On Terrorism & Refugees

In response to the terrorist attacks in Paris many are calling for the United States to halt its plan to accept Syrian refugees within our borders. The concern is that scattered among the refugees will be radicalized terrorists who will carry out similar style attacks here on our soil. They will come under the guise of needing a safe place and will instead rob us of any sense of peace we may have.

This is a legitimate concern. I get that. I wrestle with it.

I don’t want to have to fear for my children’s lives anytime we go out in public. I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder anytime there is a loud noise. I don’t want my kids to live in a world that robs them of their blissful innocence.

And yet, I am opposed to any rejection of Syrian refugees. “Bring them in,” I say.

The things I want for my children are the very same things the Syrian people want for theirs. And the things I don’t want for my children are the very things that they have been living with for far too long. Their fears and worries are much more tangible than mine. They lack food and water, healthcare, education, shelter, and any semblance of stability in their life. They are more likely to be enslaved, abused, and suffer violence in the midst of their displacement. Did I mention that they are on the run from the very people we condemn in these brutal attacks?

In the past days many have been calling for the U.S. to turn them away. In doing so we are leaving them without homes, without opportunity, and without much hope. All because we are afraid.

This is a problem for me. My need to feel secure is not more important than their needs of dignity and basic care and welfare. My desire to enjoy a movie without threat of violence is not more important that a person’s need to be educated and warm and well fed.

But what about our safety? What about us; our people?

We are all too aware of the fact that movie theaters and schools and shopping malls are not bastions of safety any longer. We have seen people from all different belief systems and all shades of color use violence to terrorize innocent people. Terrorism is not something only “they” are capable of.

As a Christian I no longer believe in the categories “us and them.” I believe Jesus came, in part, to erase the barriers we have established between people. Jesus came for all of us.

Some of our presidential candidates have suggested we accept only Christian refugees. I am not sure how one proves their faith to a government official, but I am sure that there is nothing Christian about closing a door on people in need simply because they believe differently than us. It may be the smart thing to do. It may be the safe thing to do. But it is certainly not the Christlike thing to do.

This is where my struggle lies. I want security and prosperity. I want to pursue life, liberty, and happiness without all this extra stuff to worry about. But I am a Christian before I am a citizen. My calling as a Christian is to pursue Jesus, not the American Dream.

When these things are opposed it is too easy for me to want to grab for my flag rather than my cross.

Are there evil people out there who want to bring harm to us? Yes, absolutely. Are we willing to let that stop us from reaching out to our global neighbors to help them in a time of crisis? I hope not.

That’s not who we are as a country. And it is certainly not who we are if we follow Jesus Christ.

I believe the best way to defeat bad guys is to be good guys. The best way to destroy radicalism is to show love. The best way to conquer fear is to be courageous.

Let’s declare war on the ideology that anyone who doesn’t think like us is the enemy. Let’s be a people who have open arms of hospitality. Even when it is easier, even when it is safer to hide behind our locked doors.

Let’s not bow to terror but defy it.

We will not be shaken and we will not cower in fear. We are stronger than those who would victimize others for their gain. We will stand together, as we always have, to receive people who need a place to rest, a place to call home. It is who we are at our core.

“Give me your tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./ Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,/ I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

#WeWelcomeRefugeesrefugees-are-human-beings-oki.jpg

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23 thoughts on “On Terrorism & Refugees

  1. OK Chris, I believe you! So how many Syrian refugees are you going to sign up to house in your home with your family so they and their kids,if they bring any, can have the same things you all have?
    This is what arms open wide with hospitality do. What will you DO in addition to writing?

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    • Thanks for checking Anne. I have actually signed up the church I pastor to be a community resource for any refugees that are relocated in the area. That includes housing, job placement, English classes, etc. I’ve shared this with our people and they are on board. This is how we put our faith into action. We are willing and waiting.

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      • As many as fit? If the agency calls me tomorrow and says they have a refugee family in need of shelter, my home is available.
        If your implication is that one can only hold my position if they have refugees in their home, that is unfortunate. Not many homes will even have the option due to the limited number of refugees allowed to enter.
        But as for me, yes, my home. With my kids. And my wife. Is available.

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      • You assume that the things Syrian refugees want for their children are the same things you want for yours. In reality they want Sharia law. I doubt you want your children living under sharia law. Not to say they don’t want food, water, or shelter, but they also very likely want to subjugate your children to sharia law and to Islam. Now you might be thinking that I am assuming they want Sharia law. You would be right I can’t say for sure that all of them do. I can guess that an awful lot of them do based on signs held up not by “terrorists” but by everyday Muslims arguing for Sharia law both here and abroad. I can guess it based on their religion of choice which holds up sharia as the end all be all for law. At the very least I think its a question that should be asked of any guests you might want to have. Do they believe Sharia law should be the law in America? If they say yes then you should really ask yourself if you and they want the same things for your children respectively.

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      • First of all, they are not all Muslim, so they do not all want Sharia law. Second, I’ve known plenty of American Muslims who didn’t want Sharia law. Third, they do want the same things as I do for their kids, even if they want Sharia law. Maybe we go about it differently, but I assure you safety, food, water, and the chance to thrive are desired by Syrian people.

        I don’t fear them. Or Sharia law.

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  2. No, that was not my implication.
    I would think many may hold the view that refugees should be granted entrance, but few would give them entrance to their own home.

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  3. By law they shouldn’t be allowed to enter until they go through a vetting process and an application process. But hey i guess we can just pick and choose which laws to follow now right. I think i’m going to go rob a bank tomorrow.

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      • DHS has said no background checks have been done. According to the law part of the application process for refugee status is to go through a rigorous background check. Which again these so called refugees have not done. So yes they are in fact breaking the law. And the Chief enforcer of the law President Obama is in fact breaking the law too.
        Also I recall the Bible saying pray for your enemies. Where does it say invite them into your home? I mean it also says love your enemies but I personally don’t think its loving to allow them in so that the first thing they do in America is break refugee law. The same as I don’t think its loving when a parent allows their child to get away with shoplifting. That is false love. It brings to mind an attitude of not caring what people do as opposed to loving that person. Loving them so much you care very much what they do and how they present themselves.
        You might be thinking well these refugees are not our enemies. I refer you back to what I said on Sharia law earlier and furthermore I ask you who our great enemy is and who it is you think followers of Islam really serve. I think there are only two powers we are able to serve either God or “the prince of the air” Islam clearly does not serve our God thus it only leaves one power that they are serving.

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      • I dont have time today to go back and forth with you. If the agencies responsible for background checks fail to do so, that does not make the refugees law breakers. How do they control that?
        And I certainly do not think the refugees are our enemies. Even the Muslim ones. I see them as people who desperately need help. As people who God loves and desires to be reconciled with. And maybe, just maybe this is an opportunity for us to show them the truth of Christ by modeling the love and selflessness he demonstrated for us.
        I would encourage you to get to know some Muslim people. Maybe your perspective will change.

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      • You’re right the agencies are the ones breaking the law. I for one do not believe the Bible calls for us to be enablers for lawbreaking which is what this amounts to. If you don’t see them as our enemies then you haven’t been paying attention. Because anyone who believes Sharia law should be the law of the land sees us as the enemy.

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  4. Also what is your response to 2nd John 1:10-11. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. The Apostle John was so concerned with false teaching namely the teaching that Jesus is not the anointed Son of God that he said do not invite those who teach differently to enter into your home. Muslims of course teach that Jesus is not the Son of God.

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    • I think a basic understanding of Scripture would show you these are two very different situations. You can look for all the support you want but the Bible from beginning to end places an emphasis on caring for foreigners and the less fortunate, even at cost to ourselves.

      You can justify your position with “I dont want to enable law breaking” but ultimately that is just an excuse. I’m trying to be cordial here. If you dont want refugees here, you can hold that position, but please dont try and dress it up as though it is the Christian thing to do. Maybe it is the safe thing to do. Maybe it is the sane thing to do. But certainly it is not the Christlike thing to do.

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      • You do realize you just implied that being sane and being Christlike aren’t the same thing….My Christ is a Christ of Reason. I do not know who yours is. Yes the Bible does place emphasis on caring for foreigners and the less fortunate even at cost to ourselves. But since it also places emphasis on the verse above when you take the two together as we must do with scripture. You know take the whole thing together. It is clear that Jesus did not mean for us to put ourselves in a situation where we enable false teaching. Where we in fact support false teaching. Which is precisely what you’re talking about doing. Refugee status means they get state and government funding to live here. Since most of them are Muslim it means you are supporting the funding for Muslims to come here and promote their false teaching. Their teaching of what John in that same epistle verse 7 calls the antichrist. So your position also now seems to be well elsewhere it says care for the foreigners and less fortunate. So either John was arguing with the other apostles and perhaps Jesus himself or….. he saw a way to both care for them and not enable them. All I am really saying is we should place them in camps until we can determine who they are especially considering ISIS has straight up said they have sent attackers in with the refugees. To hide amongst them. God and Jesus never ask you to just throw your brain away and not use the intelligence he gave you to make good decisions.

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      • Love your enemy. Do good to those who would hurt you. Take up your cross. Forgive 70 x 7. Resurrection. These are not things the world finds sane. But they are the way of the Kingdom.

        And the sheltering of people on the run is a much different situation that hosting someone who is going to tear apart your church. I’m not inviting them to preach, I’m inviting them to a warm bed, a full belly, a chance for tomorrow. All in the name of Jesus.

        We will not be able to convince each other of switching our opinions at this point. Thanks for reading and interacting. Grace and peace.

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      • Okay you aren’t inviting them to preach. Are you going to allow them to practice their religion in your home? When you sit down to eat will you pray to Allah to make them more comfortable? If one of them does indeed turn out to be a terrorist will you be the one to stop them from harming another. Will you feel bad if you are unable to stop them and they harm innocents? Even harming the unbelievers so that they can never be saved? Will you pay restitution to their families? Will you allow yourself to be brought up on charges for harboring a fugitive? You might very well be doing so only you wouldn’t know it because you don’t know who they are. No one has told you who they are because no background check has been done on them. Again all I want is for the law to be followed? Why is that so wrong? IF they pass the background checks im happy to allow them in. Until then I am NOT WILLING TO TRADE INNOCENT LIVES JUST SO THESE REFUGEES CAN SKIP BACKGROUND CHECKS. I do not believe that is what God would want. Also will you boldly teach the truth to them as Jesus and the Apostles did. They never took someone in and then told them to go on their merry way keep sinning keep worshiping false idols and false gods. They boldly proclaimed the truth. The few times Jesus ever displayed anger it was to rebuke false teachers. You don’t know if any of these people are false teachers or not because no one has asked. You might be allowing several Imams in. While you may not be inviting them to preach you also haven’t said you would do anything to stop them from doing so…nor could you if you wanted to really I mean once they are in they can do whatever they like. I am sorry your handling of this so far is just naive. I can’t see Jesus ever being this naive. I don’t recall one instance of anyone ever pulling one over on Jesus.

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      • I’m not sure you know who the refugees are and why they are coming. “I am NOT WILLING TO TRADE INNOCENT LIVES JUST SO THESE REFUGEES CAN SKIP BACKGROUND CHECKS.” The refugees are innocent lives.

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      • How do you know they are innocent? You have no way of knowing how much blood they have spilled. Oh and there is that whole thing where the Bible actually says none of us are innocent until saved doesn’t it? By law, “A refugee does not include anyone who ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/refugees Now the only way to know if they did those things or not is with background checks. I realize even background checks aren’t perfect so some may still slip through but at least we can say we tried our best and followed the law at that point. And again one could argue that any Muslim that supported Muslim states who committed these persecutions did in fact assist in those persecutions and thus are not to be awarded refugee status by law.

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  5. Oh also forgiving people, doing good to those who hurt you, the resurrection. These things are in fact very sane. It is less sane to ignore God and to ignore the truth of the resurrection. You need to recheck what being sane and what being insane actually means. Show me one instance of Jesus or the apostles ever saying those things are insane or those things go against reason and logic? They said they were wondrous but they never said they went against reason and logic. To them it was very logical that if God exists that He could perform these acts. Also worth noting when talking about forgiveness and doing good to those who hurt you. He was NOT SETTING UP a political system for the Jews. He was setting up a system for personal responsibility. He did not say forgive someone while ignoring the law. He said if someone comes and slaps you on the cheek offer him the other. He did not say if 4,000 people who seek to do you harm enter your country to just allow them in and take them in. Isis said they have infiltrated 4000 of their people among the refugees. How many of our people have to die before YOU take the threat seriously. Just curious where is your line? If one of these refugees kills your children will you still invite more into your home? Or is it that you are only willing to put others lives at risk but not your own so as long as they don’t kill your children your fine they can kill others just fine?

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