Reflecting on Japanese internment, Honolulu UCC pledges solidarity with Muslim, Hispanic communities
To lament the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 that interned people and families of Japanese ancestry, a Hawaii congregation of the United Church of Christ is speaking out against the ongoing rhetoric directed at Muslim and Hispanic immigrants.
“[W]e know what it’s like to be discriminated against based on race, hatred, fear-mongering and misinformation,” wrote the members of Nu’uanu Congregational Church in Honolulu in a statement. “The hysteria right now is troubling.”
After a special worship service in late February on the anniversary of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of the executive order, 91 members and friends of the historically Japanese-American church signed the statement, “Regarding Our Solidarity with Immigrants.”
“We are deeply concerned that President Trump’s executive order might well affect the way that citizens of our nation will view Muslims and the way in which Muslim nations view the United States,” the statement reads.
A revised executive order, which halts entry for refugees and persons from six Muslim majority nations, was signed on Monday, March 6. Hawaii state officials, including the attorney general, filed a complaint and temporary restraining order Wednesday, March 8. It’s is the first formal legal challenge to Trump’s latest attempt to implement a temporary travel ban. A federal judge in Seattle issued a nationwide hold on Trump’s first order after lawyers for travelers detained at U.S. airports filed lawsuits. His ruling was later upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month.
Nu’uanu Congregational was founded by Japanese immigrants in 1855. Past and present families of members of the church were impacted by Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942, which imprisoned people of Japanese ancestry in camps for four years in the midwestern, western and southern United States.
Recalling how the internment affected congregants’ lives 75 years ago, the church said it was “deeply concerned that our government might use Executive Order 9066 as a precedent to incarcerate members of the Muslim, Hispanic and other vulnerable communities.”
The Rev. Neal MacPherson, interim minister of Nu’uanu Congregational, said that the statement is also being shared with Hawaii’s elected officials, “urging them to do everything in their power to safeguard the wellbeing of all immigrants in the United States, especially those belonging to our Muslim and Hispanic communities, and also ensure that the United States will continue to welcome from all nations immigrants and refugees who wish to make their home among us.”
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