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Christians in the U.S. have been quite distressed about the persecution of other Christians in the Middle East and other overseas territories – something that has been going on for over 10 years. With each Christian family attacked in Iraq, priests kidnapped in Syria, or Coptic churches attacked in Egypt, the uproar and demand for action rose.
Donald J. Trump has often included these topics during the campaign, speaking about Christians not being allowed to enter the U.S. and beheaded by Islamic State terrorists: “Being a Christian means no chance for you,” he said in Ohio during the campaign.
President Trump signed Aleteia on Friday, giving an advantage to refugees who have been persecuted for their religion as a minor religious group in their country. With this, he has followed through on his campaign promise to help these Christians.
The president said his administration is first going to help Christians as they have suffered more than others, so they are giving priority to them. He stated this on Friday, in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.
However, instead of breaking out in cheers, many Christian leaders strongly condemned this order as misguided, discriminatory, and inhumane. Disapproval has also come from some of the mainline Protestant and evangelical, Roman Catholic leaders – the most active churches to help persecuted Christians.
These religious leaders said that by giving preference to Christians over Muslims, President Trump’s order pits one faith against another. By forbidding any refugees to enter the U.S. for almost 4 months, it would prevent so many families from reuniting and people from suffering longer in camps.
The religious leaders are also saying that the U.S. shuts the door to those most in need by reducing the total number of refugees admitted in 2017 – from 110,000 to 50,000, and by putting an indefinite freeze on Syrian refugees.
The chairman of the committee on migration for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, stated they believe in helping everyone, no matter their religious beliefs. The director of Church World Service’s policy and advocacy for the immigration and refugee program, Jen Smyers, said this Friday was a shameful day in the history of the U.S.
We’ll see if this executive order will be more supported by the pews. Exit polls have shown that Donald Trump has earned 4 out of 5 white evangelical Christians and most white Catholics by successfully mining the concern of many voters regarding national security and fear of Muslims.
Churchgoers were divided concerning this matter in interviews on Sunday. They were also dealing with the question if giving priority to Christians is actually supported by Christian teachings. Both sides said “love thy neighbor” means a commandment to embrace all people as well as defending one’s actual neighbors from harm.
Mark Tanner is a worshiper at the evangelical church in Atlanta Buckhead Church. He said the besieged Iraqi city of Mosul has one of the world’s oldest Christian populations, and that the remnant there have stayed as Christian witnesses. He continued to say that we have to be real about who we let enter this country.
The native Nigerian Nmachi Abengowe cited Muslim-on-Christian violence in Africa at the Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, defending President Trump’s preference for Christian refugees. He stated that Muslims don’t have peace and that they believe in jihad. On the other hand, there’s a piece coming from Jesus Christ, he said.
But, Makeisha Robey who’s a worshiper at the Atlanta church doesn’t share this opinion. She said God’s love is for everyone, so being a Christian means having an obligation to bring his love to everyone.
Noreen and John Yarwood who were at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn shared their fear that this Christian preference policy can actually become a preference for some Christian denominations over others.
John Yarwood asked what this administration means by Christian. As he explains, refugees deserve help and mercy not because of their religion but because of poverty and desperation. He says this simply doesn’t follow Christian teachings.
One of the few Christian leaders who defended this executive order was Rev. Franklin Graham, the president of Samaritan’s Purse and the son of the evangelist Billy Graham. Franklin Graham has long condemned Islam as “evil.” As he stated months before president Trump suggested the same, the solution to domestic terrorism is a ban on Muslims coming into the U.S.
On Saturday, Mr. Graham stated that we have to ensure the philosophies concerned with liberty and freedom of refugees are in line with ours. As he explains, the notions of people who follow the set of beliefs at the core of Islam called Shariah law, are ultimately incompatible with the United States Constitution.
The president of Christian Freedom International, Jim Jacobson supported Trump’s order, saying that it gives hope to persecuted Christians that the turn for their cases has finally come.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump claimed the Obama administration had given preference to Muslims, denying refugee status to Christians. He condemned this as bad and unfair at a rally in St. Clairsville, Ohio. The claim followed the conspiracy theory that Mr. Obama was secretly a Muslim, wanting to raise the Muslim population of the U.S. by ignoring the suffering of Christians.
However, this is untrue according to the Pew Research Center. Reportedly, the number of Christian refugees admitted in 2016 (37,521) is almost the same as that of Muslims (38,901). As Eddy Burg, the population of Syria is only 5% Christian, with the rest being Muslim, so only about 1% of the refugees from this country that resettled in the U.S. in 2016 were Christian.
During interviews, the leaders of some refugee resettlement organizations said most refugees had to go through 18 months 3 year-vetting process to enter the U.S. Recently, more Syrian Christians got into the pipeline.
The president of the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals ‘World Relief’, Rev. Scott Arbeiter, reported there’s no proof that could support the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration was discriminating the Christians.
With the help of a network of 1,200 evangelical churches, his organization managed to resettle thousands of Muslim refugees. As Scott Arbeiter explains, the organization doesn’t support any measure that discriminates against the world’s most vulnerable people based on religion, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, or country of origin. On the contrary, they serve these people regardless of these or any other factors.
They started a petition opposing President Trump’s executive order, and so far they have collected 12,000 signatures from evangelical Christians. He asks their network of 1,200 churches to use their voices to challenge the facts and change the narrative which raises the fear so high that people will eventually accept Trump’s order.
Via Eddy Burg