What do American Christians really think about welcoming Syrian refugees?
In the past week, a large number of United States governors have announced that Syrian refugees aren't welcome in their states.
While I'm not aware of a lost of the religion followed by these governors, most of them are Republicans, with the assumption that most of them are Conservative Christians. In the wake of this, there's been memes chastising Christians for their hypocrisy. Since the Bible- both Old and New Testament- are absolutely clear on how refugees and immigrants are to be treated, it's right to point out to any Christian who would deny refuge to those fleeing terror that they are, in fact a Class a hypocrite. But is that what the average American Christian would do?
Rather than view the opinions of people like Bobby Jindall and Greg Abbott as representing American Christian opinion, I thought it might be useful to see what the presiding bishops and other leaders of American Christian denominations say. Of course, they don't represent the view of every member of their denominations; on any given day, people sitting next to each other in the pews will disagree on any number of topics. But as elected representatives and leaders of their faith they provide a much better lense than elected government leaders.
The National Association of Evangelicals
"Anderson points to a famous story in the Bible, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, who helped a traveler who'd been beaten and robbed after others passed him by.
"[He] came and took a risk, and helped, and invested his own money. People often know the story of the good Samaritan, but they forget how Jesus ended it. And his last words were, 'Go and do likewise.' So he's calling on Christians, his followers, to be good Samaritans," Anderson said.
Anderson said he hopes evangelical churches will continue to step forward and offer to house Syrian refugees. He pointed out that some are Christians fleeing persecution, but he said no one should be subject to a religious requirement to receive help.
"If a child is suffering, if a child, a family, has been forced out of their home, are we really going to put them through a religious test in order to protect their lives? I hope not," Anderson said." (Story here.
The United Methodist Church "“Syrian refugees are fleeing violence perpetrated by ISIS ─ violence that has destroyed their country,” McCullough said. “To blame vulnerable people for the acts of their perpetrators is unjust and inhumane. We must react not with hate toward one another, but instead with unity and resolve to see that these horrendous crimes are not repeated.”
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America : "Yet, we Christians and all others of good will cannot let fear rule the day. Fear paralyzes, divides people, fosters distrust and clouds judgments. We also stand shoulder to shoulder with people of faith who are firmly opposed to vengeful reprisals and prejudice. In particular, we are concerned for and committed to standing with our Muslim neighbors who are facing threats and acts of discrimination and hate by those who conflate Islam with terrorism.”
The First Presidency thanks the members for their generous contributions that have allowed the Church to help previously and, to allow the Church to continue their donations, encourages members to continue to donate when possible.
The Catholic Church
"I am disturbed, however, by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization."
Presbyterian Church USA
: "Choose welcome, not fear." These are the words Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the Office of the General Assembly PC(USA) implores in his statement related to the terror attacks that occurred over the weekend of Nov. 13, 2015 and support for Syrian refugees.
United Church of Christ : " It is tragic that our country continues to witness the scapegoating and systematic collective punishment that it has known in the past. During World War II, those of Japanese heritage were interned. In former eras it was Catholics, Jews, and repeatedly Asians who were refused entry or inclusion into our immigrant nation. Today we watch still as a new manifestation of Jim Crow leads to the mass incarceration of great numbers of African-Americans. We have experienced how fear and suspicion lead to institutionalized discrimination and systematic dehumanization of whole communities."
The Episcopal Church "The children of Abraham have ever been reminded to care for the widow and orphan and the sojourner in their midst, who were the refugees and homeless of the time. Jesus charged his followers to care for the least of these and proclaim the near presence of the Reign of God – in other words, feed the hungry, water the thirsty, house the homeless, heal the sick, and liberate the captives. We cannot ignore the massive human suffering in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, nor in Asia and the Americas. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and our lives are bound up with theirs. The churchwide ministry of Episcopalians has included refugee resettlement since the refugee crisis of World War II. It continues today through the leadership of Episcopal Migration Ministries, and I urge your involvement, action, and support. Read about their work below, and share these opportunities with friends and co-workers. You will discover anew the power of good news in the face of the world’s tragedies. "
American Friends "We encourage governments to support the UN call for humanitarian relief funding for displaced Syrians. All international parties should act before the refugee flows further destabilize the region."
Southern Baptist Convention
: "The resolution concluded, "We affirm that while Southern Baptists, like other Americans, might disagree on how to achieve just and humane public policy objectives related to immigration, we agree that, when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to His church, the message, in every language and to every person, is 'Whosoever will may come.'""
It seems to me that the leadership of American Christianity and the people they lead, overwhelmingly proclaim welcome to Syrian refugees.