Members of an interfaith coalition Wednesday objected to the “Christian exceptionalism” Gov. Butch Otter expressed last week on his preference for admitting Christian refugees to the United States.
About 35 people from the Interfaith Equality Coalition came to the governor’s office to present a letter after being told he was not able to meet with them. The governor’s press secretary, Jon Hanian, accepted the letter on the governor’s behalf and told the group he would relay their concerns to him.
Otter made remarks in a Feb. 11 Idaho Public Television interview that he supported giving preference to Christian refugees over those of other faiths. He later told reporters at an Idaho Press Club breakfast that he distinguished between preference and discrimination in the executive order issued on immigration President Donald Trump Feb. 4.
The group, in its letter, said it disagreed “that our great state desires to give preference to Christians as refugees” over others.
“The Christian voices among us, surrounded by our brothers and sisters of other religions, decry continuing Christian exceptionalism in our country as if Christian lives and perspectives are more valued, and Christianity as a target of war and genocide is somehow more grievous, than when other peoples are also targeted by the evils of war, nationalism and religious extremism,” they wrote.
The letter was signed by more than 100 people.
“We welcome refugees because they need refuge, not because they look, act or believe the same things we do,” said Rev. Andrew Kukla, pastor of Boise’s First Presbyterian Church.