VIDEO: Speaker at Christian university tells students to use their churches to hide illegal immigrants
- A speaker for a semi-required event at Andrews University urged students to use their home churches to shield illegal aliens from deportation, stating that, “except in unusual circumstances, ICE will not raid a church.”
- A student who attended the event said, “Plain and simple, if you voted for Trump, if you stand with Trump, you’re not a Christian.”
A speaker invited to speak about religious matters at a Michigan Christian university encouraged students to make their home churches “sanctuary sanctuaries” to aid illegal immigrants in evading law enforcement, citing his discovery that ICE typically will not raid a church.
James Standish, a speaker for the Oct. 17 semi-required religious event at Andrews University, a Seventh Day Adventist college, used his speaking opportunity to promote his political views from a religious perspective. Among other issues, Standish urged for the use of churches as “sanctuary sanctuaries” to shelter illegal aliens from deportation.
The “University Forum” event fulfilled a co-curricular requirement placed on students at Andrews. While the particular event was not mandatory, students are required to attend a certain number of such events each term. Standish drew moral parallels between those currently harboring illegal aliens, the Underground Railroad, and those who hid Jews during the Nazi era.
“A church entity asked me to look into this [immigration policy] because of our members being deported,” Standish explained, adding his discovery that “today, except in unusual circumstances, ICE will not raid a church.”
Citing the cities of refuge in the Old Testament as examples, he claimed that Christians are obligated to aid in preventing the deportation of those without legal status, especially since some of them are members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
“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 continued by appealing to the audience of Andrews University students—who are predominantly Second Day Adventist Christians—to make their local churches havens for illegal aliens. “This is my challenge to you: why not open up your church as a sanctuary?”
He finished the speech by drawing ethical parallels between the current immigration situation and conditions under oppressive government policies in history, concluding, “many of us look back on history and we say that if we were alive during the time of the slaves that we would be part of the Underground Railroad. Really? Would you? I mean you could lose your house. You could go to jail. Are you serious? Would you do that? John Byington, the first [SDA] General Conference president did it. But would you?”
“People say ‘Hey, but during the Nazis, I would have been rescuing Jews.’ Would you?” Standish asked the students. “Would you really? And risk getting pulled out by the gestapo, sent to a concentration camp yourself? Would you do it?”
Jameeka Williams, an Andrews student who attended Standish’s speech, shared her thoughts with Campus Reform.
“I do think that [having sanctuary churches] would be very important,” Andrews student and event attendee Jameeka Williams told Campus Reform. “That’s something that Jesus would want us to do.”
“We should definitely look into it. I love the idea. I want to learn more about it,” Williams added.
When asked whether it is possible to be both a Christian and a Trump supporter, Williams wholeheartedly said “No,” elaborating that “the ideals that Trump stands for are blatantly racist.”
“Plain and simple, if you voted for Trump, if you stand with Trump, you’re not a Christian. And you’re also racist and sexist,” Williams said.
Andrews student Yulian Tinoco told Campus Reform he thinks Standish’s concept of “sanctuary churches" is a positive one.
“It’s a good thing. I think churches should be more open to that,” Tino said.
In a statement to Campus Reform, Andrews University clarified its policy regarding University Forums, noting that it “invites guests from a variety of viewpoints to present to its student body, at times addressing issues on which the University may not have taken an official position.”
“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,” the University stated. “Within the University’s co-curricular requirement, there is room for students to select from a variety of programs. 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.”
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