We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – U.S. Declaration of Independence
These words helped build our country. Today, we seem to have forgotten them. The House of Representatives voted today to suspend the entry of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the United States. Our politicians are concerned that one or more refugees may actually be members of ISIS, and they justify those fears by pointing to the Paris attacks.
ISIS or the Islamic State is, frankly, frightening. This incredibly extreme Islamic sect appears to be bent on creating as much chaos and destruction as possible. They have captured other Islamic who were not as extreme as themselves, and they have waged war and genocide on all other religions. Their unpredictability and ruthlessness only adding to their fear inducing image.
Should we live in fear of ISIS? Most of the people who would close the United States to refugees tout themselves as Christians, but how can they be? They are living in fear and not trusting in God. As Christians, it is our moral obligation to care for these refugees. For reminders of this, we need only to turn to our Bibles and our history books.
The Hebrew people themselves were once battered refugees. The Old Testament details how the Jewish people alternated between wandering deserts,
battling foes, and enslavement for hundreds of years. Jesus himself was a refugee as a child when he was forced to flee Herod.
Inscription on Statue of Liberty
America was built upon the backs of thousands of refugees. Do we not take pride in the fact that the pilgrims were amongst the first European settlers of North America? The pilgrims were religious and political refugees! Not to mention the many other political and religious refugees who have taken shelter upon our shores and helped build our country into what it is today. We cannot close our doors against the threat that an extremist may infiltrate our homeland when so many people living in fear and awful conditions would be kept out as a result.
Please, put yourselves in the place of these Syrian refugees. They are doing all that they can to save themselves from an extremist regime. They may fear that their daughters will be raped and taken as “brides.” They may fear that their sons will be forced to fight for ISIS. They likely have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their own sense of security. Coming to places like the United States, U.K., or Germany may seem like their last option — their last chance at Life and Liberty. How can we slam the door on so many in order to protect ourselves from a few? How can we lose all faith in God to protect us as we follow his commandments to help those who are less fortunate?
Please check out this website created by Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York: https://medium.com/@humansofnewyork/humans-of-new-york-refugee-stories-243336f4adeb#.3csqda2qf. Brandon spent 10 days this year traveling to Greece, Hungary, Croatia, and Austria to learn the stories of refugees traveling across Europe. The stories are accompanied by pictures of these people, and I truly believe that we need this reminder that these refugees are people with names and faces. They have faced unimaginable hardship and persecution due only to where they live and their unwillingness to join an extremist movement.
To conclude: do not turn your back on the refugee in order to protect yourself from the extreme. Christians, trust in your God. Fellow members of the human race, don’t turn your back on those in need.
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. (Leviticus 19:9-10)
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:25-36)
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)