Local faith leaders provide direction on executive order
Ministers at Pilgrim Congregational Church spoke against the controversial measure during an abbreviated Sunday service and then marched down Third Street in protest.
President Trump's first 100 days
- Congress OKs short-term spending bill, averting government shutdown over weekend
- Trump tells NRA: 'You have a true friend' in White House [video]
- Trump: National monuments a 'massive federal land grab'
- Local anti-Trump activists target state GOP elected officials
- Trump administration says Iran complying with nuclear deal
- Trump declares U.S.-Russia relations may be at 'all-time low'
- Gorsuch sworn into Supreme Court, restores conservative tilt
- U.S. strike on Syria is widely hailed, but angers Russia
- U.S. launches missile attack against Syria
- House intelligence committee chair steps aside
- White House says 'reality' changing with regard to Syria
- U.S. vows to uphold Russia sanctions until it respects pledges
- As GOP schism grows, Trump attacks fellow Republicans
- Trump revives threat to change libel laws
- Senate GOP needs Pence to break tie on family planning funds
- Trump administration seeks delay in ruling on climate plan
- Trump vows efforts to fight nation's opioid addiction crisis
- House sends bill to Trump blocking online privacy regulation
- House sends bill to Trump blocking online privacy regulation
- White House eyeing $18 billion list of social program cuts
- Watchdog to examine cost, security of Trump's Florida trips
- White House looks to bounce back after health care loss
- Trump signs legislation rolling back Obama-era regulations
- Trump's border wall with Mexico faces all kinds of obstacles
- Trump attacks conservative lawmakers over health bill
- Trump, GOP leaders pull troubled health care bill off House floor [video]
- Trump OKs Keystone pipeline, calling it 'great day' for jobs
- House GOP leaders delay vote on health care repeal bill
- Big GOP donors spending millions to stop Trump health care bill
- Trump feels 'somewhat' vindicated after Nunes intelligence briefing
- Comey: FBI probing Trump-Russia links, wiretap claims bogus
- GOP leaders propose health bill changes to help older people
- Trump to meet Iraqi premier as anti-IS policy takes shape
- Trump says Dems 'made up' allegations of Russia interference
- While Trump talks tough, U.S. quietly cutting nuclear force
- Trump says Germany owes 'vast sums' to NATO
- House panel gets Justice Department information about Trump's wiretap claim
- Trump would end subsidies for rural airline service
- Trump OKs changes in GOP health care bill, winning support
- President Trump, German Chancellor Merkel talk job training
- Trump's proposed budget features steep cuts to fund military, homeland security and aid veterans
- President Trump defends wiretapping claims at joint news conference with German Chancellor Merkel
- Trump budget cuts could cut $2 million of block grants for Chattanooga
- Trump pledges to fight 'terrible' court ruling blocking latest travel ban order [video]
- President Donald Trump speaks at rally in Nashville [video]
- Trump's first budget boosts military, cuts domestic programs
- Trump arrives at The Hermitage for historic visit to Andrew Jackson's home
- Trump announces challenge to Obama-era fuel standards
- White House meeting on Saudi underscores kingdom's influence
- President Trump to lay wreath at Andrew Jackson's 's tomb at Hermitage in Nashville
- Trump White House sees influence of shadowy 'deep state'
- Busload of local Trump supporters heading for president's Nashville rally
- Trump earned $153 million and paid $36.5 million in taxes in 2005
- 14 million would lose coverage under GOP plan, according to Congressional Budget Office
- Justice Department asks for more time on wiretapping evidence
- House committee wants evidence for Trump's wiretap claim
- Tax credits work differently in 'Obamacare' and GOP plan
- Trump administration dismissing congressional budget experts
- Trump on charm offensive with former rivals
- No more love for WikiLeaks from Trump after CIA hacked
- Trump's promises vs. the Republican plan on health care
- As president, Trump seeks answers on his own wiretap mystery
- New travel ban eases some legal questions but not all
- House GOP releases bill replacing Obama health care overhaul
- Trump tours private school in Florida, promoting choice
- Environmental programs face deep cuts under budget proposal
- Officials: New Trump order drops Iraq from travel ban list
- Trump looks to refocus his presidency in address to Congress
- Trump budget to increase defense spending by $54 billion
- Trump toasts nation's governors ahead of health care talks
- Trump condemns anonymous sources as staff demands anonymity
- White House bars major news outlets from gaggle
- A look at the legal path ahead for the Trump travel ban
- White House expects Justice crackdown on legalized marijuana
- Trump vows to fight 'epidemic' of human trafficking
- Conservatives learn dealing with Trump can be complicated
- Trump administration lifts transgender student bathroom guidance
- Millions targeted for possible deportation under Trump rules
- Trump Month Two: Talks on health care and on tax overhaul
- Trump praises new African American museum during first visit
- Trump denounces anti-Semitism in newly forceful condemnation
- Trump tries to move past controversies, toward legislating
- Revived by rally, Trump turns back to governing
- Outside of Washington, Trump slips back into campaign mode
- Trump gets out of Washington for campaign-style events
- Trump praises his 'fine-tuned machine,' says media dishonest
- Trump ushers in changes in Obamacare, could lead to higher annual deductibles
- A month into presidency, Trump prepares for a campaign rally
- Trump White House wrestles with a crush of crises
- Trump says U.S. will deal with North Korea 'very strongly'
- North Korean missile launch is Trump's latest test
- AP FACT CHECK: Are immigration raids result of Trump policy?
- Trump cites voter fraud in NH without providing evidence
- Trump says he might give travel ban a tweak or a makeover
- Trump responds to ruling on travel ban: 'SEE YOU IN COURT'
- U.S. appeals court refuses to reinstate Trump's ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations
- Trump says media 'doesn't want to report' extremist attacks
- White House expresses confidence travel ban will be restored
- U.S. judge temporarily blocks Trump's travel ban nationwide
- Trump moves to scale back financial regulations
- State Department says fewer than 60,000 visas canceled under Trump's order
- U.S. sanctions target two dozen people and companies in Iran following ballistic missile test
- Trump pledges to end political limits on churches
- Congress scraps Obama rules on coal mining, guns
- Trump tweets that Iran is 'on notice' for firing missiles
- Trump to Mexico: Take care of 'bad hombres' or U.S. might
- Trump praises Douglass, other famous African Americans
- Trump honors fallen Navy SEAL during unannounced trip
- Speaker defends Trump's order, warns of protests
- Local attorneys see widespread confusion over Trump's immigration order
- Trump supporters say they are happy with immigration order
- Veterans protest travel ban, saying it hurts interpreters
- Trump fires acting attorney general over executive order defiance
- White House: Immigration order 'small price' for safety
- Corker, Alexander call Trump's immigration ban 'poorly implemented' and 'confusing'
- Judge grants temporary stay after Trump immigration ban
- Trump's crackdown on refugees, citizens from 7 majority-Muslim countries takes effect
- Trump signs 'new vetting measures' to guard against terror
- Trump wants to slash EPA workforce and budget, official says
- Trump will pay for border wall with 20 percent tax on Mexican imports, spokesman says
- Trump poised to seek new military options for defeating IS
- Trump signals changes to U.S. interrogation, detention policy
- Trump calls for probe into unsubstantiated voter fraud claim
- Draft order would halt refugee processing for Syrians
- Trump intends to announce his Supreme Court pick on Feb. 2
- Trump warns he's ready to 'send in the Feds' to Chicago
- Trump moves to build border wall, cut sanctuary city funds
- EPA contract freeze, media blackout leave states confused
- Trump dogged by insecurity over popular vote, media coverage
- Trump moving forward with border wall, weighs refugee cuts
- Trump expands anti-abortion ban to all U.S. global health aid
- President Trump moves to advance Keystone XL, Dakota Access oil pipelines
- Trump administration places horse 'soring' ban on hold
- Trump tries to streamline manufacturing permits
- Trump moves to pull U.S. out of big Asia trade deal
- White House kicks off first full work day with daily briefing [video]
- Trump freezes new regulations until his administration can review them
- Trump signs first executive order
Leaders in the local Jewish and Islamic communities and some from Christian denominations also denounced the measure this week.
Other church leaders, however, appear to be taking a more reserved approach in addressing an issue that has prompted nuanced responses from national leaders of the area's largest denomination, Southern Baptists.
If local Southern Baptists are taking cues from the church's most visible figures, there may be some differing opinions on the matter in the pews this week.
Robert Jeffress, a member of Trump's faith advisory council and pastor of a large Southern Baptist church in Dallas, appeared on Fox News over the weekend to defend Trump's executive order.
But Russell Moore, another highly visible figure in the denomination, sent a letter to Trump and the legislative majority leaders on Monday articulating some concerns. Moore, who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, echoed issues that have been raised by Republican legislators about the order's rollout and confusion surrounding it.
"Achieving the right balance between compassion toward refugees - one of the most vulnerable groups of people among us - and protection of Americans is crucial if the United States is to remain a model for freedom around the world," Moore wrote in the letter, which was published by The Washington Post.
A regular Washington Post contributor and frequent Trump critic, Moore called on the administration to clarify the extent of the order and implement more screening measures so the refugee program may be resumed "as soon as possible."
At last count by the Association of Religion Data Archives, Southern Baptists comprised the Chattanooga area's largest faith body, with nearly four times the number of members as the next-closest denomination.
"The Bible instructs us to love our neighbor, and that applies across religious, political and geographic boundaries," Eddie Rasnake, Woodland Park Baptist Church senior associate pastor, wrote in an email. He also highlighted the classes and programs that Woodland Park offers to refugees and immigrants.
"As Chattanoogans, we certainly understand the dangers of terrorism, and support vetting refugees," he wrote. "But we are also very much in favor of immigration and helping political refugees."
Pastors from several other Southern Baptist churches in the area could not immediately be reached for comment.
The pastor of a church in the area's second-largest denomination, the Rev. Doug Fairbanks of First-Centenary United Methodist, clarified that his views do not represent every member of a "large and diverse congregation."
But Fairbanks said his personal feeling is that the present political leaders need to find better ways to find solutions.
"I'm concerned about the arrogance and insensitivity," Fairbanks said. "The way this has been done does not represent who the United States is, nor does it represent the finer points of the Christian faith. We live in a time when a lot of things masquerade as being Christian. But when you see things like this, you wonder what Bible some people are reading."
He added that he has little confidence in some of the people Trump has surrounded himself with.
"Politicians think America is respected because of its might, but nothing could be more false," Fairbanks said. "America is respected because of its heart and not its might. When we don't understand that, we lose the respect of the world and that makes things more dangerous."
Father David Carter of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church downtown said there are three principles that Catholics look to on immigration and refugee issues.
First, he said, people have the right to migrate and sustain their lives. Secondly, a country has the right to regulate its borders. Finally, Carter said, a country must regulate its borders with justice and mercy.
"I think this is something where level heads need to prevail if honest discourse is to be had," Carter said. "Right now, we have a culture of outrage and emotional reactions that doesn't bring good policy development."
Carter compared refugees to a stranger knocking at a family's door. If the visitor presents a need that those inside can fill, he said, there's a certain obligation to welcome them. But, he said, those inside the house also have the right to ask, "Who are you?"
"If it comes from a motivation of saying, 'I don't want you,' or 'we're never going to let anyone in,' we will raise the red flag then, because we are a nation of immigrants here by the grace of God," Carter said. "There's an opposite extreme that we should rightly be worried about. But the idea that people have unfettered access to our land is a bit naive."
To others like Michael Dzik, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, there is little room for debate on the executive order, which some have categorized as a Muslim ban.
"Is it a Muslim ban or not?" Dzik said. "Well, you can get involved in the semantics of it. But it doesn't feel right and doesn't smell right to me. We're a country of laws, and immigrants have to follow the laws. But this is not right, and the Jewish community is going to stand at their side."
Bassam Issa, Islamic Center of Greater Chattanooga president, said the executive order is "hurting the concept of America being a land of freedom."
He said the order bans travel from countries that have not attacked the United States and leaves out countries that fund ISIS. Second, Issa said, the order is "un-American."
"We are the country of immigrants," he said. "Trump's ancestors were one of those families. This goes against our values."
Finally, he said, the order could present more danger to the country by inciting non-Muslims to violence and possibly serving as propaganda for ISIS.
On a local level, Issa emphasized that Chattanoogans have offered an outpouring of support to the Islamic community.
"Chattanooga has been exemplary," he said. "People are wonderful and we would love to see other cities and people act like the people of Chattanooga. It's a city that understands how to be good to their neighbors."
Contact staff writer David Cobb at [email protected] or 423-757-6249.