Sanctuary Movement

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Founder
John Fife and Jim Corbett
Time Period
1982
Description
As Central America experienced a variety of civil conflicts and violence in the 1970s and 1980s, a number of immigrants came to the United States seeking shelter. In 1980, Presbyterian minister John Fife and Quaker Jim Corbett helped propose a sanctuary for refugees, with Fife’s Southside Presbyterian Church becoming one of the first sanctuary churches in 1982. Many sanctuary advocates justified the movement on various religious grounds, including biblical precedents for providing refuge to those guilty of manslaughter (Numbers 35:6-34). By 1986, there were more than 300 sanctuary congregations in the United States, which also include Lutherans, United Church of Christ members, Roman Catholics, and Jews.

The movement did experience controversy, as some members were convicted of assisting illegal immigrants in the 1980s.

However, the Sanctuary Movement has received official endorsements from major religious groups, including the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Interactive Timeline(s)
Social Movements and Religion
Race/Ethnicity and Religion
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Social Movements and Religion in American History
Race/Ethnicity and Religion in American History
Photographs

Southside Presbyterian Church, Tucson AZ- Flickr- photo by National Farm Worker Ministry (CC BY 2.0)

Reverend John Fife- Flickr- photo by Dave Bezaire (CC BY-SA 2.0)

La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles, a leading church in the sanctuary movement- Flickr- photo by Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Book/Journal Source(s)
Reid, Daniel, Robert Linder, Bruce Shelley, and Harry Stout, 1990. Dictionary of Christianity in America. Downers Grove, IL.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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