In case you didn’t know, there is a refugee crisis in Syria. 4.3 million displaced people from the war have been relocated to camps largely in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Of those 4.3 million, the US has taken in approximately 2,500. Our annual refugee acceptance is close to 70,000 world wide. This year the plan was to increase that amount by 15,000 and dedicate 10,000 of that number to the Syrian crisis. It’s not an enormous amount in light of the 4.3 million but it’s something.
As I read an article today on how we vet our accepted refugees I tried to put myself in the place of the person applying for status. It’s like having a rectal exam via your tonsils, or at least it appears that way. I don’t really want any government to know that much about me (though I imagine they already do). But if I needed a place to escape to, if my life were in danger, if I’d been tortured or feared death due to my religion, politics, or race, I suppose I’d surrender my privacy and my personal information in order to have a safe place to sleep at night, especially if I had children and grandchildren to consider. Camping in a foreign country until my homeland is available sounds tenuous at best. Would I even want to go back? To rely on the kindness of a foreign country seems insecure but preferable to tenting it with millions of other homeless.
Social media has been abuzz with the pros and cons of accepting these refugees. The misinformation, information, opinions, apalling incivility and downright shaming is nauseating. I’m going to lambast the very platform I use, but it’s horriffic how much can be discussed without filter on social media. I’ve heard from social justice Christians, Republican candidates, strident conservative friends, and people who want to make me hide in fear of their vehement embrasure of whichever position they hold. It’s not a subject I’d dare bring up in public. Everyone has a write bite to support their position and God help you if you don’t agree.
Let’s talk for a minute about the social justice Christians. I like them, for the most part. I applaud their passion for the underserved, their compassion for the broken, their desire to reflect Jesus’ heart in all that they do. They adopt foreign children, donate to causes, raise awareness with their blogs and books and have done much to prick the hearts of the complacent American church. God has done an incredible work in their lives, opening their eyes to their own inadequacies and given them a new idea of what it means to share Jesus with a broken world. Yea for them! One of the things that I get perplexed about though, is that they tend to lean on government to do the job of the Church. In their minds it seems they want Government to solve the problems of poverty, illness, discrimination, education and any other societal ill they deem worthy. The late Jerry Falwell said it on Bill Maher’s show, many years ago, “If the Church was doing it’s job, government wouldn’t need to”. Works for me. (He got a standing ovation).
I read a post by one of my favorite authors this week, it shamed the governers of our country for refusing Syrian refugees. This person holds tremendous influence among believers of all denominations and her post was liked, supported and attacked by thousands. Again, it was a call to the government to adhere to humanitarian principles that our country has always held, but then it extended a reprimand (by way of a 2nd party blogger) that quoted Scripture. I was stunned. When a segment of this same social justice camp supported the LBGT agenda in the fight for same sex marriage, Scripture as God wrote it was nowhere to be found! Now they want to use it to shame the same government? Awfully convienent.
Let’s talk about the conservatives, political and Christian, who are in support of either pausing or entirely eliminating the Syrian refugee resettlement. I caught the new Speaker’s position (who I deeply admire and respect) on TV the other night and I was okay with it. He sounded reasonable, measured, not as if he wanted to eliminate these refugees from ever coming here, but was putting the safety of the people in our country first. As a public servant, that’s his job. Then I read the paper today and learned that the vetting process already involves all the departments of state that the Republican bill is proposing. I don’t understand all the details and I’m not a political guru but it seemed redundant to try and pass a bill that will add to what is already a laborious and exhaustive vetting process. If you’re relying on sound bites from candidates, blurbs from your favorite news platforms and incomplete information, reread the process. It seems sufficient as is.
To me, it seems that fear is ruling our opinions. On the social justice side it’s fear of not being, doing and having the kind of compassion Jesus commands. Not living up to his example and teaching. On the other side it’s fear of allowing some ISIS militant accidentally into the country to maim, rape, torture and kill innocent people. Both fears are valid, neither are correct. As Christians, fear isn’t part of our vocabulary. How are these refugees ever going to know that Jesus is their hope if we don’t let them in?! Do we really think Europe or the Middle East will tell them the truth? I don’t.
For now, I’m on the side of admitting them. I’m not necessarily going to vote that stand, there are other issues that rank higher in my voting criteria and this is not necessarily the hill I feel I’m destined to die on. I also recognize that many of my country men don’t share the hope that I possess and are justifiably afraid for what might happen if a renegade refugee is allowed here. I sympathize with them, it’s scary. As for the social justice folks, read a Bible with a less indignant attitude. Jesus also said to render unto Ceasar what was his and Paul told us to obey/respect the authorities over us. Respecting your leaders is part of demonstrating true Christianity, shaming them is not. If you’re that passionate about the refugees, take Jesus to them. And please, please, please, have a care for what you post on social media! The Church doesn’t need to add weapons to the world’s already overflowing arsenal aimed at us.
One thing is certain, Jesus is going to come back someday. He IS Lord and everyone will acknowledge it. Even those whose goal is our destruction will bow a knee to him, that’s the Truth.
In the meantime, I think I’ll have a Christmas free Starbucks drink and pray. It’s the most powerful weapon in my arsenal.