This week, politicians left and right have suggested rejecting, illegally spying on, or possibly even interning Muslim Americans and Muslim refugees seeking to escape war and terror in the Middle East. These proposals have been ethically unsettling and ignorant of history and current events alike.
Perhaps most disturbing has been the link some politicians, most notably (and opportunistically) Sen. Ted Cruz, have drawn between religion and whether or not refugees should be allowed to come to America: Only Christian refugees, Cruz says, should be accepted to our country, while Muslims should be literally left out in the cold.
Fortunately, many individual Christians as well as Christian charitable organizations have been speaking up to say that anti-refugee politicians do not represent the whole of the church.
Writing at Time Magazine, for instance, Christopher J. Hale makes the case that “There’s nothing Christian about blocking non-Christian refugees to the U.S.”:
Jesus himself was an immigrant child in a strange land. When Mary and Joseph were looking for a place for Mary to give birth to Jesus, Bethlehem’s innkeepers denied the Holy Family a hotel for the night. After Jesus’s birth, Mary and Joseph fled with their refugee child to Egypt to avoid King Herod’s despotic rule. They did this even though their Judaism was a visible minority in the North African land full of indigenous and polytheistic beliefs.
If ancient Egypt can make room for refugees of religious minorities, why can’t the U.S. do so today?
“I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” Jesus tells us this is one of the top criteria that God will use to judge our lives. Jesus’s radical worldview even suggests that our enemies are our neighbors and can even be helpful to us in our times in need….Jesus tells us everyone is our neighbor—particularly those who are different than us.
His view is echoed by Christian organizations which do the hard work of finding homes for refugees in America and helping them start a new life:
A push by Republican presidential candidates to ban Syrian refugees “does not reflect what we’ve been hearing from our constituencies, which are evangelical churches across the country,” said Jenny Yang, vice president for advocacy at World Relief, an evangelical organization that helps resettle refugees. “Most of the people have been saying we want to continue to work with refugees, that what happened in Paris … doesn’t reflect who refugees are.” […]
Some Republican candidates have suggested that only Syrians who are Christian be allowed on U.S. soil, something President Barack Obama has blasted as shameful. Yang said many evangelical Christians would also oppose such a religious test, especially because many are eager to share their faith with new arrivals.
And speaking of sharing our faith, shouldn’t Christians be the most eager to welcome Muslim refugees to our cities and neighborhoods?
For years and years and years it has been nearly impossible to get missionaries (even sneakily) into parts of the Middle East. It’s so dangerous, some, assuming they can even get in, are likely to be killed so quickly they can’t do much evangelizing. And now, hundreds of thousands of beaten, hurting, orphaned, widowed (google “pure and undefiled religion”) and broken people are trying to come to US.
The church spends so much time and money sending people around the world to preach the gospel to those who haven’t heard it. Being a missionary in the Middle East is especially difficult right now: On top of strong cultural and religious barriers, ongoing wars and refugee movement makes missionary activity all but impossible in some parts of the region.
But the good news is the very people we want to reach really want to come move in next door! Why are we not leaping at this opportunity?
Why are we letting ourselves be overcome by evil instead of overcoming evil with good?