A vocal critic of the “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement separating illegal immigrant parents and children, Bishop Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, told Bold TV he was glad to see President Trump’s executive order this week to stop the procedure.
“‘It’s a first step, and I hope that it’s a more than symbolic first step,” Bishop Curry said. “I’ve been doing this [protesting] since the Bush administration, the Obama administration and now the Trump administration, because the lives and the people who are affected, that’s what really matters.”
Bishop Curry said the separation policy unified the country in some respects.
“This is actually a point of convergence between liberals and conservatives, we actually all care about families,” Bishop Curry said. “Now you can get into a whole bunch of specifics where we disagree, but we really do believe children ought to be raised in the context of families, however you define those in a family. That’s the healthy context. And to separate them, clearly it caused a response that was at once visceral, but actually the visceral was related to some shared values.”
Bishop Curry said he had been ordained almost 40 years and seen hypocrisy across all sides of political debates.
“I’m in the sin business,” Bishop Curry said. “I deal with a lot of sin, and one thing I’ve learned is St. Paul was right when he said ‘All have sinned, and all fall short of the glory of God.’ He didn’t know about Left and Right, but it applied to Left and Right. That’s human, and when it’s wrong, it’s wrong. But what’s right, and I really do believe what’s right, if we believe in the innate dignity of every human person, like the Bible, the Book of Genesis says, everybody’s created in the image and likeness of God, that that confers value and worth on every human being, then how do we treat those human beings? That value guides us. That was behind Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence. That’s a founding ideal for us, so why can’t we come together and sit down and do the hard bargaining and the hard planning if we believe that value, then work to create an immigration system that actually enshrines that in it?”
When I asked Bishop Curry about whether we should restrict immigration to protect poor Americans who need help here at home, he said that was a fair debate, but one that should be grounded in a positive, proactive vision.
“We can’t do everything, do be sure. But there’s not reason, this country has been absorbing and receiving immigrants for a long time,” he said. “This is not anything new. Most of us in this country, unless we’re Native Americans, are basically descendants of immigrants. So we’ve done that before. The question may be at what levels, how much can we do and absorb. that’s a fair discussion, there’s nothing wrong with that. what i’m saying is to say how many can we keep out, that is a negative bias discussion that doesn’t arise from values. it may arise from fears, anxieties, and that’s not the basis for a good, positive, constructive debate that actually could leave us somewhere.”
Bishop Curry gave a nod to former President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, for his work on immigration reform.
“Ronald Reagan tried his best, he really did, to help to reform the system. you know, it worked on some levels and din’t on others. but if we would just try,” he said. “Right now we’re just squabbling with each other and not trying to deal, not with the problem, but with human beings. The issue is: why can’t the president and the leaders of Congress sit down and in good faith say ‘we’re going to fix this.’?”
Bishop Curry said in some respects he’s had to resist the anti-Trump so-called “resisters.”
“Every time the media would say ‘this is a protest march,’ I would resist and say ‘No, this is a prayer vigil,'” Curry said. Every time they say ‘Is this an anti-Trump march, I said, ‘No, this is about how do we live our values in the public square.’ I refuse to engage in anti-Trump rhetoric. I oppose his policies, but I’m not going to attack the man as a human being, because he’s a child of God, too.”
Bishop Curry said he was criticized for allowing the Episcopal Church to host President Trump’s Inaugural Prayer in January 2017, yet he stood by his decision.
“We hold our prayer service at the National Cathedral for the inauguration regardless of who the president is, because they need our prayers,” Bishop Curry said. “I may pray one moment one moment and protest the next, but I’m going to pray.”
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others. A founding POLITICO reporter, Carrie contributed on political economy at Forbes and wrote editorials for The Washington Times. After earning a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, she managed credit risk at Goldman Sachs and researched for Edward Conard, Bain Capital founding partner and American Enterprise Institute scholar. She earned a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.