Local Clergy Repudiate Travel Ban

January 28, 2017

Newburgh – Clergy from the Greater Newburgh Interfaith Council gathered together with the local Muslim community at the Masjid Al-Ihklas Mosque, Newburgh, N.Y. Saturday, to publicly repudiate President Trump’s ban on refugees and stand in solidarity with “the poor, the needy, and the traumatized.”

“Yesterday President Trump took a wrecking ball to the Statue of Liberty and dashed the hopes of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free across the globe,” said the Rev. Chris J. Antal, Council President, of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Rock Tavern.

“As Jews we take this very personally,” said Rabbi Larry Freedman of the Temple Bethel Synagogue in Newburgh. “We know how this feels and we won’t stand by and watch it happen to someone else.”

Chaplain (COL.) Ken Sampson, US Army retired, a member of the council urged “unity over self” and celebrated the diverse gathering at the mosque as an example of the kind of unity necessary to resist injustice and discrimination.

The Rev. Mary Lou Baumgartner of King of Kings Lutheran Church in New Windsor and vice-president of the Council said “I have a granddaughter Iman and a grandson Youssef, and I want this country to be safe for them and for every child who lives here, including yours.”

Alisa Swire of Cornwall, the Refugee Welcome Team Coordinator for the Council, also attended. The announcement that the Refugee Welcome Team had recently received an anonymous donation from an Orange County resident for $10,000 was met with cheers and applause. “This county wants to welcome refugees, including refugees from Syria, and we have the evidence to prove it” Rev. Antal said. Many members of the mosque came forward to volunteer for the Welcome Team.

Antal then read a statement prepared by the council to the more than 60 Muslims who had gathered: “We stand in solidarity with our refugee and immigrant neighbors and our Muslim neighbors at this critical moment in history. We will actively resist these outrageous acts. As people of conscience we declare our commitment to translate our values into action as we stand with the most vulnerable among us.”