A Message From Donald C. Clark, Jr., Acting President & General Counsel
Posted: February 02nd, 2017
As a lawyer, and a lawyer for religious institutions at that, I can't help but offer the following for consideration as our country navigates this difficult time:
As stated by the Supreme Court, “the clearest command of the Establishment Clause is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.” Larson v. Valente, 456 US. 228, 244 (1982). The Executive Order issued by the President on January 27 imposing moratoriums of various lengths on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, and at the same time establishing preferential treatment for refugees seeking asylum who are identified with “minority religions” in their country of origin, tests this constitutional boundary.
The order on its face favors refugees from “minority religions” over those from “majority religions” in any given country. That distinction violates the principle of denominational neutrality. Christians suffering persecution deserve asylum, but so do Muslims suffering persecution, and Buddhists, and Jews, and Sikhs, and Yazidis, and Zoroastrians. There is no legitimate reason to favor Christians over others who are persecuted for their beliefs. Nor should the United States treat as presumptively suspect a religion practiced by more than 1.6 billion people worldwide, nearly a quarter of the globe’s population.
CTS has long stood for religious freedom and respect for people of all faiths. It is what we believe, what our country's constitution establishes as a fundamental right, and what we expect our government to adhere to in making its governing decisions. I can think of nothing more appropriate, passionate, or compelling, than to reaffirm our own CTS Statement of Commitments. These principles have more urgency today than ever before.
I have released this reaffirmation on our CTS website and social media spaces; I share it here with you.
In response to the division in our world and society, Chicago Theological Seminary reaffirms more than 160 years of standing on the side of justice and mercy.
As people of faith, we embrace love instead of hate, community instead of alienation, and respect instead of fear-mongering. We reject words and acts that demonize others.
At this moment in history, our CTS Statement of Commitments guides our work, leadership, and ministry to individuals, religious communities, and society. No matter the challenges brought by forces of division, fear, or hate, CTS will not waver from the commitments we hold dear. Stand with us.
Thank you for the role you play in bringing these principles to life in our work together.
Donald C. Clark, Jr.
Acting President and General Counsel
Chicago Theological Seminary