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Dear Ones,

The ACLU of Washington has filed an amendment to the original lawsuit joined by the Diocese of Olympia and asked for an injunction to stop President Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban from separating refugees from their families. The latest restrictions have indefinitely prevented children and spouses from being able to join loved ones already admitted to the U.S. under the refugee program. These latest restrictions cruelly keep families separated and re-traumatize people who have already lived through some of the most unimaginable circumstances.

Our Refugee Resettlement Office (RRO) works every day to meet the needs of the refugees who arrive in our country. Many of these refugees face enormous hardships as they struggle to make their way in a new country. This struggle is compounded by long separations from the support of family left behind in refugee camps. One refugee assisted by the RRO arrived in the United States in December 2015. He anticipated the arrival of his large family left behind in Kakuma Camp, Kenya. If they were able to come into the country, his aging parents could get proper medical care and his brothers in their 20’s and 30’s could work and earn money to help support the family.

His new life in America has been an unexpected and troubled existence of high rents and low-wage employment, impeded by 20 years of unemployment in the refugee camp and a third-grade education. He recently secured work as a baggage handler at Sea-Tac loading planes at $15 per hour. His parents, who partly blame him for the delay in their arrival and the small stipends he sends to Kakuma, keep pressing him to speed things up so they don’t spend their whole lives in limbo. He’ll be greatly relieved if, in particular, his brothers, who can never return to Somalia, get to Des Moines, Washington where they will go to work the week of their arrival and lift the burden of supporting his growing family in America and the extended family which he prays will arrive with them.

At a time when the number of refugees across the world is larger than it has ever been, the current administration continues to add new restrictions and has also cut the total number of refugees allowed into this country to an all time-low. In fact, the U.S. will soon be doing less proportionally than any other first world country. When it comes to very well vetted refugees, in a time where no credible proof has ever been offered that those in this program are a danger to our population, it is a time for us to rise as a people and a nation, not shrink back. This is not the time to be dividing families and keeping parents away from their children. This is the time to open our arms in welcome to those who have fled violence, famine, persecution, and war. This is the time for us to truly live out the ideals of our nation and turn our back on xenophobia, isolationism, and fear. For Christians, it is the time to live up to our name and our faith.


Previous Videos, Statements, and Updates







Update from Bishop Rickel on Lawsuit to Block Travel Ban

10 thoughts on “Update from Bishop Rickel on Lawsuit to Block Travel Ban

  • November 16, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Render onto Caesar what is Caesars and onto God what is God. How often the church leadership forgets this lesson.

  • November 19, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    If the Bishop wants to present his opinion as his opinion he has the right to do so and I would support his doing so. If he makes a statement that the Church is supporting such a law suite then he is stating that he represents the collective body of the Episcopal Church which I believe is overstepping reasonable bounds.

  • November 20, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Bishop RIkel: In Shelton we conducted a multi-evening Bible Study Class focusing on Matthew 22:15-21 and Titus 3:1-5. Our aim was to study some of the principles of citizenship provided for us in the bible. In our discussions, we were able to reinforce many ways in which living a Christ centered life moves us in the direction of good citizenship. We also considered the loss of civility and compromise in our current political process. We also discussed how it is creeping into our services and the church as a whole. We all agreed that we should check our attitudes at the door and concentrate on a Christian teachings and attitudes when we are in the church. We do not need things that divide us creeping into our congregation. That said, your attempts to Politicize the Church express your private views as church views and stances is clearly out of line and not in accordance with the scriptures we studied for our Bible Class. I have no problem with you expressing your private Liberal views as a private citizen but when you express those views as church views you have failed to take into account the views of all of your flock. On the issue of boycotting Israel and supporting the Palestinians you failed to take into account that the side you do support is trying to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. In joining the lawsuit against the President you again failed in reading what was proposed i.e. limiting entrance of people from six countries that support terrorists NOT all Muslims. I do not ask you to refrain from your private views but do not make them Diocese views unless you can prove all your actions were supported by ALL Diocese members. You have also failed to take into account the lessons in Matthew and Titus. Please get out of politics and back into guiding your flock. If you must get into politics then give up your current office and run for political office before your actions and attitudes divide the Diocese.

  • November 21, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Well said Mr. Kissinger

  • November 21, 2017 at 1:39 pm
    A response from Bishop Rickel:

    Dear Mr. Irwin and Mr Kissinger,

    Thank you for offering your perspectives on the action I have taken as bishop and that we have taken as a diocese. First, I would like to assure you that entering into this lawsuit is not something that I have done lightly. Even though, by our polity, I could have made the decision alone I chose not to do that and took this to the Diocesan Council, which serves as the Convention in recess and represents the churches and people of the Diocese of Olympia. This action was unanimously approved by that body.

    There are those who say that the church should stay out of politics, but I don’t believe that this is what the separation of church and state really means. In fact, I often say we can’t really stay out of it, when we had a lot to do with inventing it. Politics were deeply involved in the very genesis of our Christian faith. I don’t believe you can seriously read the Gospel and not see how politics was involved in the statements, actions, and vision of Jesus Christ. If being political means stepping out to give voice to those who have no voice, then I stand guilty as charged, and I believe I am in good company. The separation of church and state was meant to say that neither one will become the other, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t speak to each other. The decision to join this lawsuit comes down to a question of harm – how are the people we serve being harmed and what ways do we have to challenge this harm? In this case, the more than 100 refugees we provide assistance to each year through the Refugee Resettlement Office are being harmed by the policies of the President’s travel ban. This lawsuit is a way for us to challenge, and peacefully protest, the harm this policy has for those we serve as the Diocese of Olympia, through the court system. That is a civil process. So, I reject your accusations of being uncivil in regard to this. I have never stated that I am representing every Episcopalian in the Diocese of Olympia and I know full well I never could.

    Specifically to Mr. Kissinger, your post begs the question of the civility you say you so hope for. I fully reject your accusation and representation of my views on Israel/Palestine. I would defy you to find any statement where I have called for a boycott of Israel. You have either surmised this and then promoted it as fact here, or you made it up. Either way, it is irresponsible and I reject it. I would urge you to perhaps ask for clarification from me in the future, or to become more curious about the facts before you decide to put them in print. As for my “failure” to take into consideration “all of my flock,” you will not be surprised that I disagree with you on that too. As I said above, I am always quite aware that my views will never match all the views of all the various, 25000, Episcopalians we have in Western Washington. That will most likely never be the case on any subject save, I hope, that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. When I considered my action on this particular issue I also considered the refugees we serve, and have served, for over 30 years at our Refugee Resettlement Office, the staff that works with them, and the families that await the arrival of loved ones who have been unfairly stopped from finishing an already thorough vetting process. They are part of “my flock” too.

    I am glad you were willing to speak out. I will always be a fervent supporter of your right to do so, in this country, and in our Church. To your assertion that I have “failed” on the lessons of Matthew and Titus, I can only say you speak as if you have been elevated beyond those frailties, but for me I would say I fail daily on the lessons that are in the Gospel. I know myself as a sinner, in the arms of a loving, grace giving, and forgiving God. It is indeed ironic that Matthew is the Gospel you chose to study and to cite so that I might learn its lessons. Ironic, since a passage just a few chapters beyond the one you cite, Matthew 25: 31-46, and all the lessons I believe it holds, is a major reason for my decision. I will leave you, and those reading, with it.

    Matthew 25: 31-46 (The Judgement of the Nations): ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

  • November 21, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you for your reply, I truly appreciate you taking the time effort to respond.
    As to the Israel Boycott that is what was briefed to us after a convention two years ago and I can only go on what those folks brought back to me. Understand your position.
    Just wonder what you would have said to Kate Steinle’s after what happened to her at the hands of one of the types of people you propose supporting?
    I want to remain loyal to my church and congregation support it with my actions; however I reserve the right to act as my conscious dictates as do you and I respect that. I will continue to speak my mind even if if they are of no consequence.
    I will not, however, become Politically Correct for the sake of Political Correctness only.
    I did enjoy the Convention and hope to get more people involved next year.
    Hope you and yours have a good Thanksgiving.

    • November 21, 2017 at 10:42 pm

      Thank you Mr. Kissinger, I do not think any of us need to become Politically correct for the sake of being Politically correct. That, indeed, does seem shallow, so I think we can agree on that. I do believe we need to have civil, reasoned, conversations and so i appreciate your clarification on these matters and your willingness to stay engaged. Your thoughts do have consequence and that is why I do want to acknowledge them and stay in dialogue with you. I hope we can actually talk face to face about this at some point. I would like talking to you more about my thoughts on Israel/Palestine which i do have, but are not those you stated, and I thank you for hearing me on that. And to talk more about Immigration Reform, which I think definitely needs some attention, and Refugee Resettlement, which is what the ban is about and what i have taken action on, which I think unduly gets conflated with the immigration issue. We may not ever agree but perhaps we can have a better conversation face to face at some point. My belief is that, even if we disagree, we are brothers in Christ. Please pray for me. I will give thanks for you and pray for you this Thanksgiving as well. May you and yours be blessed in this season.

  • November 22, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Mr. Rickel:

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to our emails. That said, I must admit that I find the tone of many of your comments deeply offensive and they cause me to question if they are written by a Church leader whose primary interest is to nurture their flock or an individual whose primary goal is to advance their political views. Your statement that you did not take the decision alone but instead took it to the Diocesan Council adds little to the rigor of your arguments, as taking an action to a small group of individuals, who are more likely to be of a like mind, has been used as justification for numerous actions that have not stood the test of time. This lawsuit will likely take years to unfold so to take an action, that could reasonably be seen as being so divisive, in a way that avoids taking this before the larger body, that represents the Churches diverse perspectives and interests, does little to support the perspective that the primary focus was promoting Christian growth or the Episcopal Church of Olympia. I applaud the honesty of your response, ‘… I would say I fail daily on the lessons that are in the Gospel. I know myself as a sinner, in the arms of a loving, grace giving, and forgiving God.’ I know that this is true for me and believe that this is true for anyone who chooses to honestly examine themselves. So again, given our obvious human frailties why rush through such a divisive issue and avoid gaining the wisdom and support of the larger collective body?
    As to the third and fourth paragraph in your response, I see little to argue that these were not written out of anger rather than the perspective of a leader who after spending time in prayer was guided by Christian love with the goal of supporting the growth of the Church and its members.
    Finally, and the most sensitive, while I admire and respect my local priest and want to support my local Church and Priest, when I support them, the structure of the Episcopal church forces us to provide financial support to a central administration that has chosen to use the structure, made possible by this financial support, to advance their political views rather than focus on the Church and its members to support the teaching that you accurately said we should all acknowledge ‘…that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.’ I am deeply bothered by the distraction that your actions have produced. So, Mr. Rickel, as a person who cannot ignore your actions and is now contemplating leaving the Episcopal Church, because of your actions, please provide me a compelling argument that your actions, on this matter, are not a distraction to the central teaching of the church which as you stated is teaching ‘…that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.’
    Eric Irwin

  • November 30, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Mr. Rickel:

    I would gladly welcome a response

    Eric Irwin


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