“When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution — that’s shameful… That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion”. ~ President Obama
President Obama’s “shameful” statement was calling out Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and anyone else for their opinion that the Syrian refugees that we bring into the United States should be Syrian Christians.
The problem with all of us is that we tend to spin things to suit our own opinions. We do the same thing with the Bible, Lord forgive us. President Obama is spinning. It’s actually not been that uncommon in our past to take in minorities who are the most vulnerable and in the most danger, and religion has been a part of the consideration. And while almost all Syrian refugees are fleeing political persecution, the Syrian Christians are also fleeing religious persecution.
Consider these two quotes from an article you can read here:
- Any religious minority is at greater risk and therefore due extra consideration, said Randall Everett, president of 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, a Virginia-based nonprofit dedicated to fighting religious persecution. “I don’t know that I would say put Christians at the front of the line in every case, but I would say, as a policy, to put religious minorities first,” Everett said. “In Iraq and Syria, Christians and Yazidis are the minority, and their situation is dire.”
- “It would not be unprecedented to choose refugees in part on the basis of their religion,” said Jessica Vaughan, of the Center for Immigration Studies. “
Doesn’t it even make more sense to take those in a “more dire situation”? And you can easily accuse me of spinning this because a.) I’d personally rather to see Syrian Christians pulled out of the fire and b.) I feel they would be less of a risk to our society.
And while I have pastor friends and Christian friends who believe we are called to take in refugees without regard to their religion and they can make Biblical arguments for doing so, I can too. How about Galatians 6:10 – “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” And in context, this verse from Galatians is when the writer is encouraging people not to grow weary in doing good as we’re called to share each others’ burdens. If we’re going to take in refugees, it’s purely his own personal opinion that makes President Obama call it shameful to consider giving Christian refugees preference. It’s certainly not un-American and certainly not unprecedented.