Immigration & Christian Ethics in 2020 Study Group Syllabus with Dr. Dorothee Benz

What does it mean to be people of faith in an unjust world?

Sundays after worship, boardroom, January 19 – February 9, 90 minutes each week 


In this four-week study group, we take an unflinching look at current U.S. immigration policies and ask, What does the Lord require of us in this moment in response to this situation? We will weave between scriptural guidance, theological writings on ethics, and case studies of resistance actions grounded in faith imperatives.

This inquiry is not abstract or theoretical: throughout, we will keep the people targeted by our government at the center of our discussion and discernment. We will spend time understanding what those policies are, and time discussing what we are obligated as Christians to do. Our government’s policies have concrete – and horrific – consequences for real people’s lives, and our theological searching will demand answers to the question of how those people’s lives will be impacted by the ideas we are discussing.

Our commitment to this journey is one expression of SPSA’s ongoing anti-racism work. The United States is founded on the racist subjugation of African, African-American, and indigenous people; and white supremacy has shaped immigration policy throughout our history. In the Trump era, it can be seen in the asylum ban and “remain in Mexico” policies that apply only to our southern border, the Muslim ban, and of course Trump’s hateful rhetoric.

Many of us are involved in one or another form of witness against immigration injustice, but our aim in this study is not to focus on solutions or strategy. Rather, it is to strengthen the faith that is the foundation of our actions so that, like a tree with deep roots, we can persevere and withstand the violence of our times. We hope that this “inward” look to our spiritual and theological tradition will help shine a light so we can then discern what action we are called to take.

Resource on immigration policy

Led by Benz Text: 718-314-4432; email: 

With gratitude for the collaboration of Lea and Carol


Week 1 – January 19: Holy Impatience 
Week 2 – January 26: No Salvation Without Liberation 
  • Case study: No More Deaths humanitarian aid to migrants crossing the desert
  • Scripture: Mathew 25: 31 – 46
  • Case study background: No More Deaths; Scott Warren case; Resource guide on immigration policy
  • Theological sources: Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation; Traci West, Disruptive Christian Ethics; Miguel De La Torre, Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins; Obery Hendricks, The Politics of Jesus 
Week 3 – February 2: Power and Praxis 
Week 4 – February 9: The Fierce Urgency of Now