Louisville-based Presbyterian headquarters addresses calls to revoke Trump's membership
Presbyterian officials want Donald Trump kicked out of the church following his remarks on banning all Muslims from entering the United States -- but church leaders at the denomination's headquarters here in Louisville say that won't happen.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Some Presbyterian officials want Donald Trump kicked out of the church following his remarks on banning all Muslims from entering the United States -- but church leaders at the denomination's headquarters here in Louisville say that won't happen.
Leaders got a letter from a church in New York, asking them to review Trump's membership for remarks in which he called for Muslim immigration to the U.S. to be halted.
"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on," Trump said.
It was the all-out ban he proposed which led members of the Rutgers Presbyterian Church to adopt the resolution asking for a review of his standing in the denomination.
Rutgers is part of the same regional cluster, or "presbytery," as Trump's original home church in Queens.
The letter says, in part, "as a church, we remain neutral in terms of political candidates and campaigns, but we cannot be neutral with the respect to fundamental human rights."
Leaders at the Presbyterian headquarters in Louisville say they agree, but they can't act because Trump is not really a member of a Presbyterian church.
"Every year when the U.S. Census is taken, there's twice as many people who claim to be Presbyterians that are actually on anybody's roles," said Gradye Parsons, of the Office of the Presbyterian General Assembly. "So Mr. Trump may fall into that category. He was baptized in Queens, but he doesn't hold membership in any Presbyterian church."
"According to our Book of Order and our discipline, there's no steps to be taken," he added.
The headquarters says you can’t revoke what doesn’t exist. In recent weeks, the Republican Presidential front runner has called for surveillance on mosques, a national database and profiling of Muslims. His public comments following the France terrorist attack about Syrian Refugees led Parsons to write to his Presidential Campaign. The text of that letter is reproduced below.
Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
725 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10022
I am the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the denomination of the congregation in Queens, New York, where you were baptized. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) develops its policies through councils of teaching elders and ruling elders. At the national level it does that through the General Assembly. I would like to share with you the Presbyterian policies on refugees and immigrants.
Presbyterians profess a faith in Christ, whose parents were forced to flee with him to Egypt when he was an infant to save him from King Herod. Knowing our Lord was once a refugee, faithful Presbyterians have been writing church policy urging the welcome of refugees and demanding higher annual admissions into the United States since the refugee crisis of World War II. Presbyterians have a mission presence in many refugee-sending countries, including Syria and Lebanon, where we have been present since 1823. Our relationship with people of faith and communities in these countries gives us knowledge of the root causes of the flight of refugees and further cements a commitment to welcome.
Presbyterians through decades of policy have demanded humane treatment of people of all nationalities and faiths who find themselves within our borders. We have challenged our government when it neglects to acknowledge the refugee status of those fleeing persecution. We have pushed for due process at the border and we continue to petition for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented persons.
As a Presbyterian I acknowledge my immigrant ancestors and my new immigrant sisters and brothers. I also respect that we came uninvited to a land already occupied by people. This creates a sense of humility about my citizenship that shapes my views on those who seek a place here. I hope you will find this helpful. I especially hope it will inform you on your policies going forward.
The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
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