“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.“ – C.S. Lewis
I do not possess the qualifications listed on the resumes of every faith leader found under Donald Trump’s catalog of endorsements, and my rebuke of them may very well land upon deaf ears, but for my own conscience I write this post. Frank Herbert said that “reason is the first victim of strong emotion,” and as I stand back and watch an overwhelming fear engulf reason and compassion when it comes to Syrian refugees, I’ve never been so sure of his words.
The vast majority of debates I’ve had about refugees have been with self-proclaimed Christians, so here goes:
I can scroll through my Facebook on any given day and find your posts on refugees and terrorism, and very few are accurate. Misconceptions postulated on fear are ruling Conservative Christian media, and to say it’s troublesome is a gross understatement. So, first off, some facts:
Dear Christians, It’s not the “simple fix” you think it is.
This issue will not be fixed overnight, period.
Dear Christians, It’s not a “little issue” that you can forget about as you head off to your potlucks and feel morally justified in your seclusion because every month a donation is pulled from your bank account to support a child in Africa.
In 2013 the UN estimated that roughly 90,000 people had been killed in the conflict, and by August of last year that number was already above 250,000, and as of February of this year they were already talking about over 470,000. 362 civilian deaths were reported during the first 10 days of Ramadan alone. Unlike here in America, they don’t have a military or government attempting to protect the innocent; in fact, 314 of those killed were taken by Government forces. They’re facing terror from every angle, I recommend this article as a great overview:
A UN commission of inquiry has evidence that all parties to the conflict have committed war crimes – including murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearances. They have also been accused of using civilian suffering – such as blocking access to food, water and health services through sieges – as a method of war.
The UN Security Council has demanded all parties end the indiscriminate use of weapons in populated areas, but civilians continue to die in their thousands. Many have been killed by barrel bombs dropped by government aircraft on gatherings in rebel-held areas – attacks which the UN says may constitute massacres.
ISIS has also been accused by the UN of waging a campaign of terror. It has inflicted severe punishments on those who transgress or refuse to accept its rules, including hundreds of public executions and amputations. Its fighters have also carried out mass killings of rival armed groups, members of the security forces and religious minorities, and beheaded hostages, including several Westerners.
This is everyday life for those caught in the crossfire:
Dear Christians, This is not a false narrative, it’s not hyped up, it’s blood and bombs and heartbreak. It’s lost children and broken families, and it’s our Savior’s creations crying out for help to the sound of crickets from His people. While we can debate about the inaction from the West, which is a valid argument, posting an anti-Obama meme does not do anything to help these people. “Helping them where they are” is currently not an option.
As Ravi Zacharias once said, “We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right.” Remember, dear Christians, that Westboro Baptist and Lutheran preachers use the same book on Sunday mornings, yet come to wildly different conclusions. Radical Islam is toxic, and it should be fought with the sharpest of swords, but equating all Muslims under that umbrella is irresponsible and dangerous.
In 2011 the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center estimated that between 82 and 97 percent of the victims of Radical Islamic Terrorism are Muslims, and I imagine that since then the latter number is more accurate.
Dear Christians, We’ve allowed fear to drain us of compassion and dignity. We’ve allowed terrorists to turn us into terrified cowards who feel empowered and patriotic when we share anti-refugee propaganda. We have the opportunity to bring in hurting and suffering individuals and be the hands and feet of Jesus, and instead we have allowed terrorists to poison our purpose.
Maybe that’s the greatest tragedy of all, fellow Christians.
Dear Christians, Anti-Refugee articles only give about 25% of the story, and the sites that share them should know better. As an example, this article:
Comparing European Jews of early 20th century Europe and today’s Syrian refugees is ludicrous. Let’s analyze, shall we?
Were Jews in Europe assimilated into their culture? Did they speak the language? Check, and check. Syrian refugees into Europe? Eh, no.
Did they practice a religion which easily meshed into the Western concepts of the secular state and freedom of the individual? Yes. Syrian refugees? Uh, that’s a big no.
Dear Christians, Was assimilation and language what made the Jews worthy of being rescued? Worthy of Christ’s love? Without their ability to assimilate and speak English, should Auschwitz have just continued unencumbered? When we’re talking about human beings, we don’t use their language as a measurement of their worth – it’s dehumanizing.
This article, and hundreds like it, always fail to mention that America has a superb vetting and monitoring system for refugees. The seemingly patriotic masses want to preach that America is better than other countries – border-lining on Nationalism – until it comes to issues like this, then they push fearful rhetoric and videos from Europe and Canada, and pretend as though it would be the same way here. That’s just not the case.
Dear Christians, That video you shared from Germany is only a balm for your guilt, meant to make you feel justified in your stance against refugees.
“I’m protecting my children!” you scream on social media.
No, you’re showing them that fear overrides the love Christ has for the innocent you’ve thrown in the basket with the guilty. There are ways that we can try and protect ourselves, and no one is saying you shouldn’t, but disregarding so many innocents out of fear is not the way to do that.
You can take a video or clip and attempt to prove a point, but for every clip you find, someone else can show the opposite.
It is the nightmare situation that no bride wants on her wedding day: as one of Jo Du’s bridesmaids did up the zip on her dress, it broke.
Jo didn’t know it yet, but there was no need to panic.
Because next door was a tailor, a man who had only arrived in Canada days before after fleeing Syria’s war-torn violence, unable to speak a word of English.
Ibrahim Halil Dudu did not hesitate to come to the rescue.
‘Canada is my country now’
“I was so excited and so happy,” Ibrahim told CTV News through a translator. “I like to help Canadian people from my heart.”
Yazan Al-Salkini, 19, and 14-year-old Nabil Al-Salkini told the news station they like to volunteer at such events to “give back to the community” where they were given the chance of a fresh start.
“Life stopped. We lost our home. It got bombed. Burned down. We couldn’t go to school because civil war started. We were about to be persecuted or killed,” explained the elder of the two.
And the veterans attending?
A veteran standing in line told KUOW: “The whole reason veterans fought for what they did is so that people like that could come here.”
(If you you believe that we must choose between helping veterans and refugees, I covered that false dilemma in this article.)
Dear Christian, This is America, this is not Europe, or Canada, or anywhere else accepting refugees. This is America, and we are good at what we do. Not one refugee has successfully committed a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, despite what your friend’s “Somebody’s gotta tell the truth!” post says. Those committing terrorist attacks in America are radicalized citizens, illegals, or immigrants, etc., which are all subject to a very different entrance process than refugees, and refugees are fleeing from the exact same monsters we’re trying to protect ourselves from. Refusing to help people who desperately need us is exactly what terrorists want us to do. Why steal your life when they can steal your witness? Why plot your death when they can plot the death of Christ’s message? While saying that all refugees are dangerous is the edgy and “patriotic” game to play, people need to be told the truth… like this:
“I spent ten years, over ten years, in the Central Intelligence Agency, serving overseas and in the Middle East, and let me tell you, if you’re a terrorist and you want to come to the United States, the worst possible way to try and do it is as a refugee. You’ll go through a year and a half to two years of vetting. If you want to come to the United States and you’re a terrorist, you’re much better off just coming through on the Visa Waiver program from Europe, or just walking across the border in Mexico. So, I think there’s a lot of hysteria, unjustified hysteria around the refugee situation. And I think we need to be more careful, and thoughtful, and accurate with the way we talk about that issue, because it has implications for a variety of other interests that we have overseas.” – Evan McMullin during a Special Report Interview with Brett Baier
Dear Christians, Liberty, bravery, decency and every other ideal under the umbrella of American exceptionalism, cannot coexist in a society that is preoccupied with simply eliminating risks. Countries that have committed heinous crimes against humanity have many things in common, but one key element in allowing a minority to gain power and commit mass atrocities begins with a promise of safety for one subset of society. This speaks against both the anti-gun and anti-refugee activists, and both are really just dressing up the same fear mongering tactics they each complain about.
Dear Christians, You’re worried about the lack of Christian influence in today’s society, about the lack of respect for your God, yet you support a man who has not only shown himself to be racist and sexist, but has shown a cold disregard for those suffering?
Does the President of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, want to weigh in on this?
What about Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition?
“I am indeed myself supporting him… It’s frankly irresponsible to stay on the sidelines right now, given where the republic is heading,” says Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List.
Dear Christians, Do you notice that the politicians who tell you that they “prayed over running for office,” and “prayed over their support of Trump” never start off their comments on refugees with those words? Maybe it’s because “I prayed about the hundreds of thousands of suffering people and we need to not help them” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Dear Christians, Is it possible that many of our “leaders in the faith” have got this wrong? Is it time to step away from them and go in a different direction?
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an obstinate German who refused to quit fighting for the Jews, faced imprisonment and eventual death in a Nazi concentration camp, he weighed the message of the cross to the risk of his life – to him the former greatly outweighed the latter. “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die,” were words he didn’t just say, but lived. “The Church is the Church only when it exists for others…not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.” While the majority of Germans were Christian, and many “leaders of the faith” stood in silence, many even supportive of the Nazis, Dietrich willingly broke that chain with his life.
William Wilberforce became so dedicated to the the abolition of slavery that he made himself ill, was put in danger, and was ostracized by friends and colleagues. “If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” He said that living such a life was simply discharging a debt of gratitude.
And how could I possibly write this post without bringing up a man who risked everything, and gave everything, Martin Luther King Jr.? “The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.”
I bring up these men because the cross we are being asked to bear for the sake of refugees is not even close to the danger they faced, yet they welcomed it.
What good are we, dear Christians? Bathroom monitors? Society’s moral babysitters? Maybe society didn’t create our irrelevancy, maybe we did. Is it time that we choose to love despite risk (especially when that risk is so small)? I think so. Want to make Christianity relevant? Then make it worthy of relevance, make it more like Christ.
Those caught between voting for a man or woman who both stand antithetical to their faith should take a step back and realize that they don’t have to make that choice. The false choice of the least evil only has the power we give it. I’ve made the choice to vote for Evan McMullin because I’ve made the choice to stand by faith, to vote on behalf of the unborn, the refugees, and American exceptionalism. For me, this issue is more important than most. It’s more important than my gun rights, it’s more important than my insurance, and it’s more important than anything a Supreme Court could do. I also know how important it is to have someone familiar with foreign policy who can handle this situation. Attempting to scare me with “Hillary will win!” isn’t going to work because, quite honestly, when it comes to the issues I mention in this post she IS the least evil between the two leaders.
Do you hate the lack of Christ’s influence in the world around you? Then maybe it’s time to listen to Him and stop being a part of the “lack of influence” you despise.
“He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-37)