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Florida Faith Leaders Speak Out Against Anti-Immigrant Proposals

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May 03, 2011

Unitarian Universalists and other faith communities in Florida are speaking out vocally against Arizona-style, anti-immigrant legislation that could pass the State Senate this week.

Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, drafted a statement of conscience regarding the bills. He and Kindra Muntz of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Florida urged interfaith colleagues to join them in signing on and delivering it to state legislators. More than 30 clergy statewide from diverse denominations have signed on. The text of the letter is below.

Today is a day of urgency for Floridians who are standing on the side of love with immigrant families. Said Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, ”These immoral and costly bills are being strengthened on the Senate floor today. Immigrant families have been holding constant presence, so much so that they are now being threatened by Tea Party activists who have called immigration not just on the families but on legislators who listen to them.”


Calls to Senators are needed ASAP, as are people in Tallahassee to stand with the immigrant families. Your presence would give them strength and courage, and you will find the experience educational and inspiring. Join them! Call Kathy Bird for help coordinating your trip at 786-210-9030.

Statement of Conscience on SB 2040 and HB 7089 by Florida Interfaith Religious Leaders

As religious leaders of diverse faith traditions across Florida, we unite our voices to call on our Legislature for a gracious and compassionate tone in our state’s immigration debate. We encourage lawmakers to focus on healing Florida communities and promoting the rights and inherent worth of every person.

Our diverse faith traditions challenge us to welcome the stranger among us with love and compassion and to practice hospitality towards all people, regardless of their place of birth. Since the enforcement of our laws impacts the human dignity and human rights of the person, it is incumbent upon faith communities to promote the humane treatment of newcomers and to call attention to practices and proposed laws which may lead to their abuse and suffering.

Because we value family unity, justice, equity, compassion, love, and the humane treatment of all persons, we dedicate ourselves, in our teaching and our witness, to calling for immigration reform. It is our collective prayer that Congress and our state legislature enact just immigration reform based on these tenets.

We understand that the people of Florida are frustrated. What we have is a flawed and broken system in need of some serious overhaul. Political leaders in Washington seem to lack the will or the vision to come up with a more just and humane immigration policy. But the solution to ineffective partisan posturing isn’t to pass bills like SB 2040 and HB 7089 that will merely create a host of serious problems that should concern us all.

We recognize and support the right of the United States to protect and secure our border and enforce our immigration laws. We support the work of lawmakers and law enforcement officials in protecting all people in Florida. However, when working to maintain and improve public safety, our Florida Legislators should be cautious when considering policies that could detract from safety and risk the inadvertent deprivation of the civil and constitutional rights of citizens and lawful permanent residents.

As policymakers and leaders, Florida legislators have the opportunity and responsibility to guide our whole community into a future of compassion, hope, and mutual respect. By affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every person, including those who migrate, lawmakers can help the people of Florida move from fear to respect.

We urge Florida legislators to reject policies that could encourage discrimination, compromise local law enforcement, or scapegoat immigrants.

Let’s work to fix our nation’s broken immigration system, respect the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and stand on the side of love with immigrant families in our communities.

Signed by:

Reverend Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, FL
The Reverend Kenneth Gordon Hurto, Unitarian Universalist Minister, Executive of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Florida District, Orlando, FL
The Reverend Russell L. Meyer, Executive Director, Florida Council of Churches, Tampa, FL
Rabbi David Weizman and Rabbi Danielle Upbin-Weizman, Congregation Beth Shalom, Clearwater, FL
Reverend Susan Sherwood, Pastor, Good Samaritan Church (Presbyterian/United Church of Christ), Pinellas Park, FL
Reverend Leddy Hammock, Senior Minister, Unity Church of Clearwater, FL
Reverend Dr. Robert Palin, Interim Minister, Faith United Church of Christ, Clearwater, FL
Reverend Gladys McCurtain, Minister, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Clearwater, FL
Reverend Renwick J. Bell, Pastor, Church of Our Savior, MCC, Boynton Beach, FL
Chaplain Wilfredo Amir Ruiz, Esq., Executive Director, American Muslims for Emergency and Relief
Jeannette Smith, Quaker Peace Center, Miami, FL
Reverend Meredith Garmon, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, FL
Reverend Gail Tapscott, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Secretary, South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice
Reverend Robin Gray, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahassee
Reverend Dr. Sara Zimmerman, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Tampa, FL
Reverend Scott W. Alexander, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Vero Beach, FL
Reverend Ronald A. Hersom, Settled Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville, FL
Reverend Dr. Marni Harmony, Consulting Minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Lakeland, FL
Reverend Allison W. Farnum, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Myers, FL
Rev. Jan E. Taddeo, Consulting Minister, UU Fellowship of Marion County, FL
Project Coordinator, Florida District Racial Justice Council
Shireen Chada, Administrator, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization, Tampa, FL
Jack Romberg, Rabbi, Temple Israel, Tallahassee, FL
Rev. Phyllis Hunt, Senior Minister, Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa, FL
Aziz Merchant, Islamic Community Center, Oldsmar, FL
Father Richard G. Mullen, O.S.A., The Little Flower Catholic Church, Hollywood, FL
Fr. John Cox, OMI Pastor, Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, Miami, FL
Frank J. Corbishley, Chaplain, Episcopal Church Center, Coral Gables, FL.
Rev. Doug McMahon, Director of Campus Ministries, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL
Rev. Lilly Shannon, Associate Chaplain, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL

6 Responses to “Florida Faith Leaders Speak Out Against Anti-Immigrant Proposals”

  1. Edward Barrier says:

    Every Political entity, state, county, city will have to take a stand for or against human decency, the letter of the law vs. compassion.

    Do you want your state to be thought of as backward, regressive, indifferent to human suffering? Maybe you would rather live up to the slogans of the chamber of commerce, the speeches your politicians deliver, full of promises.

    ARE you a promising entity or a backward relic of the old South?

  2. Jim Williams says:

    My Florida friends are quite rabid on this issue. I’m afraid that you would need to have some Baptists and Pentecostals on there before they would pay the slightest heed.

  3. Arlene Dean says:

    So that All, not only the legislators in Florida, but those across this Nation, will know that their tidal wave of fear and prejudice and hatred ends here, endsnow, ends with Love! Arlene Dean Guerneville ,CA.

  4. Rev. Dr. Bonnie Devlin says:

    Our legislators in Talahassee need to step back and think deeply before voting on any knee-jerk legislation regarding immigration issues in Florida. There are many positive ways to make immigration issues in Florida work to the advantage of all our citizens, rather than just the lazy legislative approach based out of fear and pressure. Other than Native Americans who were forced on to reservations, and African-Americans who were brought here against their will, ALL of us are immigrants of one ethnic group or another–we need to proceed with a sense of history and compassion as we work to integrate new immigrants into our “Immigrant Nation” of America. Sincerely, Rev. Dr. E. Bonnie Devlin, Bradenton, FL

  5. We at Woodlawn Church in St. Pete, FL also support this cause. We would love to give some effort to help out.

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