Evangelical leaders from major Christian organizations and denominations including the Southern Baptist Convention, World Vision, World Relief, the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, the Assemblies of God, and more released a statement Thursday urging Christians to take a compassionate approach to the ISIS refugee crisis.
After briefly summarizing the gravity of the situation, the statement says:
In light of these concerns, we affirm the following:
- Refugees possess the image of God and, as such, are infinitely valuable to God and to us.
- We are commanded to love our neighbor, and it is our privilege to love refugees.
- As Christians, we must care sacrificially for the refugee, the foreigner, and the stranger.
- We will motivate and prepare our churches and movements to care for refugees.
- We will not be motivated by fear but by love for God and others.
- Christians are called to grace-filled and humble speech about this issue.
In light of these Christian principles, we cannot allow voices of fear to dominate. Instead, we commit to actions of love and compassion for refugees who have been admitted into our nation(s) in refugee status.
The leaders responsible for this statement are to be commended given the recent Pew poll results which found that evangelical Christians were the single most likely group to disapprove of welcoming more refugees to America.
Then there’s the political rhetoric. In recent weeks, 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, this statement joins many other Christians who have spoken out against making this decision out of fear rather than love.
“We distinguish that the refugees fleeing this violence are not our enemies; they are victims,” the signers write. “We call for Christians to support ministries showing the love of Jesus to the most vulnerable, those in desperate need, and the hurting.”
This Christmas season, I hope and pray American Christians take that challenge.