‘People are being hurt right now across this country…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A guest speaker at Andrews University encouraged students to protect illegal immigrants by hiding them in “sanctuary” churches, claiming that “ICE will not raid a church.”
The event at the Seventh Day Adventist college was semi-mandatory, according to Campus Reform. The speaker, James Standish, encouraged students to allow their religious beliefs to inform their political opinions, especially on the topic of immigration.
“People are being hurt right now across this country,” Standish said. “Many of them are our brothers and they’re our sisters. And we stand by with our churches empty when they could be sanctuary sanctuaries.”
Standish then compared harboring illegal immigrants to the Underground Railroad and to German families that hid Jews from the Nazis during World War 2.
“This is my challenge to you: Why not open up your church as a sanctuary?” Standish asked.
Churches are their own kinds of sanctuaries because “except in unusual circumstances, ICE will not raid a church,” Standish claimed.
There is no policy preventing ICE from arresting illegal aliens who hide in churches, but there is a 2011 policy, created under the Obama administration, that classifies certain areas, including schools and churches, as “sensitive locations.” These locations prevent ICE from conducting “arrests, interviews, searches, or surveillance,” unless there is an urgent need.
“And it’s actually a policy drawn from the Bible, believe it or not!” Standish said of the 2011 policy. “You see, in the Bible there was something called sanctuary cities.”
After facing backlash from some students and parents, Andrews University clarified that the purpose of Standish’s lecture was to present and address “issues on which the University may not have taken an official position,” the school said in a statement.
“As a Christian institution of higher learning, the University uses its Forum series as an opportunity to encourage students to develop their critical thinking skills and to hone their perspectives on contemporary issues in light of their personal faith and/or values,” it said.
“Within the University’s co-curricular requirement, there is room for students to select from a variety of programs,” it continued. “However, our hope is that students will choose to engage even those speakers with whom they may disagree, as a way of learning to negotiate and learn from ideological difference.”