations such as the Baptist Child and Family Services (BCFS), which received $190 million in a single grant last year. But it was the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which received roughly $22.1 million, that sent a letter last week objecting to a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that would require federally funded organizations that house unaccompanied migrant children to provide victims of sexual abuse with “unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis, in accordance with professionally accepted standards of care, where appropriate under medical or mental health professional standards.” The rule includes a clause that would allow faith-based organizations to offer external pregnancy-related referrals for unaccompanied children… Read more here

Posted in Catholic, children, churches, faith-based, Guatemalan, Honduran, ORR, safety, Salvadoran, teenagers, teens, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, unaccompanied minors, USCCB, women, World Relief, young adults | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

USSCB – 97.7% of budget came from federal grants and contracts

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 29, 2012

According to a blurb in the Catholic Culture publication in 2011 The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB) received 92.5% of its budget from federal grants and contracts. Apparently the person writing the piece does not understand that the refugee travel loan fees also derive from the federal government, meaning that USSCB actually gets 97.7% of its budget from the federal government (refugee resettlement contractors may keep 25% of the travel loan money that the US government requires refugees to pay back for their travel to the US). The USSCB is the largest refugee resettlement contractor in the US and resettled 14,285 people–25% of refugees entering the United States in 2011. Strangely, the highly touted “private sector” contribution factor of the “public-private cooperation” management style of the resettlement program derives mainly from federal government oversight agencies such as the US Department of State. Catholic Culture has the numbers:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services has published its 2011 annual report.

According to the report, over 92.5% of Migration and Refugee Services’ $72.1 million budget came from federal grants and contracts, while under $25,000 came from private donations.

Nearly 80% of expenses were allotted to diocesan programs and direct assistance to refugees and other clients. In 2011, Migration and Refugee Services resettled 14,285 people–25% of refugees entering the United States… Read more here

source: Migration and Refugee Services: 2011 annual report (USCCB)

Posted in Catholic, faith-based, funding, public/private partnership, State Department, Travel Loan Program, USCCB | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Segue Refugee Partners Ministries Hopes To Convert Bhutanese In Dallas

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 23, 2012

A Baptist organization is hoping to lead Nepali-Bhutanese refugees in Dallas away from their Hindu cultural roots. Segue Refugee Partners Ministries will help out the refugees as a prelude to their agenda.

Will they be honest and upfront with the refugees and tell them what the plan is?

…Matthew Johnston and Elizabeth Hall lead Segue Refugee Partners Ministries, the nonprofit organization… They have been connecting with Bhutanese refugees for more than a year…Segue’s vision is to build partnerships and relationships between these Bhutanese refugees and American Christians who are willing to relate and help out in whatever way they can. The refugees have a variety of needs, from help them deal with insurance-related issues regarding health care to finding jobs in the city. The hope is also to lead the refugees from a Hindu background into a relationship with Jesus Christ… Read more here

Posted in Baptist, converting refugees, Dallas/Fort Worth, faith-based, Hindu, Nepali Bhutanese | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Catholic Charities Galveston-Houston CEO Resigns

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 7, 2012

The CEO/president of Catholic Charities Galveston-Houston is resigning. This follows the fallout from their attempted cover-up of the sexual assault of a refugee boy in one of group’s shelters, and then their lack of answers to key questions about the cover-up. An article in the Houston Chronicle covers the resignation:

The CEO/president of Catholic Charities Galveston-Houston has announced plans to resign after more than six years at the helm of the nonprofit organization. The organization confirmed the departure of Bonna Kol in a statement, but did not respond to questions about whether her resignation was connected to the fallout from a sexual abuse scandal at St. Michael’s Home for Children…

…The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement issued a scathing report that found the organization’s senior management “deliberately misled” federal officials about a July 1 sexual assault involving children at one of the shelters run through its St. Michael’s Home for Children.

The resettlement office accused senior managers of doctoring incident reports and failing to immediately seek medical treatment for the boy, who allegedly was anally penetrated, records show…

…Two Catholic Charities executives resigned and two other managers were fired in connection with the incident… Read more here

Posted in Catholic, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, children, faith-based, Houston, ORR, safety | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Perdue Farms Chicken Processing Plant Recruits Refugees From Greensboro NC

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 29, 2012

The World Relief office in Greensboro has been coordinating with a Perdue Farms chicken processing plant in Rockingham that has been recruiting Myanmar and Nepali-Bhutanese refugees. An article in the Richmond County Daily Journal has more:

Employment assistants from the organization World Relief drove eight Burmese and Nepalese refugees from Greensboro on Thursday morning to apply for jobs at Perdue Farms in Rockingham.

When Townsend, Inc. chicken processing plants closed around the Triad area last summer, over 400 workers were left without jobs. According to Susie Jordan, English instructor for Perdue Farms, Perdue welcomes anyone with experience processing chicken…

…“We are employment assistance,” said World Relief Employment Assistant Sylvia Bikusa. “We help with training, learning how to fill out applications, everything they need to help them become self-sufficient…

…While in town, getting settled at their new jobs, the refugees will likely stay with friends and relatives, said Jordan. She is hoping to set up a temporary apartment for commuters to stay in during the week while they prepare to have their families relocate to Rockingham…

…“The [World Relief] office in Durham called and said they are looking for workers, too,” said Jordan… Read more here

Another WordPress blog mentions that in April 2010 there were also about 100 Myanmar refugees working at the Perdue Farms plant in Lumber Bridge — not far from Rockingham.

Posted in Burma/Myanmar, faith-based, Greensboro, Nepali Bhutanese, poultry production, Raleigh-Durham, secondary migration, refugee, World Relief | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Best Practices — Placing Refugee Families With Other Refugees Without Agreement?

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 26, 2012

This topic seems to fall under the “Do not do” section of the best practices category. According to the State Department resettlement contracts, resettlement contractors are not to place incoming refugee cases in temporary housing, rather they should place refugees in their own permanent housing, e.g. an apartment rental, upon their arrival. Nevertheless, some contractors do this despite the requirement (I understand that once in a while refugees arrive in the US on short notice from the State Department, but what other excuse contractors are using for use of temporary housing I am not aware of). According to a July 2009 monitoring inspection, World Relief Aurora – an affiliate of World Relief in Aurora, Illinois – is one of the contractors that government inspectors found which have failed to place refugees into their own housing upon arrival. In this case, the agency placed refugees into the homes of unrelated refugee host families.

Monitors visited four refugee families and found that none of the adults were working yet, even though they were eager to work — one family had been in Aurora for four months, and another refugee man three months earlier. In addition, none of the refugees had received an initial health screening, which the Operational Guidance contract document requires be done within 30 days of their arrival. With regard to the housing:

…All of the refugees that monitors visited except [an] Iraqi family had been placed with unrelated refugee host families for a few days when they first arrived until they could sign leases for their own apartments. No form of written agreement showed what the host families had agreed to provide or for what period. The affiliate assured monitors that they provide bedding and other supplies, and that families usually volunteered. The Burmese Chin refugee told monitors that his bed and other items belonged to a previous tenant who had moved away. A case note in his file also revealed that the affiliate had asked the refugee to pay a previous tenant’s rent share for a period before the refugee moved in. The young Karenni refugee did not understand what furnishings were his to keep if he moved out… Read report here

Here is a snippet from a February 2010 posting which shows World Relief has long-placed refugees into non-permanent housing upon arrival.

… [a] Burundian refugee woman in Boise should not have lived with church members after initially arriving in Boise. The State Department’s Admissions Office has repeatedly warned World Relief affiliates (here, here and here) that this practice is prohibited…

Posted in best practices, Chicago, Cooperative Agreement, faith-based, housing, Karenni, late health screenings, Operational Guidance, World Relief | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

World Relief Setting Up Operations in Oshkosh

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 22, 2012

Oh gosh. World Relief, in my opinion one of the public’s most intransigent and problem-plagued refugee resettlement contractors, continues to spread itself out (problems including refusing to hire an interpreter because he was Muslim, partner church staff and members moving into apartment complexes with refugees to “foster deeper relationships”, alienating other partner churches and having refugee clients work without pay, and placing new refugees in other refugee clients’ homes without agreements.) The group will soon open a new office in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and may begin resettling its first group of refugees in February. A reader-submitted announcement about the office opening is found at The Oshkosh Northwestern:

International humanitarian agency World Relief will open an office in Oshkosh this month. With approval and funding from the U.S. Department of State, World Relief has selected the Fox Cities as a Wisconsin base for a nationwide program of refugee resettlement and support.

Longtime Oshkosh resident Norm Leatherwood will direct this office and UW Oshkosh Human Services graduate Sarah Kurer will serve as a case-worker and Resettlement and Placement Program coordinator…

…As an agency partner with the U.S. Department of State for the past 30 years, World Relief has assisted more than 200,000 victims of persecution resettle as legal immigrants in the United States…

…While details are still being finalized, the first group of refugees could move to Oshkosh by the middle of February… Read more here

Posted in churches, evangelical, faith-based, Oshkosh, World Relief | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Domestic Missionaries Set Their Sights On “The Younger Set” Refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 29, 2011

According to the Global Frontiers Missions website, they are a Christian missionary group targeting those whom they call “THUMB people” – so-called “Tribal” people, Hindus, nonreligious people (the so-called ”Unreligious”), Muslims, and Buddhists (apparently they see little value in other people’s cultures, although I suspect they enjoy foreign foods). The organization seeks to “multiply”, that is, to evangelize and “discipline” refugees and immigrants to the point that they can “go back” and “spread” — among their own people — the group’s brand of faith. The organization recently branched out to target refugees, immigrants and international students in Houston and Clarkston, GA, but also operates in Jacksonville, Los Angeles, New York City, and the Twin Cities. They find that young people’s minds are apparently more pliable for religious conversion, and that they can use children to get at the parents. OneNewsNow has the story:

A missionary organization is focusing on spreading the gospel in two communities in the United States that are very diverse.

Houston, Texas has drawn immigrants from many countries, and according to Grant Haynes of Global Frontiers Missions(GFM), Clarkston, Georgia has done likewise…

“We help teach English. We help run an Internet café where people can learn typing skills and take the job skills that they have in their countries to come up with a resume that helps make sense in this country and [helps] them with job placement,” Haynes details. “We help their kids with after-school programs.”

He adds that GFM has found that the younger set especially is becoming bilingual, and many are open to the gospel… Read more here


Nathan Harper has moved to the Atlanta area to join Global Frontier Missions in ministering to a large concentration of immigrants and refugees…

…The ministry will also be reaching out to children, which Harper says is a good avenue to reach the parents. Global Frontier Missions has a similar project in Houston and is hoping to utilize the same approach to present the gospel to immigrants elsewhere in the United States… Read more here

Posted in Atlanta, Buddhist, children, Christian, churches, converting refugees, faith-based, Hindu, Houston, Muslim | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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