CMSOnAir | Linda Rabben on Sanctuary

CMSOnAir | Linda Rabben on Sanctuary

Sanctuary – as a concept and as a practice – is once again being hotly debated as the United States prepares for Donald Trump to take office as the next US president. Trump has vowed to deport millions of undocumented immigrants residing in the United States. In response, a growing number of cities, schools and faith communities are pledging to resist his efforts and protect undocumented immigrants even if doing so means the loss of federal funding.

Although recorded a few weeks before the 2016 election, this timely episode of CMSOnAir features an interview with Linda Rabben, Associate Research Professor at the University of Maryland, on the refuge and protection of migrants and refugees – also known as ‘sanctuary.’ Professor Rabben traces sanctuary back to its faith traditions and examines its central role in past and present movements that sought to welcome, support, shelter and advocate for vulnerable populations. Her research has just been released in a second edition of her book, Sanctuary and Asylum: A Social and Political History (University of Washington Press 2016).

Professor Rabben has studied, written about and worked on human rights, development and environmental issues in the United States, Brazil and other countries for more than 25 years.  Since the mid-1990s, Professor Rabben has focused on international migration issues as an activist and a scholar. Her involvement in refugee and asylum issues led her to research and write Give Refuge to the Stranger: The Past, Present and Future of Sanctuary (Left Coast Press 2011).

During her conversation with CMS’s Director of Communications Rachel Reyes, Professor Rabben discusses her reasons for exploring the history of sanctuary, saying, “Giving refuge to strangers is part of our DNA as a species.” In her research, she discovered a 2,000-year history in the Catholic Church of giving sanctuary and that refuge and hospitality is deeply rooted in multiple faith traditions, including Islam.

Professor Rabben’s book, Sanctuary and Asylum: A Social and Political History, is now available for purchase through the University of Washington Press at