One of President Trump’s largest support groups comes from a branch of the Christian faith, but that support was nowhere to be seen Tuesday at Rockville Presbyterian Church, which hosted people from more than 30 faith communities.
“We needed to do more here in Montgomery County to live out the real values of the county, which are those of inclusion and welcoming, especially refugees,” said Reverend Mansfield Kaseman, interfaith community liaison for Montgomery County’s Office of Community Partnerships.
Reverend Kaseman started leading meetings, welcoming refugees more than half a year ago.
“This is an initiative that grew out of the dangerous rhetoric of the presidential campaign,” said Kaseman.
But Tuesday’s resource meeting struck a chord among the faith leaders, just days after Trump banned travel from seven countries, something Kaseman calls a “Muslim Ban.”
“Over a third of us are foreign-born,” said Kaseman. “So, they are us, and we are them.”
Luis Martinez emigrated from Mexico; now, he helps refugees adjust to the county by providing inexpensive health services.
“I have a special compassion and a special endearment for all of the immigrants, and I understand where they are coming from,” said Luis Martinez, employee with Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Since the election, there’s been a 60 percent increase in hate crimes in the area, half of which happened in schools.
Reverend Kaseman says tolerance will be achieved by expanding the county’s current efforts.
“You’ll find in the current issue of teaching tolerance, put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center, they feature in part what we’re doing here in Montgomery County to counter bullying, to counter hate,” said Kaseman. “So, this will be building on that.”