Scottish church leaders criticise Donald Trump’s immigration policies

Activists from Stand Up to Racism Scotland (SUTR) stage a protest at the Trump Turnberry resort in South Ayrshire, ahead of the US president's arrival in the UK. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire
Activists from Stand Up to Racism Scotland (SUTR) stage a protest at the Trump Turnberry resort in South Ayrshire, ahead of the US president's arrival in the UK. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire
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Five church leaders representing four denominations in Scotland have signed an open letter to Donald Trump asking him to revise his administration’s policies on migrants and asylum seekers.

The US President, who arrived in the UK today, has faced criticism at home and abroad for his Government’s policy of separating children from their parents if they are captured after illegally crossing the border from Mexico.

Footage of children held in cages and crying for their parents drew widespread condemnation after it surfaced last month.

The open letter, which is signed by members of both protestant and catholic churches, was shared today ahead of Mr Trump’s expected arrival in Scotland on Friday.

“It is with great sadness that we have followed reports of events in recent months which have seen families ripped apart and children placed in cages,” it reads.

“While all nations have the right to ensure their safety and control their borders this action has gone beyond what good conscience can accept.

“As a nation shaped by migration, Scotland’s people have known what it is to be welcomed as the stranger - and to welcome others.

“Most religions teach a form of the Golden Rule (treat others as you would wish to be treated) and the inherent value and dignity of every human being.”

Mr Trump claimed at a Nato summit in Brussels today that “most” people in the UK agreed with his immigration policies.

The text of the letter in full

Dear President Trump,

The iconic symbol of the United States of America, the Statue of Liberty proclaims “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.

She has been seen by generations of Scots, including your own ancestors, who went to make a new life and in turn contributed to the life of a nation unequalled in history for its diversity and opportunity.

It is with great sadness that we have followed reports of events in recent months which have seen families ripped apart and children placed in cages. While all nations have the right to ensure their safety and control their borders this action has gone beyond what good conscience can accept.

As a nation shaped by migration, Scotland’s people have known what it is to be welcomed as the stranger - and to welcome others.

Most religions teach a form of the Golden Rule (treat others as you would wish to be treated) and the inherent value and dignity of every human being.

People of faith are aware that our common humanity transcends national, racial, cultural or linguistic barriers. Offering hospitality to strangers is a common requirement of many different faith traditions.

In recent years in Scotland faith groups have lived and worked alongside refugees and asylum seekers, often in partnership with members of other faiths and with voluntary and statutory agencies. Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees is just one example of collaboration between people of multiple faith traditions.

While our history is marked with incidences of conflict, division and sectarianism, the Scotland you are visiting is multi-cultural, multi-faith, and enriched by the contribution of all Scots, native or new.

Across our nation, communities are opening their doors to those seeking safety, most recently leading the UK in welcoming Syrian refugees. In offering protection from persecution we, in return, receive creativity, hard-work, and friendship; we are made new.

We hope that your visit, continuing the long friendship between our countries, will give you the opportunity to see and hear that life in all its fullness does not come at the exclusion of others.

At the start of your Presidency, His Holiness Pope Francis prayed for wisdom and strength as you exercise your office.

We join our prayers with his, and pray that, as you look to the God who exults the poor and lifts up the lowly, you will remember the poorest and most recently arrived in your country, who, like many Scots before them, have so much to offer to your country and the world.

The Rev. Dr Richard Frazer, Convener Church and Society Council, Church of Scotland

John Collings, Church and Society Secretary, National Synod of Scotland, United Reformed Church

Grace Buckley, member of the National Justice and Peace Commission for Scotland, a commission of the Scottish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

The Rev. Joan Lyon, Priest-in-Charge at St Ninian’s, Aberdeen, and an NHS chaplain for the Scottish Episcopal Church

The Rev. Nicholas Bowry, Curate at St Clement’s Church, Aberdeen