MFA Religious Leaders Speak Out for Refugees

December 8, 2015

As the U.S. Senate prepares to debate proposals to block resettlement of Syrian refugees, the Religious Leadership Circle of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees issued a statement in response to the continuing anti-refugee rhetoric being touted by many state and federal officials.

Statement on Dignity of Syrian Refugees

As the Religious Leadership Circle of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, which is a project of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, we reject proposed bans on resettling Syrian refugees in the United States, and express our deep concern that prejudice and fear-mongering are poisoning a legitimate debate over national security.

We are distressed to hear American politicians using terrorist attacks as a rationale for blocking Syrian refugees – even widows and orphans – from being rescued. We must ask: Why would we blame the victims of terror for the evil acts of the terrorists? This runs counter to who we are as a nation, abandoning the great historic principles of the United States of America, and our religious principles of helping the stranger, the needy and the less fortunate.

We support a careful review of our immigration and security procedures to safeguard our nation. But, we cannot let America’s ideals of welcoming victims of wars, oppression and natural disasters become undermined in the process. The problem is not Syrian refugees – among whom there is not a single one resettled in the U.S. who has been arrested in relation to any terrorist incident. On the contrary, Syrian refugees are themselves fleeing violence and terror from several sides in their own country. We cannot look the other way as they struggle to escape the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. As Pope Francis recently said, we must never forget that each refugee has “an inalienable dignity which is theirs as a child of God.”

We call on public officials and politicians to desist from inflammatory and bigoted legislative actions and pronouncements against Syrian refugees and Muslims especially at this highly emotional time.

On behalf of our member faith groups – including Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh – we call for helping the needy, oppressed and disadvantaged. As one of our holy books, the Bible, teaches:

“Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor.’’ Leviticus 19:16


The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones


Union Theological Seminary

Rev. Marcos A. Miranda


Christian Clergy International

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik

Executive Vice President

New York Board of Rabbis

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed

National Director

Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)

Very Rev. Nathanael Symeonides

Director Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Imam Shadi Zaza


Rahma Relief Foundation

Imam Franklin Center

The Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA), a project of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, is a coalition of more than 50 faith-based and secular organizations. Our mission is to mobilize global support to alleviate the Syrian humanitarian crisis, heighten awareness of its growing dangers, and advance future stability in the region. MFA conducts crisis-related briefings in the U.S. and abroad, facilitates relationships between complementary partner organizations working to help Syrian war victims, and nurtures transformative people-to-people diplomacy in the region.


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