Stated Clerk issues letter to Trump on refugees, immigrants

October 2, 2015


Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
. 725 Fifth Avenue
. New York, New York 10022

Mr. Trump,

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.

In Christ, 

The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

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  1. It is amazing to me that so many people cannot comprehend the fact that Mr. Trump is not against immigration. He is against illegal immigration and immigrants who are known terrorists. Presbyterian Churches are shutting down in mass. One of the main reason for that is the fact that PCUSA has gotten so liberal that it is sickening.

    by Terry Tyson

    February 5, 2017

  2. Dear Mr Parsons, I am a new Presbyterian; who joined my church, transferring my Methodist membership to a denomination I had previously known very little about. I had grown somewhat frustrated by the silence of the church on topics I believed that Christ would not remain silent if He were to walk amongst us today. Jesus was one who taught us to love one another, dining with outcasts, and healing the untouchables. I have waited through several Methodist conferences for them to welcome our LGBT persons into their fold, and it has yet to happen. The church I joined is a diverse community, or family, who are multi racial and where the outcasts from other Christian churches are made to feel comfortable. It is a church which played an instrumental role in the smooth desegregation of our local schools, and is the founding church of the Opening Doors program, serving immigrants in our community who need assistance in getting help adjusting to their new country. Trinity is also a church which has a community garden and feeds the needy from it, as well as collecting monthly donations from our congregation to assist in this ministry. I have not yet mentioned the focus on maintaining a conversation with the Muslim community with members from our congregation. All of these ways of outreaching the olive branch to others are the evidence I needed to know I had finally found a congregation where my values were reflected. My husband and I have placed our loyalty and a modest financial support with Trinity Presbyterian Church of Denton, Texas. Your inspirational letter to our now, Presidential - Elect confirms that we are in the best place to live our faith. Thank you for helping us feel proud to state "We are Presbyterians, who will be happy to tell you why." Thank you, Phoebe J. Collins, Presbyterian (USA)

    by Phoebe Collins

    January 1, 2017

  3. In the 1980s I remember when fundamentalist groups of the Christian Church began to speak loudly about their authoritarian view of their sects as THE protestant representatives. I waited for the more moderate Protestant denominations to respond with their principals. NOT A PEEP. Just like the Republican Party as Trump began to userp his way to be the spokesperson for the Republicans. Perhaps that is when I, as a progressive with a protestant Christian upbringing, stopped framing my beliefs as related to the christian church. What do they matter, they are only quiet private little sects doing their private little things.

    by Caroline Robnson

    October 17, 2016

  4. An encouraging message. Some have listened to the message of Christ, and haven't bought into trumpery or the fulminations of the religious right, actually neither.

    by Charles Laster

    March 26, 2016

  5. Thank you, Gradye, for making us so proud to be Presbyterians. I thought it very odd when speaking to a right wing evangelical group Mr. Trump said , "I'm a Presbyterian, I'm a Presbyterian but I don't know about this Seventh Day Adventist group (referring to Dr, Carson's religion). If Mr. Trump knew that we (us since he claims membership) have accepted ordination of homosexuals and have agreed to allow same sex marriages to be performed by our ministers ... I don't think he would have been so quick to claim us. Surely not if he wanted to get the right-wing vote. Come on Donald you are smarter than that. After all you say you are the WINNER and all those other people are LOSERS!!! And I am a REPUBLICAN!!!! Moderate, of course!!


    January 21, 2016

  6. This is a great statement. Well written and foundational sound. However, I would have also appreciated a statement that is found in our confessions that supports Black Lives Matter and the national hatred and unjust treatment of people of cor in this country. Supporting Black Lives as something of value is also in accordance with whom we are as Presbyterians. #SandraBland #TamirRice #MikeBrown #EricGardner #TreyvonMartin #somanymore.....

    by Shanea Leonard

    December 31, 2015

  7. "Romans 13:1–7 makes it abundantly clear that God expects us to obey the laws of the government. The only exception to this is when a law of the government forces us to disobey a command of God (Acts 5:29). Illegal immigration is the breaking of a government’s law. There is nothing in Scripture that contradicts the idea of a sovereign nation having immigration laws. Therefore, it is rebellion against God to unlawfully enter another country. Illegal immigration is a sin , Romans 13:1–7 does not give any permission to violate a law just because it is perceived as unjust. Again, the issue is not the fairness of a law. The only biblical reason to violate a government’s law is if that law violates God's Word. When Paul wrote the book of Romans, he was under the authority of the Roman Empire, led by Emperor Nero. Under that reign, there were many laws that were unfair, unjust, and/or blatantly evil. Still, Paul instructed Christians to submit to the government." Christ did not evade the judgement handed down nor did His disciples seek to give Him refuge to escape the cross. He rebuked Peter in Mark 8:33.

    by Guest

    December 28, 2015

  8. When I was a child my parents sponsored the immigration of a Ukranian family that had been displaced by communists. My parents agreed to provide a job and housing; and this family planned, saved and went on to be great independent U.S. citizens, never "on the dole". Check out the cost of illegal immigration in your state for education, food, housing and incarceration. Check out the very high percentage who are illiterate in their own language. How about sponsoring a family yourself? Go online and read "A Biblical Perspective on Immigration Policy" by James R. Edwards. I love the idea of immigration, decently and in good order. It is unimaginable that those who profess to be Christians would encourage such massive breaking of the law. Political candidates aside, GET A GRIP!

    by Karen Snowden

    December 13, 2015

  9. I have just read this statement and it is of great encouragement. There are so many that look to the legalities of where people stand, not understanding the impetus that urges people North of their borders. No one really wants to leave their country of origin, however, it is survival that demands for people to uproot and leave. We of great resources are called to share them as it has been seen time and time again with the people of God. Had not Elimelech left in search of food, we would not have the book of Ruth or King David's great grandmother. I am greatly humbled that I live in a country where my will is not taken from me and that I am free to speak and act according to my own desires (barring criminality). I am thankful and will welcome the destitute, the hungry, the poor, displaced, and long suffered to my home as I live out the gospel message. This coming from someone who was diligent with immigration regulations and spent more than I had to adhere to laws made for the rich.

    by Elder Lissette Sosa

    November 17, 2015

  10. You make no distinction between immigrants who arrive in the USA having completed all lengthy, legal requirements for entry, as did my great grandparents, and those who arrive in our country through means the immigrants know are illegal. I would think PC(USA) would stand for what the Constitution and laws of the USA determine are legal.

    by Ronald Stenzel

    November 8, 2015

  11. Indeed, Presbyterians operate decently and in order. Well stated. We are proud of the openness and polity under which our denomination operates.

    by Rev. & Mrs. John D. Griffith

    October 26, 2015

  12. Thank you for not speaking politically, but reminding everyone of the accepting nature and orderly process in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Well done.

    by Rev. & Mrs. John D. Griffith

    October 26, 2015

  13. Come on Gradye... Why not go back to "I'm aboard, pull up the gangplank!"

    by Richard B. "RB" Smith

    October 26, 2015

  14. Thoughtful letter! Hope it evokes an equally thoughtful response from Donald Trump!

    by Art Jensen

    October 12, 2015

  15. I am also a student at UPSem (CLT) and appreciate that this letter is factual and articulate. The one point I would like to make to those who commented about the issues of politics and tax laws, etc... "Immigrants" are not issues - they are human beings, children of God, lest we forget.

    by Sally Herlong

    October 9, 2015

  16. Gradye, If this was truly a letter to Donald Trump, it should have been written to him. This is another political statement on your part using the title of stated clerk of the denomination. I am not commenting on agreeing or disagreeing with the denominational stand, nor Trump's. Your open letter to Trump is meeting your political agenda and does not further the peace, unity or purity of the church. You are putting the PCUSA in a political position--and I as a pastor will have to answer that to my congregation. When will you stop?

    by Bruce Sexton

    October 8, 2015

  17. Thanks Gradye!

    by Harriet Sandmeier

    October 8, 2015

  18. Very well done, Rev. Parsons, Thank you for your good work, John White

    by John White

    October 8, 2015

  19. Thank you Grady!

    by David Muffett

    October 8, 2015

  20. Thank you for writing this and putting your neck out there!

    by Mieke Vandersall

    October 6, 2015

  21. As our Stated Clerk, you represent us well!! Many thanks for sending this letter to Mr Trump. When he states that he's a Presbyterian, it's important that he understands our history and policies. You're letter served to inform him and not to support any particular candidate or party. Thank You!!

    by Jean Hehn

    October 6, 2015

  22. I have to respectfully disagree with some of the comments that have been made with regard to your letter. I do not think you were partisan at all. You did not lift one candidate over another. You did not even tell anyone not to vote for Mr. Trump. You notified Mr. Trump of the long time stance of the denomination of which he claims to be his own. If someone stands on a national stage, claims to be of our tribe and says something against our historical stance, a public response is warranted. I believe your letter was in a respectful tone, even in its disagreement. I am wary of those who say that the church has no place in politics at all, because politics- is at its heart- is the study and debate as to how the people of the "Polis" (city-state) should be governed and treated. I believe we were charged with a great deal of responsibility when it comes to treating the people of the polis well, whether friend or enemy- we are told, no commanded, to love one another. As we exist within the Polis, and we advocate for those who would be "the least of these" we are by definition political. But, there is a distinction between being political and being partisan. Partisanship schemes to control the powers and principalities for its own benefit. Partisanship has no higher calling. Thank you for not being partisan, but seeking to be guided by scripture and polity to demonstrate your and our love for neighbor, especially those with the least amount of power.

    by Rob Jackson

    October 6, 2015

  23. Thank for this thoughtful letter.

    by Sara Dein

    October 6, 2015

  24. Brad P. you asked for a specific policy. The Office of Immigration Issues was created upon a resolution passed at the 216th General Assembly (2004) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Gradye is referring to this and is completely correct that he speaks for the denomination through the councils of the church.

    by Rich Blinne

    October 6, 2015

  25. Thanks, Brady, for speaking for all of us who shudder when we hear this politician speak so of immigrants.

    by Mae Hicks

    October 6, 2015

  26. Well said, and thank you. And for those who lament "declining numbers," I refer to John 6.66 (let's face it; lots of people use the church to avoid the truth, and when truth is spoken, they can't handle it; the Prophets knew all about this as well) ... and the simple realities of cultural change: the post-war years (i.e. 50s) were a cultural aberration and it does no good to keep benchmarking the church by it. And while evangelicals often talk about being spiritual, I find it curious that many of them attach so much importance to nickels and noses. Perhaps a reference to Judges 7 might help.

    by Tom Eggebeen

    October 6, 2015

  27. Does Gradye even mention a policy here? What official policy is he referring to?

    by Brad P.

    October 6, 2015

  28. Mr Henry is correct here. I understand the truth is a tough pill to swallow. Membership is declining at an alarming rate and we need only look to instances like this.

    by Kyle

    October 6, 2015

  29. We should remember the many teaching of The Bible that suggest we are to welcome the stranger, and the teaching of Jesus that there is room at the table for the outcast. I am saddened by the legalistic who thinks the tax code , which he misinterprets, is more important than these basic sacred imperatives

    by Stephen kliewer

    October 5, 2015

  30. Thank you, Mr. Parsons! Glad to hear our vision of immigration so well put.

    by Barb McRae

    October 5, 2015

  31. Well said! Thanks!

    by Alice McConnel

    October 5, 2015

  32. Thanks for your thoughtful words!

    by Mark Baridon

    October 5, 2015

  33. Mr. Parsons I would suggest that you read the tax code before continuing to speak against a political candidate. The PCUSA has a long history of seeking to politicize its mission and you do nothing to further the cause of Christ by alienating a large portion of your membership; as the General Assembly did by backing a resolution to denounce Israel in 2014. From the IRS 501(c)(3) Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations: Political Campaign Activity Under the Internal Revenue Code, all IRC Section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of the organization in favor of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of excise tax.

    by Zach Henry

    October 5, 2015

  34. Dear Gradye, Many thanks for sending this strong letter and sharing it with all of us as a reminder of our Biblical and theological roots. I hope you have also shared the letter with the media. Martin

    by Martin Lehfeldt

    October 5, 2015

  35. Thank you so very much. I believe we should tell the world and especially US Citizens what Presbyterian (USA) means. Tthank you!

    by John A. Hubbard

    October 4, 2015

  36. thank you for this

    by aleida jernigan

    October 4, 2015

  37. Based upon his political and economic ethics he could only be a member of an independent church where he owns the church and is the Bishop who writes and reads his own bible!

    by Roderick Hewitt

    October 4, 2015

  38. Amen y gracias

    by Josey Saez Acevefi

    October 4, 2015

  39. Once again proud to be a Presbyterian. I encourage Mr. Ludenklass to consider that the majority of immigrants, documented and undocumented, are not criminals. As a teacher of 35 years I have taught thousands in my classrooms; most are hardworking and sincere. More worrisome to me are the white, male, disengaged citizens who idolize violence.

    by Susan E. M. Tanabe

    October 3, 2015

  40. My word! (No, I can only wish it was, except that I don't have the pulpit from which to proclaim it.) You make me so proud to share your tent.

    by Barbara Kellam-Scott

    October 3, 2015

  41. What is your church's admonition to "refugees" and "undocumented immigrants" who perpetrate criminal acts in the lands they visit ? Where is that policy specifically stated ? Why has the wider Church surrendered its ministerial opportunities to win people to Christ by dumping the care of such people on the US taxpayers ?

    by Joe Ludenklass

    October 3, 2015

  42. Mr. Trump proclaims he is a Presbyterian but I live in the town where he attended New York Military Academy. In all his years at NYMA he did NOT attend our Presbyterian church. Plus he despised the scoool with the sole exception of the athletic couch.

    by Harriet Sandmeier

    October 3, 2015

  43. ¡Muchas gracias!

    by Magdalena Garcia

    October 3, 2015

  44. Very well said.

    by Barbara Smith

    October 3, 2015

  45. Let u s count the number of biblical heroes who once were or were offspring of refugees. As soon as I think my list is complete...I think of another. It is our collective Judeo-Christian culture that has taught us what now seems to be a long-forgotten commandment to love "A stranger in a strange land" & to "love one another as we would wish to be loved." Mr. Donald...would you dare declare yourself a Pagan? I am sure voters would respond unfavorably - yet your own doctrine speaks thusly. Shame on you for declaring yourself the answer to the American Dream. Lynne Garvey-Hodge, Elder & Deacon, PCUSA & Wesley Theological Seminary MTS Graduate, 2003

    by Lynne Garvey-Hodge

    October 3, 2015

  46. As a final level M.Div student at UPSem and the wife of a Mexican-American who was, until last year, undocumented, I want to thank you with all of my heart for responding to D.T.'s hateful rhetoric and reminding us all of the Presbyterian position on immigrants and refugees. I appreciate your witness to Jesus's own experience as an undocumented immigrant in a foreign land. It is an inconvenient truth for many, but should serve to remind us time and again that even those we seek to strip of all humanity and legitimacy are still infinitely valuable and matter to God and to the world. Thank you.

    by Lana Heath de Martinez

    October 3, 2015

  47. Thanks, Gradye. Important message.

    by Ron Hayes

    October 3, 2015

  48. Well said by our Stated Clerk. And it needed to be said by our denominational voice. If not, then it could be implied that silence (of Mr. Trump's vitriol) is consent. Thank you, Gradye Parsons.

    by Rick Johnson

    October 3, 2015

  49. Thank you Grady.

    by Sally Zimmerman

    October 3, 2015

  50. when was the last time our SC wrote to a Democrat about transparency, integrity, honesty, truth, probity, their party's decades-long failures in leadership of our major cities?

    by Louis S. Lunardini

    October 3, 2015

  51. Note to Chris Callaway (above) -- Fine idea, except Vicente Fox is no longer President of Mexico. Enrique Pena Nieto is.

    by Bob Battenfield

    October 3, 2015

  52. Thank you!

    by Melossa

    October 3, 2015

  53. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once addressed a conference of the Daughters of the American Revolution, "My fellow Immigrants." I pray that that Mr. Trump is not so deafened by his bombast that he can hear your words. Very well stated.

    by Gordon Braudaway

    October 2, 2015

  54. It would be splendid if The Reverend Gradye Parsons wrote a similar letter to Mexico's president Vincente Fox. Rafael Fernandez de Castro, editor of the Spanish-language version of Foreign Affairs, has charged Mexico with a policy toward illegal immigrants from Central America that is "more racist and discriminatory than that of the United States on [Mexico's] northern border."

    by Chris Callaway

    October 2, 2015

  55. Thank you.

    by Kathy Schoeffmann

    October 2, 2015

  56. Thank you for this wonderful letter! I hope and pray that he will read and understand!


    October 2, 2015

  57. Thank you, Gradye for this letter. I only hope and pray that he hears God's message through your words.

    by Carolyn Stephens

    October 2, 2015

  58. Thank you for this.

    by Lucy Harris

    October 2, 2015

  59. Well said, thanks Gradye

    by Kathy Terpstra

    October 2, 2015

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