A Joint Letter from Religious and Spiritual Life

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Administrators:

We write to you in a time of public divisiveness and fear. The recent Executive Order on Immigration has been confusing at best, and in many cases, painful. We are troubled by the recent discriminatory action directed at immigrants and refugees into this country from seven predominately Muslim nations and alarmed that communities seeking to shelter individuals fleeing harm could be penalized. This policy is antithetical to Amherst College’s profound values of compassion, justice and dignity for all individuals, the principles of our country and the understanding of human dignity embodied in our spiritual traditions. In the wake of recent vandalism and violence, we lift up these values in support of all people regardless of the factors that some exploit as basis for discrimination or hate.

The honored writings of our respective traditions are clear: we humans are called to welcome strangers and care for the oppressed.

From Judaism: Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. (Exodus 22:21-22)

From Christianity: I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. (Matthew 25:36-36)

From Islam: Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good — to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess: For Allah loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious. (Qu’ran 4.036)

From Hinduism: When a person responds to the joys and sorrows of others as if they were his own, he has attained the highest state of spiritual union. (Bhagavad Gita 6:32)

From Buddhism: Hurt not others with that which pains yourself. (Udanavarga 5:18)

From Confucianism: What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others. (Analects 15:23)

From Humanism: To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses — that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things. (Pablo Neruda, “Childhood and Poetry”)

In the midst of this divisiveness and fear, we choose love. We are committed to standing with each of you. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with one another and with every member of the Amherst College community: to listen, to learn and to honor the faith that is within each of us. Each of our traditions calls us to bring peace to the world and compassion to those in need. This is echoed by our college motto, “Terras Irradient” — “Let Them Give Light to the World.” When we embrace one another in mutual respect, there are no more strangers among us and we live in peaceful unity.

Mr. Mohammed Abdelaal, Muslim Advisor
Rabbi Bruce Bromberg Seltzer, Jewish Advisor
Deacon Roger Carrier, Catholic Advisor
Rev. Betty Lou Carthon, Goodwin A.M.E. Zion
Church Pastor and Adjunct Advisor
Rev. Dr. Tom Fisher, Adjunct Advisor to Presby-
terian Students
Prof. Jyl Gentzler, Humanist Advisor
Mr. Chris Gow, Adjunct Advisor to the Christian
Dr. Mark Hart, Buddhist Advisor
Rev. Timothy Jones, Advisor to the Hermenia T.
Gardner Bi-Semester Christian Worship Se-
Ms. Manju Sharma, Hindu Advisor
Rev. Dr. Paul Sorrentino, Director of Religious &
Spiritual Life and Protestant Advisor