"No more deaths": Religious liberty as a defense for providing sanctuary for immigrants

Rose Cuison Villazor, Ulrich Schmiedel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

In 2019, the federal government prosecuted Scott Warren, a volunteer with the humanitarian organization No More Deaths, for helping two migrants who had crossed the Sonoran Desert into the United States and for leaving water, food, and medical supplies in the desert. Warren challenged the charges against him, contending that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the government was substantially burdening the exercise of his religion. This chapter explores Warren’s prosecutions from legal and theological perspectives. Legally, the case highlights the criminalization of aiding migrants who are crossing the border into the United States and the use of RFRA to avoid criminal punishment for faith-based humanitarian acts. Theologically, the case draws attention to the public theology performed through such acts. The chapter shows how fragments of theology can be used to make a case against the state for civil initiatives that claim to uphold the law. For public theologians, the question is not so much whether Warren’s volunteering for No More Deaths is religious or nonreligious. The question is whether and which fragments of theology can help prevent the deaths of migrants at borders, both inside and outside the United States.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChristianity and the Law of Migration
EditorsSilas W. Allard, Kristin E. Heyer, Raj Nadella
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter14
Number of pages25
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9781003042198
ISBN (Print)9780367486693
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2021

Publication series

NameLaw and Religion

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