“Not In Our Name” is an initiative of the McFarland United Church of Christ, and its purpose is to express opposition to the policy and consequences of immigrant children being separated from their families at U.S. borders.

“We are not hearing much about this ongoing travesty in the news these days,” said the Rev. Bryan Sirchio, pastor at McFarland UCC. “Thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families at U.S. borders are still suffering greatly, living in fear and in grossly substandard conditions and are being severely traumatized. We believe this is wrong and unnecessary. We can have a robust and secure border security policy without treating people this way.”

“We want these children and families to know that they have not been forgotten,” church moderator and NION organizer Helene Benink added. “We are hoping and praying that more children will not need to die in captivity in order for this issue to grab the headlines once again. We want these kids to know that many people are working hard to completely end this policy and to help separated family members find each other.”

NION came into being during the summer of 2019 and is now ready to launch its campaign nationally.

“We felt like we needed to do more than just complain or be outraged and heartbroken,” church member and campaign leader Rachel Saladis said. “Our pastor raised the issue in his messages from time to time. We prayed for these families, but we wanted our prayers to lead to stronger and more tangible actions. We now want to invite people from other faith traditions or no faith tradition at all to have an opportunity to do something specific together and to collectively express our opposition to this unnecessary lack of compassion.”

The congregation encourages anyone interested in joining this campaign to visit its website or Facebook page, or to contact the NION task force at nion@mcfarlanducc.org.

As for the specific actions people can take, the following potential steps are found on the NION page of McFarland UCC’s website.

– NION bracelets and T-shirts are for sale. The bracelets are made by workers in a small factory in Haiti the congregation helps support. They are made from recycled plastic water bottles. Proceeds from sales support organizations committed to reuniting immigrant families.

– NION Facebook page for ongoing conversation, articles and other information.

– NION petition that must be signed digitally. McFarland UCC has set a goal of 100,000 signatures, the minimum number required to receive a response from the White House. Church members hope people will sign it and share it on social media.

‘Not In Our Name’ song

A song was composed called “Not In Our Name.” There is a video of this song on the website, as well as a free download of sheet music so other communities can use it in their own context.

McFarland UCC is encouraging other musicians and artists to create original songs and works of art focusing on this issue as well.

“We are very much aware that campaigns such as this one will not by themselves bring an end to the injustice and inhumanity of separating immigrant children from families,” Sirchio said. “Perhaps our campaign’s greatest value is that it is giving us an opportunity to find our voices, take specific actions, keep the issue alive in our own hearts and in the public sphere and to express our opinions of dissent with clarity, respect and creativity.

“To whatever extent this inhumane border policy continues and these children remain in cages, this will not be done in our name. We will work collaboratively with all people committed to treating these families with dignity and compassion.”

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