Controversial ‘sanctuary’ on offer once more in the US

New York. Members of the US religious community are reviving the “sanctuary movement” of the 1980s by launching a national drive to protect undocumented workers who face possible deportation from the United States. The sanctuary movement two decades ago offered protection in the United States to refugees fleeing wars in Central America. The new effort will be based on local congregations, and will provide assistance to undocumented workers who face the threat of being deported because they do not have the proper papers to work legally. “We are responding to a broken system that is increasingly creating broken families, and broken lives,” said the Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, a leader of the New Sanctuary Movement. (Ecumenical News International)

The chaplains at Flinders have been inviting staff to meet with them for lunch. Such a lunch with the Head of the School of Philosophy last week reminded me of the link between the Religious Centre and the School of Philosophy during the early days of Flinders. The Religious Centre provided sanctuary for conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War. The chaplain, Rev. Andrew Patterson, beat a well-worn path between the Religious Centre and the School of Philosophy, as Flinders took the lead in the Anti-Vietnam Moritorium and the anti-apartheid protests against the visit of the South African rugby team. Heady days!

The details may change, and how chaplains best offer support to staff and students constantly reviewed. But while there is a Religious Centre there will always be a place of sanctuary.

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