Kansas clergy says refugee order violates religious liberty
Topeka A coalition of Kansas clergy has submitted a petition to Gov. Sam Brownback's administration asking the governor to rescind an executive order attempting to halt the relocation of Syrian refugees in the state.
The Wichita Eagle reports that the group, representing more than 50 Kansas churches, said the order impedes their religious liberty to help refugees.
Brownback issued the order on Nov. 16 directing that no state agency or organization receiving grant money through the state government to participate or assist "in any way in the relocation of Syrian refugees to Kansas" in the wake of the November attacks in Paris.
The attacks sparked concern that terrorists could enter the country under the guise of seeking refuge from Syria.
The Rev. David Livingston, of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Lenexa, said Brownback has spoken forcefully in the past about protecting religious freedom and wants him to maintain that stance.
"I want Governor Brownback to be true to his word that he will be a governor who allows Christians and others of faith to live out their faith fully," Livingston said. "We want to be able to fully practice our religious liberty, our freedom as Christians, to live out the Gospel message. And, that certainly includes refugees from a war-torn country."
The Rev. Kenny Clewett, pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, said "We are very concerned that our elected officials are proposing to limit our right and our ability to welcome refugees. We refuse to have that taken from us."
Eileen Hawley, a spokeswoman for Brownback, said the state has always welcomed refugees, but the federal government cannot guarantee security checks regarding the resettlement of refugees.
"While America will continue to be a country that defends the oppressed, our allies in the region also must step up to stem the tide of this humanitarian crisis," Hawley said.