Public Radio International

Offering sanctuary: The church/immigration story that’s not going away

Offering sanctuary: The church/immigration story that’s not going away

Back in 2007, the Bush administration wasn’t budging on immigration, so a number of churches began offering “sanctuary” to illegal immigrants whereby the immigrant’s family literally lives on church property where the police won’t touch them. It was similar to a much larger sanctuary movement in the early 1980s when Central American refugees camped out in churches across the country.

I was convinced this new sanctuary movement was going places, so talked the Washington Times (my employer at the time) into sending me and a photographer to interview immigration officials, pastors, activists and the illegal immigrants camped out in church basements in Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles and the Seattle area. The result was a four-part series that you can read about here, here, here and here. (It was quite a switch from the kind of coveragethe Times usually runs on immigration). One of my photos from a pro-sanctuary demonstration in Kansas City runs atop this story.

 So when I saw a recent story in Religion News Service about a press conference about the incoming Trump administration creating the need for sanctuary churches, I took notice.

Sanctuary is a complex topic and the villains aren’t always who you think they are. The story began:

PHILADELPHIA (RNS) -- First came the mayors of New York, Chicago and Seattle declaring their cities “sanctuaries” and saying they will protect undocumented immigrants from President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deport them.
Then thousands of students, professors, alumni and others at elite universities including Harvard, Yale and Brown signed petitions asking their schools to protect undocumented students from any executive order.
Now, religious congregations, including churches and synagogues, are declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for immigrants fleeing deportation.

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Climate change will heat up West Africa's religious conflicts -- and a whole lot more

Climate change will heat up West Africa's religious conflicts -- and a whole lot more

Africa presents a host of formidable problems that limit quality coverage by Western -- and in particular, American -- news outlets. That means there's a gaping hole in the information needed to understand in significant depth Africa's huge role in global social changes and conflicts.

Some of the problems are physical; the continent's colossal size and relatively poor transportation and communications infrastructures, for example.

But some are attitudinal. Press freedoms overall are more limited in Africa in line with the continent's generally less than stellar political profile

Close to home, Americans also have been shown, repeatedly, to favor domestic over international news. And those of us who do pay closer attention to foreign stories tend to prefer those originating in nations with which we have greater historic, geographic and cultural affinity, or substantial national involvement -- which is to say, Europe, the Middle East and, increasingly, Latin America.

What coverage there is of Africa tends to concentrate on the catastrophic -- civil war, terrorism, Christian-Muslim religious conflict, poverty, disease, government corruption and African migrants desperately trying to flee their homelands for Europe.

Here's a sampling of journalistic, think tank and academic pieces that address why Africa coverage is below par. There's a lot here, so read them at your leisure. Click here, and here. And here or, finally, here.

Now, let's narrow our scope to just one region, Africa's sub-Saharan west.

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