To our North Carolina legislators and Governor Roy Cooper,
From June 12-15 we in the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church had our annual business meeting in Greenville, and among other things we voted on resolutions: sharing the current climate, heartbeat, and opinion of our Annual Conference. Some things we disagreed on and openly debated, but on a resolution to “see our immigrant neighbors and the forces affecting them,” we were nearly unanimous.
We shared openly about the pending House Bill 370, about its potentially disastrous effects on the general immigrant community and their relationship to the sheriffs departments of our Great State. We were resolved to know, love, and support these communities, because no matter how many political and racial divisions we draw, what happens to and affects one of us affects all of us.
Being a majority white Church, we realize that any legislation which directly and negatively affects people of color can stymie our relationship with them. For years we, and other faith-based and civic organizations, have been pouring resources of every kind into building bridges with our immigrant neighbors. HB 370 threatens to destroy and not strengthen communal bridges.
One of the lawmakers responsible for HB 370 said it is, “Common sense legislation.” This sentiment does not reflect an attitude within the United Methodist Church that could be construed as either “common” or “sensical.”
In this crucial moment of history we draw a line between ourselves and our future. We may look back on what came before this line and either be grateful that we struggled to remain inviting and grateful for each other in Southern Hospitality…or we may look back with regret. We pray that the shared legacy you all leave will be one that seeks to communicate with and not criminalize vast members of the immigrant communities of North Carolina. If not for the sake of future voting citizens, and if not for your legacy, do it because the soul of us as a people is at stake. We regret that the possibility and ease of relationship-building is so integrally tied to who is embraced and who is cast aside by the government. And so, for the sake of our immigrant neighbors’ lives, our relationships with each other, and our future together, please do not support any implementation of HB 370.
The prophet Isaiah writes, “Woe unto those that establish unrighteous laws and that wilfully prescribe tyranny.” (10:1) Already across the Old North State we have heard the cry of the widowed immigrant as she’s been made to feel isolated and “othered.” We’ve heard the cry of the lonely child at the bus stop, waiting to be picked up, unaware that her father was corralled and carried off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Many young ones grow up like orphans, in toxic stress, because of the embarrassing operations of ICE. Please do not force the community servants of our sheriffs departments to be complicit in this.
To think that this is the best or only option to make is to suffer from a lack of creativity. The God we pray to is infinitely creative and capable of providing us with more healthy ways to tempt the future, ways which can bring us together and not apart.
We pray for you all in the difficult decisions you make, that you will find unity and kinship, even amidst difference, as you seek to lead us. We pray that you will decide not to support any version of HB 370.
We also pray, with hearts full of faith, that if HB 370 reaches your desk dear Governor Roy Cooper, you will decide to veto it in support of the immigrant communities that enrich and strengthen our Great State of North Carolina on a daily basis.
With loving and peaceful regards,
The Immigration Ministry Task Force of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church