Dear Christians, Faith or Fear?

!!!!This post was written before the election, but reposted due to recent events!!!!

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:

Dear Christians,

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.

conflict

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?

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Does the President of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, want to weigh in on this?

14517572_1839939716225563_4207271997610732323_n

What about Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition?

refugees1

“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.

refugees5

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)

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39 thoughts on “Dear Christians, Faith or Fear?

Add yours

  1. Powerful and compelling argument to anyone with eyes to see or ears to hear.

    “Some of them were persuaded by what he said, but others refused to believe a word of it. When the unbelievers got cantankerous and started bickering with each other, Paul interrupted: “I have just one more thing to say to you. The Holy Spirit sure knew what he was talking about when he addressed our ancestors through Isaiah the prophet: Go to this people and tell them this: “You’re going to listen with your ears, but you won’t hear a word; You’re going to stare with your eyes, but you won’t see a thing. These people are blockheads! They stick their fingers in their ears so they won’t have to listen; They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to look, so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face and let me heal them.””
    ‭‭Acts‬ ‭28:24-27‬ ‭MSG‬‬

    “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.”
    ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:17-18‬ ‭MSG‬‬

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love those! So glad you put them in the comments, because my post was getting long and I debated over adding 1 John 4:17-18 to my post and decided to take it off last minute after previous complaints on post length. Looks like someone above wanted it there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Masterful article. Speaks equally to the heart and the mind. Particularly liked your distinction between immigrant and refugee. The most patriotic Americans I know are those who came here grateful to escape horrors such as those you eloquently showed in this piece.

    Religious and conservative leaders such as those you mentioned, or those formerly or currently affiliated with faith organizations, who ignore the points you have made in favor of the Republican candidate or Democratic candidate as only acceptable alternative, do so for reasons of power and influence. I’ve recently become more aware of Evan McMullin, and will be writing him in on my ballot, in part for the astute position you quoted in this post. Given what we know of the Republican candidate, including recent revelations, any religious or conservative leader worth their salt would offer him their enthusiastic endorsement and support. Because that’s what followers of Christ are supposed to be in this world: its salt.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for such an eloquent reminder to us Christians that our calling is to love our Lord and that loving our neighbor is one way to show that love for God. Fear should not prohibit us from exercising that love.

    “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is Love.” 1 John 4:8

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have become convinced in recent weeks that there is only one person who has earned my vote and that is Evan. I will be writing him in (if I am able to at the voting booth). However, I must be honest in that I’ve been fearful of the refugee thing for all the reasons you stated. I thank you for writing a thoughtful article about it and you have caused me to take a step back from that fear and revisit my knowledge (or lack thereof) on the matter and I will be in prayer about it. God bless.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. As both a U.S. Army veteran (retired as of August 2009) and a former seminarian with a Master of Divinity (Non-Thesis) in textual criticism, I wholeheartedly love your post. I can honestly state from a point-of-view of progressivism under the Social Gospel as detailed by Walter Rauschenbusch (c. 1861 – 1918) that we are obligated to address the needs of society before casting judgment. I could not agree more with your position concerning the hypocrisy of Christian leadership advocating a dismissal of political refugees desperately hoping to be accepted by nations that we value and care about their well-being.

    The problem with dismissing entire populations of distressed and innocent victims of circumstances beyond their control is that we are promoting a type of xenophobia that is counter to the very ideals instilled in Christianity. Throughout the NT, Jesus spoke about caring for the sick and poor more times than references of either Heaven or Hell combined, which appears to that the modern Evangelical movement has dismissed as a standard for their faith instead of political involvement. However, I can speak from experience that the hypocrisy occurs from as low as the nominal layperson to the seasoned biblical theologian, but the problem with affecting change in a movement is you will undoubtedly be met with intolerance and internal church politics.

    Again, I loved your post and had as a result of this added your blog to my bookmarks, and have signed up for your newsletter. I know that intense theological debates are not particular interests of a majority of people with daily lives, but it is pleasant reading from a proponent of social change in today’s society. Oh, and I added you on Twitter, as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for your thoughtful message. Evan McMullin also has my support for President. He is a center-right conservative who worked in the CIA in counter-terrorism, volunteered for the UN in refugee vetting and resettlement, has degrees in international law & diplomacy and business, worked as an investment banker, just left his job as Chief Foreign and Domestic Policy Director for the U.S. House of Representatives to run for president. Pro-Life, Pro-Constitution. Experience working for unity across the aisle. Believes the way we treat the world’s most vulnerable is a measure of our humanity. Evan brought “Caesar” they Syrian defector to Congress several years ago to share photos and data on the genocide Assad was perpetrating on the Syrian people. He is proactive instead of reactive. General Michael Michael Hayden, past head of CIA and NSA calls Evan a “breath of calm and competence”. evanmcmullin.com

    Like

  7. Thank you so much for this blog post. I am so grateful to have found your blog today. I’m an Orthodox Christian who has been despairing over what I see as very unChristian Christian response to refugees and even my fellow Americans. I deeply respect your position. Thank you very much for expressing yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. MaryBeth: Thank you very much for this well thought out piece. I spent many long years active in the Tea Party movement as a non-Christian Libertarian. I’ve left the movement (and am still an “independent” on the religious front).

    All too often in the movement I saw good folks who presented themselves as followers of Jesus, but who used language more reminiscent of the Trail of Tears than the Stations of the Cross. I was witnessed at for my lack of the correct faith, and was eventually ostracized as a “fake Libertarian” for not agreeing with the religious based social agenda the groups in my state were pushing.

    I found too often that any attempt at discussion I made on issues, quickly turned to animosity directed at the heathen “atheist” with statements directed at my lack of faith instead of addressing issues.

    You’ve taken the position in this essay that I could not – even though I stood in exactly the same spot on the issues. I wasn’t the correct faith, so I would never be taken seriously when asking WWJD? By you speaking as a conservative follower of Jesus, and educating others on what their Lord and Savior stood for, I hope that your message will be received better than my own message, with the same information was.

    As those who witness at me (seldom do they witness to me) often say, if you can open one mind to the truth, then this piece is worth the time and effort it took you to get to this point. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations for abandoning the Christians trying to flee from their Muslim oppressors. Congratulations for brainlessly cheering the importation of a population we know has embedded terrorists in it.

    Like

  10. Thank you for this post and your comments to Republicans on Twitter. (I haven’t read your other articles yet.) I’ve been deeply disturbed for a long time at how un-Christian so many self-proclaimed Christians are. I’m even more disturbed by Christians who support Donald Trump, who is just so full of hate. Unfortunately, nobody is listening to each other. Thank you for your efforts getting people to listen.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. 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?

    Best point made above.

    I am no Christian and in fact I am an atheist Jew who once served his temple with dedication and passion. I don’t practice any longer. Acually isn’t is Erev Yom Kippur, The singular most important day of the Jewish year is tomorrow. We reflect on the year past, make amends for all those we may have intentionally or unintentionally harmed and pray we get written in the book of life. The majority of Jews who celebrate Rosh Hashanah and subsequently Yom Kippur we call twice a year Jews. They only attend synagogue on those two days, write checks to the temple renew their membership. I refuse to become even that.

    For me religion, any religion is hypocrisy. It preaches tolerance and acceptance as it builds walls around itself and scorns those not of equal faith and belief which is why they allá del to make everyone a homogeny of themselves. All religions are at odds with one another. Only a unified humanity of one mind will ever succeed at all the good religion touts of itself. But if ppl do actually treat others well, with respect and a yearning to understand the differences and talents of each other, great. I can do that without the Bible or Quran or book of the dead or what have you. It’s common sense to treat others as you would care to be treated. With dignity and acceptance. Religious dogma, commandments and ritual serve to restrict human potential, not unleash it. Humans are artists and adventurers and seekers of truth and understanding. That is the ultimate expression of our shared human experience.

    Like

  12. Thank you for this article! This is yet another challenge to me in a sequence of thought provoking books, sermons and videos that have caused me to examine myself to determine whether I am in the faith.

    I heard about you when your tweet storm was retweeted to my twitter feed. That was E.P.I.C. and true! So sad that this is where we now find ourselves.

    I have been challenged by Michael Ramsden’s (of Ravi Zacharias Ministries) exposition of the Story of the Good Samaritan. I highly recommend it. The entire audio is fantastic but if you want to skip to the parable, start at time 24:45 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwmmyK_0yuQ

    I’ve subscribed to your blog and I’m following you on twitter. Looking forward to more thought provoking articles.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Marybeth, I am so impressed with you. You give me hope!

    I no longer hang out much with conservative Christians due to their robot-like endorsement of anything Republican without thinking. Thank you for reminding me of how much I used to love hanging out with conservative Christians like you many years ago! I have put you on my bookmarks as well and will even try Twitter again. Thanks for bridging the gulf between “faith talk” and real faith and action. Thank you also for having rational and thoughtful discussions of very important issues . Thank you for sincerely wanting to be Christ to the world. You are a wonderful example. Here are some words that have inspired me for years. –One of my favorites.

    Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which Christ is to bless all people now. — Teresa of Avila

    Thanks again! I will be checking in periodically and will be forwarding your link to other folks.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I really appreciate what you have written here. Not because I agree with you about everything, but that you challenge me to evaluate my own thinking. I’m discovering no lines can be drawn between persons. I am a Christian Democrat. I am an orthodox liberal. My orthodoxy is that of Bonhoeffer and Bruggemann. The commandment of love overshadows all others. When we can see into the heart of the other, we will truly love that person. “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10.34-35)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Such a refreshingly humane and thoughtful post in this season of hateful demagoguery, thank you! I’m a liberal atheist and may disagree with many of your political views, but totally agree with your rational and kind approach to the awful plight of these refugees.

    Like

  16. Such a heartfelt blog that soothes my soul. Great display of love & compassion. So glad to find this jewel in the midst of all the angry hateful rhetoric. May God bless you to continue to speak with boldness and authority.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I believe that you are a ‘rare bird’ who sees much more widely that the labels
    of political parties or even specific religions would ‘permit’.

    There is a man named Thich Nhat Hanh who is a Buddhist monk from Vietnam –
    you may have heard of him. When faced with a choice of setting himself on fire
    in protest (as many monks did), he took a different path and decided to bring together
    people from the north and the south of Vietnam to the peace talks in 1967 in Paris.
    IIRC Thich Nhat Hanh was nominated for a Nobel Peace prize as a result.
    He strongly believed that ending the war was the most important thing.
    He is a most gentle being from my limited experiences in his presence.

    His essential advice is ‘your eyes, ears, fingers, indeed your whole being
    should be connected to your heart’. From there go into the world with love
    behind your actions and your thoughts. It is not easy of course as we are
    humans and can easily lose sight of the deeper truths, feel fear, have our
    buttons pushed and yes get angry. But such times are the places where
    the real work begins which is being gentle with ourselves. It is hard work
    and demands a lot of compassion, easier said than ‘done’.

    I very much appreciate where you are coming from and I hope that
    the results of the election spur you to move into a deeper realm
    guided only by your devotion to coming from a place of love in
    all that you do.

    Regards …

    –David

    Liked by 4 people

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