On Immigration, Refugees, and Faith

Protest in Copley Square, January 29 2017. Photo: #NoBanNoWall protest in Copley Square, January 29 2017.

The executive branch of the U.S. government has just stopped entry of refugees for 120 days, and stopped admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely, claiming: “that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States” [1].

To block refugees coming from seven Muslim-majority countries, and to “prioritize refugee claims” for those who are not Muslim, is to enact religious discrimination as law.

As Christians, we should have no part in this.

As Christians, we should be the first to welcome refugees. And I have deep respect for faith-based organizations, like World Relief, that do.

I am praying. I hope you are, too. But if that is all we are doing, it's not all we are saying. 58% of Protestants voted for this administration (and 81% of white evangelicals) [2]. Donald Trump promised — early and often — to enact a ban on Muslims and refugees. The executive order simply follows through on that election promise. If we Christians are shrugging this off, or waiting to see how things turn out, we still are responsible for the results. Whatever our reasons, our voting bloc drove this election.

This was a rough election year, sure. There are a lot of problems, and anger, in our nation. I know friends voted for this administration, even while disagreeing with much of the angry rhetoric. The election is done; we have our result; I'm not going to point blame today. But if you disagreed with the vitriol, or just never took it seriously, I hope you'll find a place to draw a line now.

I'm putting my line down. We've just banned refugees from seven war-torn countries. Of the seven, we're bombing five [3]. There will be no security if we antagonize Islam in these broad strokes. There will be no stability if we continue with climate policies predicted to worsen droughts, after drought destroyed 85% of Syria's livestock and displaced 1,500,000 Syrian farmers leading into the current crisis [4]. There will be no excuse, if we do all of this and refuse to accept refugees.

All the more because of my faith, I am opposed to this brand of “America first.” I hope you'll think, I hope you'll pray, and I hope you'll do something: Share, call your representative, volunteer, donate [5].

“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” 37Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? 40The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

Matthew 25:35–40