A Response to a State of Emergency: A Constitutional Threat Compounds Our Moral Crisis

The declaration of a state of emergency by the president is an alarming abuse of executive power, an executive overreach that disrespects the authority of Congress over public spending decisions. This presidential circumvention of the legislative branch is a breach of over 200 years of the norms, practices, and precedents upheld in the Constitution.

We must now demand that our elected officials stand up to Trump’s dangerous declaration, urging Congress to put an end to the declared emergency and the president’s misappropriation of power. Please call your members of Congress, and tell them that the unacceptable behavior by our president should be universally opposed. At the bottom of this letter is a sample script you might use, but please make your voice heard.

Members of Congress must treat this action as what it is — an unconstitutional action and dangerous precedent. They must respond not as members of a particular party, but as elected representatives of the people, charged to govern and protect the citizens of this nation, maintain the carefully created balance of power between the three branches of the federal government, uphold the rule of law, and “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” as they each agreed to do in their oath of office.

When executive power seeks to become a law unto itself, the future of our democracy is put at risk. Therefore, such dangerous action must be rightly and strongly challenged by the judicial and the legislative branches of government, by the integrity of both political parties, and by the resilience of other institutions like the press and civil society — including communities of faith, as this is also a moral crisis. When a political leader only seeks more and more unaccountable power, when his language and action are consistently used against the most at risk, that’s a moral, not just political, problem.

Faith communities on the southern border are already responding to a humanitarian crisis made more dangerous by presidential policies that have separated families, put immigrants in cages, blocked those seeking legal asylum, and racially divided our nation. Yet the government’s own data shows us that unauthorized border crossings are at a 20-year low, and crime rates for immigrants are consistently lower that for native born U.S. citizens. There is no national emergency on the southern border that will be solved by a wall.

In today’s extraordinarily self-absorbed speech and autocratic press conference, President Trump admitted, “I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster,” in reference to building his border wall. This is the language and logic of someone who again today showed such admiration and even envy for the power of dictators like Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un. The real national emergency that we face in America, is not a fictitious “invasion” on our southern border, but Donald Trump himself.

We need a faith response to the ongoing moral crisis in the nation, which will just be compounded by a constitutional crisis. A group of elders from faith communities across our many Christian families has just issued A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Action during the upcoming season of Lent, on behalf of the most vulnerable, democracy, and the common good. Here is a summary of our new call in this time of crisis in which “ we urge Christians to remain steadfast in their faith and engage with the deepening challenges our nation faces.”

Today, we also believe our national crisis calls for prayer, fasting, humility, and repentance. With the season of Lent before us, we ask how we can apply Lenten spiritual practices to our lives and to the dangers facing our democracy.

We pray for the soul of the nation and the resilience of our government’s processes.

We pray that we may have wisdom to discern and speak truth, and courage to stand for it in our public squares. We pray that we may be bridges that bring God’s love to our angry national discourse.

We also call upon church leaders to stand up to the misuse and abuse of political power, in protection of the constitutional checks and balances of government and the common good.

We call on clergy to pray and preach the gospel message and lead their churches to serve as the conscience of the nation.

We call on clergy to offer prayers that our political leaders will make decisions not for their self-interest but for what is right for our nation and those whom Jesus called “the least of these.”

We must pray and ask God to take us deeper and prepare us to give a response that comes not from the Left or the Right, but because we are, first and foremost, followers of Jesus.

Prayer and fasting will help us find the spiritual vigilance and availability that are necessary for action.

So help us God.

To Call Your Member of Congress: Find your member of Congress here.

Call their D.C. office directly (using information on their website) or call the congressional switchboard and ask for them to transfer you to your member’s office.

Congressional Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Sample language:

“As a constituent I am deeply concerned by the president’s decision to declare a state of emergency. There is no national emergency on the southern border—especially that will be solved by a wall. The real national emergency is the president of the United States. His action are an alarming abuse of executive power and an executive overreach that disrespects and circumvents your authority as a member of Congress over public spending decisions. As a member of Congress you must treat this as what it is — an unconstitutional action and dangerous precedent. You must respond not as members of a particular party, but as an elected representative of the people, charged to govern and protect the citizens of this nation, maintain the carefully created balance of power between the three branches of the federal government, uphold the rule of law; and to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” as you agreed to in your oath of office. I am calling to urge you to support a joint resolution of disapproval against the president’s declaration of a state of emergency.”

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