Friends of Refugees

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Archive for the ‘faith-based’ Category

Southern Baptists vote to support refugee resettlement

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 16, 2016

vote-yes

The Southern Baptist Convention have voted to approve a resolution encouraging member churches and families to welcome refugees coming to the United States. An article at Christian Post has the vote results:

Amid calls to restrict Muslim immigration, the Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution encouraging member churches and families to welcome refugees coming to the United States.

Messengers at the SBC’s annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri approved Resolution 12, titled “On Refugee Ministry,” as part of a block vote taken Wednesday on the five remaining resolutions from Tuesday.

“That we affirm that refugees are people loved by God, made in His image, and that Christian love should be extended to them as special objects of God’s mercy in a world that has displaced them from their homelands,” reads Resolution 12.

“That we encourage Southern Baptist churches and families to welcome and adopt refugees into their churches and homes as a means to demonstrate to the nations that our God longs for every tribe, tongue, and nation to be welcomed at His Throne …” Read more here

Posted in Baptist, faith-based, Muslim | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama Asked to Withdraw Legal Memo That Allows Faith-based Charities to Discriminate

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 11, 2016

Allows religious charities with federal contracts to discriminate in hiring for federally funded programs

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A group of prominent constitutional lawyers is calling on the Obama White House to revoke the 2007 Justice Department legal memo from the Bush White House that allows religious charities with federal contracts to discriminate in hiring for federally funded programs. They argue that religious groups have used the memo to refuse to provide services, including emergency contraception for human trafficking victims, that conflict with their beliefs. They give examples in which some religious groups have expanded the scope of the 2007 memo, using it as a legal justification to cherry-pick what provisions of a federal grant to fulfill. For example, when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) won a 2005 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide assistance to human trafficking victims, the bishops refused to provide contraception or abortion to the women. An article at ProPublica explains:

The Obama administration has roundly criticized states such as North Carolina and Mississippi for passing laws that allow discrimination in the name of religious freedom. But at the same time, the administration has left in place a 2007 memo from the Bush White House that allows religious charities with federal contracts to discriminate in hiring for federally funded programs.

Now, as Obama prepares to leave office, a group of prominent constitutional lawyers is calling on the Obama White House to revoke the legal memo, which they argue has been used by religious groups to refuse to provide services, including emergency contraception for human trafficking victims, that conflict with their beliefs. Their arguments are detailed in a legal analysis published this morning by Columbia Law School’s Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, which includes contributions of scholars from George Washington, Emory and Brigham Young universities, among others.

The 16-page paper is, in part, an effort to put pressure on Obama to rescind the memo, an action that does not require Congress to act. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Obama criticized the Bush Justice Department for drafting it, but as president failed to follow through…
At the very least, the authors of the Columbia analysis hope the administration formally clarifies that the memo only applies to religious hiring — and no more… Read more here

Posted in discrimination, faith-based, funding, health, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Church support increases significantly despite anti-Syrian fear rhetoric

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 10, 2016

churchDespite the nearly non-stop anti-refugee rhetoric that conservatives have spread around to play on people’s fears, churches have stepped up to help refugees in increasing numbers since the Syrian refugee crisis began last fall.  Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston is one of the agencies experiencing the increase giving.  An article in Baptist News has the story:

For some Americans, domestic and overseas terror attacks, plus a good dose of anti-Syrian political rhetoric, have made refugee resettlement something to be feared.

And a lot of the Americans who hold that view are churchgoers – including a lot of Baptists – LifeWay Research found in a new study…

“Pastors believe Scripture tells Christians to care for refugees and foreigners,” said Ed Stetzer, LifeWay’s executive director. “Yet many admit their church is not involved in such ministry”,,,

More than half of Baptist pastors surveyed said there is “a sense of fear” in their congregations about refugees resettling in the U.S., LifeWay found.

But the survey doesn’t square with the reality of some directly involved in refugee resettlement.

“My experience is completely the opposite,” said Ali Al Sudani, director of refugee services for Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston…

In fact, church support “increased significantly” after the Syrian refugee crisis began last fall and has stayed strong despite growing anti-Syrian rhetoric from American governors, presidential candidates and other politicians, he said… Read more here

Posted in Baptist, churches, faith-based, Houston, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, right-wing, security/terrorism, Syrian, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Kansas clergy rebuke governor’s decree on Syrian refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 5, 2015

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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

and

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 »

 
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